MJ Soileau, vice president for UCF’s Office of Research and Commercialization, has been named to the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame.
Soileau, who oversees the office responsible for taking research from UCF labs into industry, is also an accomplished scientist, researcher and professor. It was his innovative research in the advancement of high-energy laser optics that earned him this recognition.
His pioneering work has been recognized multiple times by a variety of organizations, from the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, where he was elected a fellow in 2007, to the National Academy of Inventors, which named him a fellow in 2013. He is a fellow of The Optical Society (OSA) and he earned a gold medal from SPIE and OSA’s Esther Hoffman Beller award.
Soileau was the first director of UCF’s internationally recognized Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers (CREOL). In 1999, he was named vice president for Research and Commercialization. The office also provides contract and grant services for UCF faculty. Under Soileau’s leadership, research funding increased from $36.6 million in 1998 to an accumulated $1.2 billion since 2000.
Just as important, under Soileau’s leadership UCF has made its mark commercializing technology, stimulating the local economy, and helping to establish a strong concentration of companies in optics and lasers, simulation and training, computer science, alternative energy and biomedical sciences.
Even as he worked to help position UCF for success, Soileau continued to conduct his own work in the area of nonlinear optical properties of materials and lasers. He holds patents for optics devices that have contributed to the advancement of high-energy laser optics.
Soileau, a Louisiana sharecropper’s son who hoed cotton to pay for college, received his Ph.D. in quantum electronics from the University of Southern California and is a distinguished professor of optics, electrical and computer engineering and physics. He announced last year he would step down from his position in the Office of Research and Commercialization this year, but will continue to serve as a professor.
Seven inventors, including Nobel laureate Andrew Schally, are part of the 2016 inductees into the Florida Hall of Fame. The recipients will be honored at a gala Sept. 16 in Tampa.
“We are delighted to be announcing this class of exceptional inventors whose work has greatly impacted Florida and our nation,” said Randy Berridge, who serves on the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame advisory board and as chair of the selection committee.