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AFRL researchers honored by SPIE Society

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE – SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, recently welcomed 72 new fellows of the society, including the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Wellesley Pereira and Christopher Wilcox.

They are being recognized for their significant scientific and technical achievements, as well as for their service to the optics community and to SPIE.


Pereira began working at the AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate in 2011. He received his Ph.D. in Physics from Michigan Technological University in 2003.

Wilcox joined AFRL in 2018, where he is an electrical engineer with the Directed Energy Directorate. His research areas include optics, adaptive optics, aero-optics, mathematical modeling, and hardware interfacing and control, which involves the use of computers or electronic systems to interface with devices to collect data.

“This is a tremendous honor and I’m very humbled by it,” Pereira said. “Being recognized by SPIE for my accomplishments means that all my years of dedicated hard work with research and publications in both open and closed literature, service to SPIE and the community, a volunteer science fair judge, SPIE session chair, or journal associate editor, have been acknowledged by a Society that values technical and service contributions. This bright spotaward encourages me to continue to pursue science and technology for both military and civilian applications.”

“Being recognized as a Fellow of SPIE is the culmination of the past 16 years of work, ever since I finished my undergraduate degree, started grad school, and began working in the field of optics,” Wilcox added. “Over the years, I have had the opportunity to publish dozens of papers as first author, been co-author on


nearly 100 papers and have two government patents to my name.

Pereira said the biggest highlight of his career was “seeing my project fly in space.”

“Watching it finally shoot to orbit (on an Atlas V rocket) was an exhilarating experience, but knowing that it eventually worked as designed was a tremendous sigh of relief that made it all worth the years of rigor that included proposal-writing, benchtop and field testing, building and calibrating, data analysis, and presentations,” he said.

Wilcox, who received his bachelor’s degree at New Mexico Tech, and a master’s and Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico, also worked at the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and has 15 years of federal service with the Naval Research Laboratory.

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