Tara Fortier: The 2023 SPIE Harold E. Edgerton Award in High-Speed Optics
An international leader in the development and applications of laser frequency combs from ultrafast mode-locked lasers, Tara Fortier is currently the project leader of the Time and Frequency Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where her focus is on the precision frequency calibration of optical atomic clocks. A pioneer in the development of frequency combs from erbium-doped fiber lasers, titanium sapphire lasers, and ytterbium-doped lasers, Fortier’s work with ultrafast laser systems and techniques has broadly impacted optical science, laser physics, atomic physics, and related technologies.
Fortier’s accomplishments have led to multiple recognitions including the prestigious Director’s Postdoctoral Fellowship at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 2004; the Young Scientist Award of the European Frequency and Time Forum in 2008; and a NIST Distinguished Associate Award in 2019. She has given numerous invited talks at SPIE events, and was featured in the 2022 SPIE Women in Optics planner. She is also highly engaged in the wider optics community: she’s active in efforts to develop the US workforce in quantum information science; participates on panels at diversity-related events; is an executive member of the NIST board on Women in STEM; and serves as a mentor for her students and postdocs.
“Beyond her impressive technical contributions, Tara is an outstanding contributor to the optics community,” notes Professor Henry C. Kapteyn of JILA and the Department of Physics at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “She has also worked extensively to advance activities focused on diversity and inclusion in the field, and at NIST and the University of Colorado. She has served as a strong mentor for numerous students and postdocs working in her lab. She is an excellent scientist with high technical and ethical standards and is truly a credit to the optics field.”