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Alumnus Eric Swanson Awarded NAE Russ Prize and Is Named IEEE Fellow

Eric Swanson

Eric Swanson

UMass alumnus Eric Swanson is among a team of researchers that was awarded the $500,000 Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize from the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and has also been named by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers as an IEEE Fellow.

The citation for the 2017 Russ Prize reads: “For optical coherence tomography, leveraging creative engineering to invent imaging technology essential for preventing blindness and treating vascular and other diseases.” The prize, established in 1999, is named after Fritz Russ, an esteemed engineer and founder of Systems Research Laboratories, and his wife Dolores Russ, a long-time supporter and benefactor of the engineering industry. The Russ Prize recognizes an outstanding bioengineering achievement in widespread use that improves the human condition. The NEA notes that the achievement should help the public better understand and appreciate the contributions of engineers to our health, well-being, and quality of life. An auxiliary purpose of the Russ Prize is to encourage collaboration between the engineering and medical/biological professions to work closely together.

The IEEE Board of Directors confers the Grade of Fellow upon a person with an outstanding record of accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest. The IEEE Fellow is the highest grade of membership and is recognized by the technical community as a prestigious honor and an important career achievement. The IEEE is recognizing Swanson for “Contributions to Optical Coherence Tomography and Leadership in Optical Networking.” Optical coherence tomography has become a major medical imaging modality and has helped advance fundamental understanding of disease mechanisms and their treatments in multiple fields including blinding eye diseases, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, and has saved billions of dollars in healthcare expenditures. Advances in Optical Networking are critical to support the constantly growing bandwidth demands of an ever increasingly networked society and the benefits that connectivity brings to people around the world.

Eric Swanson is an active participant in a variety of entrepreneurial, industrial, academic, and volunteer activities. He chairs the board of directors for Acacia Communications and is a member of the boards of directors for NinePoint Medical and Curata. He serves on the governing board of the Danish National Quantum Innovation Center is an affiliate of the MIT Deshpande Center for Entrepreneurship and MIT Translational Fellows Program. Mr. Swanson is a co-founder or founding board member of five start-up companies: Advanced Ophthalmic Devices, Lightlab Imaging, Sycamore Networks (Nasdaq IPO 1999), Acacia Communication (Nasdaq IPO 2016), and Curata Incorporated. These companies have evolved over time and shipped well over $1B in products around the world. Mr. Swanson has co-authored 81 journal articles, 142 conference presentations, 40 US patents, and 7 book chapters. In 2002 he was elected a Fellow of OSA for pioneering contributions to the fields of intersatellite laser communication systems, fiber optic communication networks, and biomedical optical imaging. He is a co-recipient of the 2002 Rank Prize and the 2012 António Champalimaud Vision Award. Mr. Swanson holds a BS summa cum laude in electrical engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and an MS in electrical engineering from MIT. (January 2017)