Hugo Thienpont (20-08-1961) is a full professor at the Faculty of Engineering of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). He chairs the Applied Physics and Photonics Department and is director of its photonics research group, which he built over the years and which today counts about 50 scientists, engineers, and administrative and technical staff. He graduated as an Electrotechnical Engineer with majors in Applied Physics in 1984 and received his PhD in Applied Sciences in 1990, both at the VUB. From 1990 onward he continues his career as a post-doc researcher at the VUB with the goal to set up a research team with critical mass, which would contribute to the fascinating world of photonics. Over the years Hugo and his team have made research efforts in a large variety of fundamental and applied research topics, most of them situated in the domain of micro-photonics and micro-optics. In particular he is internationally recognized for his breakthroughs in the following research topics: optical bistability in nonlinear Fabry-Perot resonators, nonlinear optical response of organic materials, parallel optics in digital computing demonstrators, optical interconnects at the chip level, high-aspect ratio plastic micro-optics based on deep proton lithography, polarization switching in vertical cavity surface emitting microlasers, and micro-structured optical fibers for optical sensing.
With the results of this work he authored more than 180 SCI-stated journal papers and around 400 publications in international conference proceedings. He edited more than 15 conference proceedings and authored 7 chapters in books. He was invited or key-note speaker at more than 50 international conferences and is (co)-inventor of 13 patents. His research work was internationally recognized with several awards. In 1999 he received the International Commission for Optics Prize ICO’99 and the Ernst Abbe medal from Carl Zeiss for “his noteworthy contributions in the field of photonics and parallel micro-optics”. In 2003 he was awarded the title of “IEEE LEOS distinguished lecturer” for serving as international lecturer from
2001-2003 on the theme “Optical Interconnects to Silicon Chips”. In 2005 he received the SPIE President’s Award 2005 for meritorious services to the Society and for his leadership in photonics in Europe. In 2006 he was nominated SPIE Fellow for his research contributions to the field of micro-optics and micro-photonics. In 2007 he received the award “Prof. R. Van Geen” for his scientific achievements during his research career at VUB and is nominated as EOS Fellow. In October 2007 he received the International Micro-Optics Award MOC ’07 from the Japanese Optical Society. In 2008 he obtained the prestigious status of Methusalem top-scientist from the Flemish government for his research track record in photonics.
Hugo Thienpont is also recognized for his contributions to Photonics in Education. In 1993 he initiated and introduced the pioneering Photonics Curriculum for Engineers at the VUB. In 2004 he introduces, together with his colleagues from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the Universiteit Gent, the interuniversity engineering curriculum “Master in Photonics” which received the EC Erasmus Mundus quality label. Hugo Thienpont also built up a track record as initiator, promoter or coordinator of many strategic research and networking projects, which are financially supported by regional, national and international bodies such as the Fund for Scientific Research Vlaanderen (FWO), the Institute for the Promotion of Innovation by Science and Technology in Flanders (IWT), the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office, and by the European Commission. The largest network he initated is the 6,4 Meuro EC funded Network of Excellence on Micro-optics “NEMO”. In this network Hugo Thienpont coordinates the networking, integration and research efforts of 30 top-research groups from 13 European countries. Recently he became vice-coordinator of the European Network of Excellence on Biophotonics Photonics for Life.
Besides academic-oriented research projects Hugo Thienpont has successfully managed more than 15 large-scale micro-photonics-related industrial projects with companies such as Barco, Agfa-Gevaert, Tyco, Punch Graphix, and Umicore. In 2005 his research team receives the nomination ‘VUB Focal Point for Industrial Validation’. Hugo Thienpont is also appreciated by his peers for his service to the photonics community. Indeed Hugo has been member of many technical and scientific program committees of photonics-related conferences organized by international societies like SPIE, IEEE, OSA, EOS and ICO. One of his major achievements is the conception and initiation of SPIE’s flagship symposium in Europe “Photonics Europe”. Hugo has been general chair of this pan-European conference, which is held in Strasbourg since 2004 and draws more than 2000 attendees. He has served as associate editor of 'Optical Engineering' and 'Opto-Electronics Review' and was guest editor of several special issues on "Optics in Computing" and on "Optical Interconnects" for Applied Optics and the IEEE Journal of Sel. Top. on Quant. Electr. Since 2008 he is member of the editorial board of the on-line journal SPIE Reviews. He currently serves on the board of directors of SPIE and is a member of the Board of Stakeholders of the Technology Platform Photonics21, a high-level advisory board for optics and photonics in EC FP 7.