Iam-Choon Khoo was born in Penang, Malaysia in 1949. He attended the Chung Ling High School, the St. Xaviers Institution for Sixth Form, and the University of Malaya in 1968 and obtained the B.Sc with First Class Honors in Physics in 1971. He then went to the University of Rochester, NY, where he studied statistical mechanics with the late Elliott Montroll and theoretical quantum optics with Joseph Eberly. He received the M.A. and Ph. D. degrees in Physics from the University of Rochester in 1973, and 1976 respectively. After some post-doc and faculty experience at Ames Laboratory, University of Michigan, University of Toronto, Wayne State University, he joined Penn State in1984 as an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering, becoming a Full Professor in 1987. In 2000, he was awarded the title of Distinguished Professor.
Currently his research programs are centered on nonlinear optics and liquid crystals, and the development of nonlinear optical fibers and fiber arrays for optical switching and sensor protection application, and electro-optical and nonlinear optical phenomena and devices based on liquid crystalline materials. He is the principal author of over 390 technical publications [175 refereed journal publications/proceedings and 215 technical conference presentations], 11 invited book chapters, and the author, co-author or co-editor of 6 books. He has been the Editor-in-Chief for the journal Nonlinear Optical Physics and Materials since its inception in 1991. He is named the inventor in several patents, including one on extremely nonlinear photorefractive dyed-doped nematic liquid crystals, and one on nonlinear fiber array for optical limiting and sensor protection against laser radiation. Among the awards and honors he received are:- the Pennsylvania State Engineering Society PSES Outstanding Research Faculty Award in l987, the Penn State University Faculty Scholar Medal for Outstanding Achievements in Science and Engineering in 1988, the Fellow award of the Optical Society of America in l988, the PSES Premier Research Award in 1995, the IEEE Fellow award in 1998, and the United Kingdom Institute of Physics Fellow award in 1999.
Over the years, his laboratory has received continuous research funding from various Government agencies including:- the National Science Foundation, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Navy Air Development/Joint Services Program, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Air Force Phillips Laboratory, and the Army Research Office. He is a co- Principle Investigator in a Multi-University Research Initiative [MURI] beginning June 2001, and a senior investigator and Photonic Thrust leader in the National Science Foundation Material Research Science and Engineering Center at Penn State. He has developed and taught several undergraduate and graduate courses in lasers and electro-optics area, including the senior/graduate level Lasers-Principles and Applications, and the graduate level Lasers and Optical Electronics. He has also taught undergraduate courses in Fiber Optics, Electro-Optics and graduate level Nonlinear Optics, Quantum Electronics and Liquid Crystals.
He has served as panelist and reviewer for several US government agencies including the National Science Foundation, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and Army Research Office, the Italian Institute of Physics of Matters [INFM], and the Hong Kong Government Research Council. He has also been appointed external Ph. D. examiner [in physics and electrical engineering] for oversea universities such as Nanyang Technology University [Singapore], Trinity College [Ireland], and Chalmers University [Sweden], and served as reviewer for various technical journals including Physical Review, Applied Physics, Optics Letters, J. Optical Society of America, IEEE J .Quantum Electronics, Photonic Technology, Optical engineering and Optics Communication.
His previous responsibilities in LEOS include organizing and chairing the first and to date still the most attended Nonlinear Optics: Material, Phenomena and Devices Conference [Kauai, 1990], chairing the Nonlinear Optics Technical Subcommittee [1992-1995, 1999-2001], participation as committee members or chair in various nonlinear optics sub-committees for LEOS. He has also been very active in organizing and chairing the ‘Novel Optical Materials and Application biennial conference series [LEOS and OSA as cooperating societies] in Italy since 1993, and the annual SPIE - Liquid Crystal Conference series since 1997. As the Vice President of Technical Affairs for LEOS, one of his goals is work with the Technical Council and the various Technical Committees in a vigorous collective effort to enhance all technical activities of the society, and to better serve the needs of the membership. He will also seek to establish closer connection and working relationship with colleagues in other technical societies in US, Europe and the Pacific Rim. He believes that the quality, breadth and depths of the technical fundamentals of the various disciplines comprising LEOS, in addition to the international reach of LEOS membership, are valuable assets that could be further utilized to move forward and grow.
Iam-Choon and his wife, Chor San have been married for 26 years. Chor San is the Senior Director of Global Nutrition and Health Sciences for Campbell Soup Company World Headquarter. They have two sons - Richard, a senior at Cornell University, and Paul a ninth grader at Moorestown Friends School (Moorestown, New Jersey). I. C., as most people call him, is a veteran commuter – he has been driving back and forth between State College, PA and Mt. Laurel, NJ for almost 20 years. In his spare time, one of his favorite [but unfortunately too infrequently practiced] pastimes is to cast a line out near the Barnegat Light House in New Jersey; he managed to land some flounder, stripe bass and rock bass over the years. Other fun things he pursues involve mostly family members, and include cooking Italian foods, seeing some Broadway shows in NY, and frequenting the dim-sum joints in Chinatown, Philadelphia and watching Richard and Paul play their tuba and baritone in the school band.