CLEMSON — A Clemson University professor who specializes in making optical fiber and has won just about every top honor in his field has added another high-flying accolade to his collection.

John Ballato

John Ballato

John Ballato, a professor of materials science and engineering and Sirrine Endowed Chair of Optical Fiber, has been elected an academician in the World Academy of Ceramics, an honor expected to boost Clemson’s international reputation.

Appointment as academician goes to individuals who have made internationally renowned contributions to the advancement of ceramics culture, science and technology. The academy’s total membership is limited to about 200 people worldwide.

“I’m honored,” Ballato said. “It’s always humbling to be recognized by your peers. This appointment is particularly special because the members come from all over the world. So many others are equally deserving.”

Ballato founded and for 14 years directed the Center for Optical Materials Science and Engineering Technologies (COMSET) at Clemson University. The center has been involved in more than $55 million in sponsored research and has been designated by the state as a Research Center for Economic Excellence with three affiliated SmartState Endowed Chairs.

It’s the latest in a string of awards for Ballato. He won the 2014 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Scientific Research. Also in 2014, Ballato won Clemson’s top honor for faculty members: the Class of ’39 Award for Excellence. In 2015, he was elected to the National Academy of Inventors. Ballato was also involved in research that made Physics World’s “Top Ten Breakthroughs of 2014.” The team pulled a concept from the Nobel Prize-winning physics of electrical conductors — Anderson localization — and used it in endoscopic imaging that could help doctors look inside the body.

rsz_john_ballatoOptical fiber has long been used to make light do amazing things and is probably best known for transmitting data over the Internet.

But Ballato is taking the technology to the next level. His research is helping make lasers that shoot down missiles and sensors that could help detect leaks in nuclear reactors.

Congratulations on Ballato’s academician status came from across the university and world.

Richard E. Riman, a Rutgers University distinguished professor, nominated Ballato to become academician. Edgar Zanotto, a professor from Brazil, and Dave Johnson, a member of the National Academy of Engineering and retired Bell Labs manager, served as references. Final appointment was ultimately up to the academy’s council.

“Dr. Ballato is clearly deserving of academician status in the World Academy of Ceramics,” Riman said. “His scholarly success have been numerous and global in impact.”

Rajendra Bordia, chair of Clemson’s materials science and engineering department and a World Academy member as well, also played an instrumental role in nominating Ballato for the honor.

“This is well-deserved,” Bordia said. “It is a significant international recognition of the outstanding contributions that John has made to ceramic and glass science.”

Ballato also is a fellow of The American Ceramic Society, The International Society of Optical Engineering and The Optical Society of America.

He has co-authored 200 peer-reviewed journal articles and 125 reviewed conference papers. He has received 33 U.S. and foreign patents.

Among those also sending congratulations on Ballato’s latest honor was Anand Gramopadhye, dean of the College of Engineering and Science.

“This is a great honor and testament to John’s accomplishments,” he said. “It also helps boost Clemson’s already stellar reputation in materials science and engineering around the world.”

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