SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION: New scholarship planned in honor of Boris Stoicheff

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One of the pioneering figures in the history of spectroscopy and non-linear optics, Boris Stoicheff, passed away last year. To honor his memory, the OSA Foundation (OSAF) and the Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) have launched a fundraising campaign to establish a graduate student scholarship in his name. The goal is to raise at least $40,000 USD to enable an annual stipend of $1,500 USD.

The scholarship will be awarded by OSAF and CAP on an alternate year basis. The scope and selection criteria will be developed by a committee comprised of members of both societies. 

Stoicheff was renowned for his pioneering contributions to high-resolution Raman, Brillouin and VUV spectroscopy, and later to non-linear optics. Together with colleagues at the National Research Council (NRC) in Ottawa, Canada, he built the first ruby laser in Canada. He was a Past President and Fellow Emeritus of the Optical Society (OSA), a Past President of CAP, and an emeritus university professor of physics at the University of Toronto, Canada. He died in April 2010 in Toronto after a battle with multiple myeloma. He was 85.

“Boris Stoicheff had a long and distinguished career, but of all his accomplishments, he was most proud of the more than 25 graduate students with whom he worked,” said G. Michael Morris, chair of the OSAF Board. “We feel that a scholarship tribute is a particularly appropriate form of recognition.”

 “Boris was not only one of the world’s premier optical physicists, he was a remarkable human being,” added Henry M. Van Driel, the 2010-11 CAP President. “I believe that he would be very proud that a scholarship in his name will encourage future generations of science innovators to specialize in spectroscopy and non-linear optics.”

Stoicheff was born in Macedonia, then part of Yugoslavia, and emigrated to Canada with his family as a young child. After earning a B.A.Sc in Engineering Physics (1947) and a Ph.D. in Molecular Physics (1950) from the University of Toronto, he received a Gilchrist fellowship that enabled him to remain in Toronto for a year to perform Raman scattering experiments at low pressures. Stoicheff then went to the NRC to continue his work on Raman scattering in a lab headed by Gerhard Herzberg, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1971. Stoicheff later wrote Herzberg’s biography, Gerhard Herzberg – An Illustrious Life in Science.

Stoicheff remained at the NRC from 1951-1964. He spent a sabbatical year in 1963 working with Charles Townes at MIT, and he then joined the University of Toronto as a professor of physics (1964). He retired in 1989, although he continued to perform research.

Throughout his career, Stoicheff served on numerous Canadian and international technical committees, including the Board of NRC, Quantum-Electronics Council, Council of Professional Engineers of Ontario, Ontario Nuclear Safety Review Committee, International Union of Pure and Applied Physics, the Royal Society of Canada, and Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. 

An OSA member for nearly 50 years and a CAP member for almost 60 years, Stoicheff was very active in both societies. He served as CAP president in 1983-84 and he was the first OSA member from outside the US to be elected OSA President (1976).

Stoicheff was elected an OSA Fellow in 1964. He received OSA’s William F. Meggers Award (1981), the Frederic Ives Medal/Jarus W. Quinn Endowment, OSA’s highest honor (1983), and the OSA Distinguished Service Award (2002) “for exceptional volunteer service to OSA over three decades, including the Presidency, the Board of Directors, the Publications Council, the Society Objectives and Planning Committee, and various other committees.” He was awarded the CAP’s Medal of Achievement, that society’s highest honor, in 1974.

Stoicheff was also the recipient of many other awards and honors. He was appointed University Professor in 1977 and Officer of the Order of Canada (1982), and he was elected Fellow of numerous societies, including the Royal Society of London, Royal Society of Canada, American Physical Society, Geoffrey Frew Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, and Foreign Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and Indian Academy of Sciences. He was awarded the Centennial Medal of Canada (1967), the Gold Medal of the Canadian Association of Physicists, the Henry Marshall Tory Medal of The Royal Society of Canada, as well as several honorary degrees. Stoicheff was the author and co-author of more than 150 papers on lasers, optics, and spectroscopy.

Donations to the Boris P. Stoicheff Memorial Scholarship fund may be sent to: OSA Foundation, Attn: Stoicheff Memorial Scholarship; 2010 Massachusetts Ave, NW; Washington, DC 20036 USA.

The OSA Foundation, created in 2002, is dedicated to supporting programs that advance youth science education, provide optics education and resources to underserved populations, and provide career and professional development resources. Contributions to the Foundation, a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, are deductible as provided by law. All donors receive special recognition and acknowledgements, unless they request to be anonymous. Donations to the OSA Foundation are matched dollar-for-dollar by the Optical Society. For more information, please contact the OSA development staff via telephone: (202) 416-1421; or e-mail:



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GRACE KLONOSKI is the Senior Director, Foundation, Membership & Education Services for the Optical Society of America, 2010 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20036; e-mail:; Web site:

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