A CREOL’s alumnus’ groundbreaking work in the field of quantitative phase imaging recently earned him the Dennis Gabor Award in Diffractive Optics from the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE).

SPIE cited multiple achievements by Gabriel Popescu, Ph.D., ’02, as the basis for the win, including Popescu’s advancements in the technology that study live cells. Popescu currently teaches at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as the William L. Everitt Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, where he directs the Quantitative Light Imaging Laboratory at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.

His imaging work advances critical cancer research, including breast cancer detection and label-free tissue scanners for colorectal cancer screening.

“To this day I am still using most of what I learned as a student at CREOL,” Popescu said in a 2021 interview with CREOL. “I work at a large institution with many brilliant scientists. These colleagues are collaborative, which is something that I was exposed to consistently while a student at UCF and came to value greatly in other scientists.”

Popescu’s ties to SPIE include founding the SPIE Quantitative Phase Imaging Conference within Photonics West, along with chairing the Unconventional Optical Imaging conference at Photonics Europe in recent year.

“… Dr. Popescu has made impressive progress at the forefront of quantitative phase imaging, advancing the technology to the point where it is possible for a biologist with no engineering background to use the instrument independently,” University of Tokyo Professor Keisuke Goda, Ph.D., said in a prepared statement.