A. I enjoyed math, physics, and engineering in high school, so I was drawn to the “Optical Sciences & Engineering” major at the University of Arizona, which separately highlighted the science aspects and the engineering aspects of optics. I found my passion for optical design through summer internships designing and building optical engines for display systems. I dove into the Ph.D. in Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona knowing about the exceptional training in optical engineering that the research labs there have to offer.
My Ph.D. research has focused on a new beam steering and pattern steering technique. We expanded the Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) to have an additional degree of freedom by creating a programmable blazed grating across its active area. This means that we can not only steer a beam into different directions using the DMD, but we can also encode that beam with different spatial patterns in different directions. The difficult part was figuring out how to make it work, but now, the fun part is figuring out how it can be used in optical designs. So far, we’ve made hybrid holographic lidar systems for autonomous vehicles and a gigapixel display with 1,400 perspectives!