The Optica (formerly OSA) Board of Directors recently elected 106 members from 24 countries to the Society’s 2022 Fellows Class. Illinois bioengineering Founder Professor Rohit Bhargava — who is also a professor at the Carle Illinois College of Medicine — was selected for his contributions to the fundamental physics and instrument engineering of mid-IR microscopy and its applications to medical imaging.
Fellows are Optica members who have served with distinction in the advancement of optics and photonics. Candidates are recommended by the Fellow Members Committee and then submitted for review and approval by the Awards Council and Board of Directors.
In addition to being one of the first faculty members at the department of bioengineering at The Grainger College of Engineering, Bhargava is also an Abel Bliss Faculty Scholar, with affiliate appointments at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology and the departments of chemical and biomolecular engineering, mechanical science and engineering, electrical and computer engineering, chemistry and Carle Illinois.
As a leading expert in cancer research, he founded and serves as the director of the Cancer Center at Illinois. The Cancer Center is a hub for university-wide efforts dedicated to advancing cancer research and scholarship.
Prior to his nomination, Bhargava received Optica’s Ellis R. Lippincott Award in 2021 which recognizes significant innovations in the field of vibrational spectroscopy. His research has enabled the development of a complete theory for IR microscopy and nanoscopy over the last decade, forming the theoretical foundation of IR imaging. He has also been able to translate fundamental scientific understanding to practical spectrometers by working with industry. This work has resulted in “high definition” (HD) imaging, now adopted by all IR microscopy manufacturers. Bhargava, additionally, has opened the field of using high-performance IR imaging for pathology, with studies that show how conventional pathology can be made all-digital and highly accurate.
“We are tremendously proud of Rohit’s contributions to optical imaging and infrared microscopy, which are changing the way in which biological tissues are analyzed. His work has pushed the boundaries of the field of chemical imaging by combining fundamental optical physics with machine learning to provide tissue specificity that previously required the use of stains,” said Mark A. Anastasio, bioengineering department head. “The applications of his research are highly impactful and we are honored to have him as a colleague,” he said.
“I believe that technology can make cancer care more humane. Our tools can help eliminate guesswork for physicians, eliminate waiting for patients, and accelerate the search for cures to enable precise and personally fulfilling care for everyone,” said Bhargava.
Widely recognized as a pioneer in chemical imaging, Bhargava has previously received the Gordon F. Kirkbright Bursary Award, FACSS Innovation Award, the Craver Award, the Agilent Thought Leader Award, and the Beckman Vision and Spirit Award. He is a Fellow of the Society for Applied Spectroscopy, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Editor’s note: The original version of this article can be found here.