Scientific prize

Lionel Clermont, winner of the SPIE Early Career Achievement Award


Optical engineer at the Centre Spatial de Liège (CSL), Lionel Clermont is the winner of the Early Career Achievement Award 2022 of the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE) in recognition of his significant achievements in the field of stray light control, in particular his work on the development of the ultrafast time-of-flight imaging characterisation method.

ADoctor in Space Science from the University of Liège, Lionel Clermont has worked on the stray light aspects of several space missions. In particular, he developed the in-field and out-of-field stray light correction algorithm for the Metop-3MI Earth observation instrument. This type of algorithm is expected to become a standard in the future of Earth observation, as performance requirements become increasingly stringent while physics sets a limit to what is achievable by design.

Together with his colleague Marc George, he has recently developed a novel approach to stray light monitoring in space instruments: Time-of-Flight (TOF) stray light characterisation, a step towards the development of more efficient space telescopes. This method overcomes the limitations of conventional approaches and provides the ultimate understanding of the stray light properties of a space instrument. He is currently involved in two projects with the European Space Agency (ESA) where he is applying the TOF method.

Ryan Irvin, Senior Optical Engineer at Photo Engineering recently said, "I was privileged to engage technically with Dr. Clermont through of our mutual expertise.He is already a leader in the field of optical design, analysis and testing for stray light control, but what is unique about Dr. Clermont's publications, I believe, is that he does not focus on just one aspect of the stray light control workflow; it is an end-to-end control philosophy that begins with design principles, extends to component testing and software predictions, and ends with actual hardware verification. At each stage, Dr Clermont is making new and practical improvements, and his work on the application of time-of-flight imaging to the stray light analysis and control process is one of the most significant advances in our field in the last decade. This new tool will enable stray light testing that can be directly correlated to the stray light models used in the 'verification by analysis' workflows that are relied upon to ensure mission success. In addition, his commitment to fostering a culture of experiential learning for future engineers should not be overlooked among his technical achievements. Not only does he teach courses on optical design, analysis and stray light, but he has also fostered a culture of mentoring within the Institute. For example, Mr. Clermont arranges for free copies of our company's optical analysis software to be provided to his trainees and takes it upon himself to teach the trainees how to use the software. This real-world training exposes these students to new engineering principles and tools that they might not otherwise have encountered. I consider his proactive support to be exemplary of the highest commitment to science."

About the SPIE

The international society for optics and photonics, brings together engineers, scientists, students, and business professionals to advance light-based science and technology. Founded in 1955, the Society connects and engages with our global constituency through industry-leading conferences and exhibitions; publications of conference proceedings, books and journals in the SPIE Digital Library; and career development opportunities. Over the past five years, SPIE has contributed more than $22 million to the international optical community through our advocacy and support, including scholarships, educational resources, travel grants, custom donations, and public policy development.

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