Optica Developer Receives Queen's Anniversary Prize
May 4, 2001--Donald Barnhart, developer of the Mathematica
application package Optica, is a member of a team that was recently
awarded the Queen's
Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education 2000, a biennial
recognition of outstanding educational achievement in areas of service and
benefit to the nation. Barnhart, a Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering
at England's Loughborough University, is part of the Optical Engineering
Group (OEG) that was recognized for its pioneering role in developing
applications of modern optics and laser technologies to find practical
solutions to real-world problems.
The applications developed by the Loughborough OEG have been utilized in
manufacturing and environmental industries, health and safety, medicine,
defense, entertainment, and the arts; and the OEG now provides a national
resource that is internationally respected. Says Barnhart, "Our Optical
Engineering Group is made up of perhaps 20 separate research staff from
the departments of mechanical and electrical engineering. In this regard, the
award goes beyond the work of any one individual or research effort and
recognizes the legacy of our group as a whole."
During the awards ceremony, which was held at Buckingham Palace, Barnhart
had the opportunity to meet Queen Elizabeth, shake her hand, and speak a
few words to her about his research activities. Afterwards, he was invited to
lunch at the Royal Society, a prestigious scientific organization
dating back to Isaac Newton in which membership is a great honor.
A long-time Mathematica user and developer, Barnhart says he uses
Mathematica "in virtually every facet of my research life." That
focused on developing new methods for taking holographic velocity
measurements in fluid and solid mechanics. Barnhart also opted to write
his entire 250-page doctoral dissertation in Mathematica and says that
he has found Optica "to be particularly essential in my design of the
holographic velocimetry systems at Loughborough University."
Barnhart, who will graduate in July, is currently concentrating most of his
efforts around finishing Optica 2, the next version of Optica.
In the fall, Barnhart plans to relocate back to the Champaign-Urbana area
where he hopes to continue the development of several exciting
Mathematica-based software packages as well as to establish a
research alliance with the University of Illinois.