A Clemson University professor who is credited with pioneering innovations in the optical fibers that are critical to lasers and long-distance communication was elevated this month to Fellow of the professional organization IEEE.

The honor recognizes John Ballato for his scientific contributions to optical fibers and optoelectronic materials as well as his leadership in domestic photonics research and education through founding and directing Clemson’s Center for Optical Materials Science and Engineering Technologies (COMSET), and regional economic and workforce development associated with the Carolina’s photonics cluster.

John Ballato, right, works in a lab.

John Ballato, right, works in a lab.

Ballato is a professor of materials science and engineering and Sirrine Endowed Chair of Optical Fiber, which is associated with the SmartState Center of Economic Excellence in Optical Materials.

“The most humbling honors are those bestowed by one’s peers,” he said. “My most sincere thanks to those who nominated and selected me.”

IEEE stands for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the world’s largest and most prestigious electrical engineering professional society with over 420,000 members from 160 countries.

Ballato’s nomination was supported by Fellows from industry and academia in the United States, Canada, Australia, and England including past presidents of the IEEE and the Optical Society of America (OSA).

Safa Kasap, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan (Canada) and lead nominator, said that Ballato’s work has resulted in a wide array of important innovations relating to solid state lasers and nanophotonics.

In a supporting letter, Alan Willner, a University of Southern California professor and 2015 OSA President said that Ballato “has pioneered an exciting field with a great opportunity to yield both new science and novel and useful applications for telecommunications, sensing, and electronic and photonic devices.”

Fellows are selected annually by the IEEE Board of Directors following an arduous two-stage review process. In a given year, only 1 out of 1000 active members may be considered for Fellow, making the IEEE among the most difficult societies in which to achieve this honor, officials said.

“IEEE Fellow is a distinction reserved for select IEEE members whose extraordinary accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest are deemed fitting of this prestigious grade elevation,” according to the institute.

Ballato has published 350 peer-reviewed technical articles, holds 34 U.S. and foreign patents and has co-founded 3 start-up companies. His collaborative work on Anderson-localizing optical fiber was chosen as one of Physics World’s Top Ten Breakthroughs for 2014. In addition to his aforementioned academic appointments, Ballato previously has served as Clemson’s vice president for economic development and interim vice president for research.