William Streifer Scientific Achievement Award

The IEEE Photonics Society William Streifer Scientific Achievement Award is given to recognize an exceptional single scientific contribution which has had a significant impact in the field of lasers and electro-optics in the past 10 years. It may be given to an individual or to a group for a single contribution of significant work in the field. The Award is endowed by Xerox Corp and Spectra Diode Labs. The Award consists of an honorarium of $2,500 and a medal. The presentation is made at the IEEE Photonics Conference.

Please note that no candidate shall have previously received a major IEEE award for the same work.  Previous winners of a Photonics Society Career Award (Aron Kressel, Engineering Achievement, Quantum Electronics, William Streifer Scientific Achievement) are not eligible candidates for consideration of the same work. Candidates need not be members of the IEEE or the Photonics Society. 

2022 Honoree

John Ballato 082


John Ballato

For pioneering contributions to the science, engineering, and application of optoelectronic fibers.




John Ballato is a professor of materials science and engineering at Clemson University, where he also holds the J. E. Sirrine Endowed Chair in Optical Fiber. Born in New York City, he was raised in New Jersey and attended Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ USA) earning a BS degree (1993) and the PhD (1997) in ceramic science and engineering.

Ballato joined the faculty at Clemson University (Clemson, SC USA) in 1997, where his research has focused on understanding and applying light-matter interactions in novel optical materials, particularly in fiber form. He is widely considered a founder of the field of semiconductor core optical fiber, having pioneered their practical fabrication. Such optoelectronic fibers have rapidly progressed over the past 10 years from fundamental materials science and engineering studies to, now, wide ranging devices including fiber-based solar cells, super-continuum sources, frequency combs, and related fiber-based nonlinear components.

Under his leadership, the Center for Optical Materials Science and Engineering Technologies (COMSET) was formed at Clemson in 2000. Over the 14 years he directed COMSET, the center grew to 40 faculty members and subsequently attracted nearly $100 million in research support. Ballato subsequently served as Clemson’s Vice President for Research and as Vice President for Economic Development where, in this latter position, he was responsible for University-industry relations and business development as well as multiple innovation campuses representing, at that time, over $750M of public / private investments.

Ballato’s research has garnered over $65M in extramural support. He has published 500 technical papers and holds 35 U.S. and foreign patents. Among numerous other honors, he is the recipient of the George W. Morey Award, the Arthur L. Friedberg Ceramics Engineering Award, and the Schwartzwalder-PACE Award, all from the American Ceramic Society. Further, his collaborative work on image transport via transverse Anderson localization in glass optical fibers was selected as one of Physics World magazine’s Top Ten Breakthroughs for 2014. Ballato is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Physical Society (APS), the Optical Society of America (OSA), the International Society of Optical Engineering (SPIE), and the American Ceramic Society (ACerS). He is also an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Inventors and the World Academy of Ceramics, whose global membership is limited to 300 persons.

A serial entrepreneur, Ballato has co-founded 3 companies. Ballato also served as a Director of the AVX Corporation, a leading international manufacturer and supplier of advanced electronic components, which was publicly traded on the NYSE prior to its acquisition by Kyocera in 2020.

April 5th

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Nomination period: Feb 1 - April 5

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