The OSE Program’s Celebration and Tribute to our Beloved Leader

Departmental News

Mansoor Sheik-Bahae 225x300

Posted: July 17, 2023

The OSE Program’s Celebration and Tribute to our Beloved Leader

In Memoriam: Distinguished Professor Mansoor Sheik-Bahae

The multitude of tributes being offered to Distinguished Professor Mansoor Sheik-Bahae, who passed away from cancer last week, all touch on one essential quality - his exceptional humanity. Even before learning of his background or impressive scientific accomplishments, you were struck upon meeting him by his warmth, humor, and generosity. Students, collaborators, colleagues, and extended family members were drawn to him with many of us becoming lifelong friends.
While UNM was his home for almost 30 years, many different communities around the world mourn his passing. Mansoor grew up in Isfahan, Iran and readily talked of the beauty and history of that city. He visited his family there as often as he could. He had many family and friends in the Iranian community around the world.
He came to the U.S. in the midst of the Islamic Revolution and received B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. followed by a Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo. After time at the Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers (CREOL) at the University of Central Florida, Mansoor joined the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UNM in 1994. He was elected Fellow of the Optical Society of America in 2000 and became a UNM Distinguished Professor in 2014.
His research was characterized by a deep scientific understanding, originality, and a strong feel for practical applications. Combining his expertise in physics, optics (he was awarded the 2012 R. W. Wood Prize from the Optical Society), engineering (likewise, the 1990 IEEE/LEOS Engineer of the Year) and his abiding love of mathematics, he is known for the invention of the Z-scan technique, pioneering contributions to solid-state laser cooling, shedding light on the dispersion properties of nonlinear refraction in solids, and much more. He initiated numerous collaborations with institutions from all over the world and was a highly sought-after mentor and speaker. Mansoor expected much from the over 50 students and postdocs he mentored but always provided them with the wisdom and caring they needed to succeed.
Mansoor also made a lasting mark on the Optical Science and Engineering (OSE) Program at UNM. He chaired the program at key times for many years. Under his leadership, the OSE Program developed into one of the most successful interdisciplinary graduate programs at UNM and affected the lives of many more UNM students from many backgrounds.
His legacy is broad and deep, and his loss strikes those in the UNM community who knew him particularly hard. Together with his wife Sherry and daughter Anahita, we mourn the passing of a much-loved husband, father, colleague, and friend.
By Lifelong Friends and Colleagues,
Professor Emeritus of Physics and Astronomy, Dr. Wolfgang Rudolph
Former Chairperson, UNM Physics and Astronomy Department
Professor Emeritus of Physics and Astronomy, Dr. Kevin Malloy
Former UNM Associate Vice President for Research Initiatives