The endowed faculty chair at CU Boulder will help students to study nanoscale systems related to optics and photonics across JILA research disciplines at the university. Courtesy CU Boulder

Baurs donation results in endowed chair at CU Boulder

BOULDER — A new $2.5 million endowed chair at JILA, a joint institute of the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, will open doors to early-to-mid-career researchers from historically underrepresented groups, as well as academics who have an established interest in teaching and mentoring.

Tom and Jeanne Baur donated $1.5 million to create the endowed chair to benefit photonics and optics research and programming. Their gift received matching contributions of $500,000 from the International Society for Optics and Photonics and CU Boulder contributed $500,000. The chair will be called the Baur-SPIE Endowed Chair in Optics and Photonics. 

The $2.5 million fund will enable JILA to expand its research and education capacity in optical physics and photonics. Optics and photonics research is responsible for the development and rapid advancement of lasers, which are now used in everyday life from computers to manufacturing to surgery.

“We are very excited about a partnership that will support our continued emphasis on diversity and inclusion in STEM fields,” Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano said in a written statement. “JILA’s contributions to optics and photonics research have led to advances in basic research and to practical applications for industry and technology. As a joint part of JILA, we’re proud to support this endowed chair, which prioritizes teaching and mentoring.”

Tom Baur, a first-generation college student at the University of Michigan, received a master’s in astro-geophysics in 1969 from CU Boulder. He then worked for 13 years as an observational astronomer at the High Altitude Observatory, a division of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder. Baur later founded Meadowlark Optics, which is located in Frederick.

The company has benefited from its partnerships with JILA and CU Boulder faculty and students: Both institutions have been a source of employees for Meadowlark Optics, and the company has had joint research programs with the university and with NIST.

In 2018, Baur was the recipient of the SPIE G.G. Stokes Award for a lifetime of leadership in polarization optical components and for revolutionizing the polarization field through commercialization of liquid crystal variable retarders. It is this technology that improves precision measurement tools that are used in a range of fields from studying solar physics to biology.

“Jeanne and I have been lifelong learners, and much of that learning has been outside the classroom,” Baur said. “We have a strong respect for the hard work of the optical research community at JILA that we are supporting. We hope that our contribution will inspire others to contribute to the advancement of optical research at JILA and elsewhere.”

 

BOULDER — A new $2.5 million endowed chair at JILA, a joint institute of the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, will open doors to early-to-mid-career researchers from historically underrepresented groups, as well as academics who have an established interest in teaching and mentoring.

Tom and Jeanne Baur donated $1.5 million to create the endowed chair to benefit photonics and optics research and programming. Their gift received matching contributions of $500,000 from the International Society for Optics and Photonics and CU Boulder contributed $500,000. The chair will be called the Baur-SPIE Endowed Chair in Optics and Photonics. 

The $2.5 million fund will enable JILA to expand its research and education capacity in optical physics and photonics. Optics and photonics research is responsible for the development and rapid advancement of lasers, which are now used in everyday life from computers to manufacturing to surgery.

“We are very excited about a partnership that will support our continued emphasis on diversity and inclusion in STEM fields,” Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano said in a written statement. “JILA’s contributions to optics and photonics research have led to advances in basic research and to practical applications for industry and technology. As a joint part of JILA, we’re proud to support this endowed chair, which prioritizes teaching and mentoring.”

Tom Baur, a first-generation college student at the University of Michigan, received a master’s in astro-geophysics in 1969 from CU Boulder. He then worked for 13 years as an observational astronomer at the…