M.J. Soileau, who served as the first director of UCF’s Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers (CREOL) before being named vice president in 1998, is the first recipient of the Distinguished Service Appreciation Medal issued by the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO), located in Barcelona, Spain.

Lluis Torner, director of ICFO, credited Soileau with supplying the help, advice and support needed to establish a center capable of conducting cutting edge research in optics and photonics at the highest international level.

“MJ’s generous advice over the years has had a tremendous impact on our success. As a new institute that from day one aimed at becoming world class, we have enormously benefited from MJ’s far-reaching vision and extended experience, specifically in matters related to technology transfer.”

The center, which opened in 2002, gives scientists and industries from around the world an opportunity to work together on research projects ranging from telecommunications and information technologies to biotechnology, sensing, quantum information, industrial photonics, nanophotonics and biophotonics.

ICFO is now a leading research institute, a European center of reference for researchers and industries, and a national flagship. ICFO hosts six European Research Council awardees and an active Corporate Liaison Program inspired by CREOL’s Industrial Affiliates Program.

Soileau has achieved similar benchmarks at UCF, which has been ranked in the top ten nationwide for the strength of its patents four times in the last four years.  In 2010 UCF  celebrated a decade of research under Soileau’s tenure which resulted in a cumulative $1.05 billion in research funding for the university.

The medal will be presented at the ICFO tenth anniversary celebration in Barcelona next spring.