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Xincheng Yao elected Optica Fellow

Richard and Loan Hill Chair Xincheng Yao

Richard and Loan Hill Chair Xincheng Yao, PhD, of the department of biomedical engineering, has been elected as a 2024 fellow of Optica.

Formerly known as the Optical Society of America, Optica aims to advance optics and photonics worldwide and is dedicated to promoting the generation, application, archiving and dissemination of knowledge in the field.

Yao was elected for “exceptional contributions to functional optical coherence tomography imaging and ultra-widefield fundus photography.”

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a non-invasive light imaging technology to take three-dimensional photographs of the retina. As OCT modality extensions, functional OCT, and OCT angiography (OCTA) can provide an objective assessment of retinal physiology. Yao’s team has pioneered functional OCT developments for intrinsic signal optoretinography (ORG) of the retina. His team is also developing ultra-widefield fundus photography and exploring machine learning and deep learning for AI detection and classification of eye diseases.

“It’s a great honor to be elected as a fellow,” Yao said. He has been a member of Optica for 20 years. Yao also noted that less than 10 percent of Optica’s total membership are elected as fellows.

Optica Fellows are selected based on several factors, including outstanding contributions to research, business, education, engineering, and service to Optica and their community.

Yao is currently serving as an associate editor of the Biomedical Optics Express journal, Optica Publishing Group’s principal outlet for serving the biomedical optical community with peer-reviewed papers related to optics, photonics, and optical imaging in biomedicine, along with fellow Biomedical Engineering Associate Professor Kamran Avanaki. He is also a fellow of the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE), and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE).

“I firmly believe that this honor should not be attributed to me alone,” Yao said. “It is an honor for our entire research group, including both our current and former lab members, and our collaborators. Without the dedicated efforts of our students, postdocs, and visiting scholars, the research work accomplished in our lab would not have been possible.”

Yao added that if his students know that others are paying attention to their lab work and they are doing meaningful research, it will be a great encouragement for all his students to keep their enthusiasm for biomedical optics and ophthalmic imaging study.

Yao also serves as a professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. He earned his PhD from the Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and was a postdoctoral researcher in the Biophysical Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico.

Yao, along with the other 129 members, from 26 countries, to be elected to the Society’s 2024 Fellow Class will be honored at Optica conferences and events throughout 2024.

“I really appreciate the generous support from our department and from UIC,” Yao said. “In particular the Hill family’s generosity.”