International Expert on Adaptive Optics to Give Public Lecture

by George Zamora

SOCORRO, N.M., March 5, 2007 – An internationally renowned expert on adaptive optics will give a public lecture later this month on the New Mexico Tech campus, which explores the ways that adaptive optics has revolutionized image-capturing techniques and technologies in astronomy and other scientific disciplines.

Robert Q. Fugate, senior research advisor at New Mexico Tech, will speak on “Researching the Sky: The Revolution in Ground-Based Astronomy” at 2 p.m. on Friday, March 23, at the Joseph R. Skeen Library’s Don & Rosie Tripp Conference Room.

The talk, which is free and open to the public, is co-sponsored by Skeen Library and the Rio Grande Chapter of the Special Libraries Association.

After a long career as a principal researcher and research director in the cutting-edge fields of adaptive optics and directed energy, Fugate joined the New Mexico Tech research community last year, when he retired from more than 35 years of federal civilian service with the U.S. Air Force.

As a highly esteemed member of the Air Force’s scientific and professional cadre of senior executives, Fugate most recently served as technical director and senior scientist for atmospheric compensation at the Starfire Optical Range, a specialized research division of the Directed Energy Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque.

At the Starfire Optical Range, he was in charge of a research program on atmospheric propagation physics, which includes atmospheric compensation using laser-guided star adaptive optics and the acquisition, tracking, and pointing of lasers toward Earth-orbiting satellites.

The ongoing research program Fugate once headed continues to focus on the development and testing of sensors, instrumentation, and mount control of large-aperture, ground-based telescopes, such as the one currently in operation at New Mexico Tech’s Magdalena Ridge Observatory.

Fugate is the recipient of numerous national awards, including the Air Force’s Outstanding Civilian Career Service Award and the first-ever Distinguished Presidential Rank Award for Senior Professionals in the Air Force, putting him at the time in the top one percent of senior civilian executives in federal government. He also is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and has written and published more than 100 invited articles, book chapters, and research papers.

In addition, Fugate has chaired and served on organizing committees for numerous research conferences on adaptive optics and directed energy topics.