Richard Juday has been awake since 2 a.m. preparing a packet about his life. At 8 a.m., he slaps it in front of me - a thick, stapled stack of papers and a digital version on CD - grabs a cup of coffee and waits for me to begin. At that moment, I am certain about one thing: Juday, a “retired” NASA scientist, is thorough, organized and very smart.He anticipated my questions; included 11 pages of his patents and titles of his published scientific works; added other fun, quirky bits about himself (he once worked night shift in a pickle factory); and tried to explain his complicated research, which led to his most recent honor.Just before the new year, Juday, 65, was elevated to the rank of “fellow” of the Optical Society of America for his accomplishments in optical science. He’s one of 58 scientists - out of 15,000 OSA members worldwide - who will be recognized by the association this year.

“It’s a recognition of achievement by my peers, and that’s a nice thing,” Juday said.

His award was for “technical contributions in optical correlation pattern recognition.”

To explain, Juday begins drawing a cartoon of his spatial light modulator and its use in optical correlators. In simple terms, modulators write a digital image onto a laser beam; optical correlators extract information from an image.

In one application of his research, Juday developed a method for missiles to recognize an enemy tank and hit it (and not hit one of our own). The pattern recognition happens at the speed of light.

Juday has other patents that use similar types of technology. One allows ophthalmologists to safely seal bleeding blood vessels in the retina. The technology uses an optical correlator to follow the twitches of a patient’s eyeball so the surgeon can hit the targeted vessel and avoid damaging other parts of the eye.

OSA executive director Elizabeth Rogan said scientists who not only successfully complete research but also figure out how to apply it are “stellar.”

“This is a huge recognition by people who also are highly esteemed in the field,” Rogan said. “The judges are at the top of their peer class. (The award) really recognizes they’re an exceptional member in the field.”

Juday retired and moved to Longmont in September 2001 with his wife, Darcy Temple, after working for NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston for 35 years.

Juday’s work there included using remote sensing information for crop-production forecasts, research involving radiation hazards for manned space flight, and research that provided vision for NASA’s robotic applications, such as spacecraft docking or having a robotic assistant find a wrench in space. He also championed several optical research development projects in Boulder and Longmont and, under NASA’s Small Business Innovative Research program, directed several million dollars to local businesses.

“I was able to retire in a place where I had influenced technical activity,” he said.

Juday’s list of extracurricular activities is almost as extensive as his professional bio. He’s president of his homeowners association and has participated in several city of Longmont boards. He enjoys woodworking, snowshoeing and traveling, and he plans to return to beekeeping this spring. He competes at a national level in badminton in the Senior Olympics.

In 2005, Juday ran for Longmont City Council. He participates in the city of Longmont’s Economic Vitality Task Force and sits on a committee that advises Boulder County commissioners on the expenditure of Scientific and Cultural Facilities District sales tax revenue. He also teaches optics to local middle school students.

He’s still active with the OSA and is a member of the Boulder chapter. He also co-wrote “Correlation Pattern Recognition” (Cambridge University Press; 2005), which is used as a textbook for graduate electrical engineering students.

“My wife would tell you I am really not quite retired,” Juday said. “I have no intention of slowing down.”

Susan Glairon can be contacted at 303-684-5224 or Copyright 2007, Daily Times-Call, The (Longmont, CO). All rights reserved.

Author: Susan Glairon
Section: B
Page: 1
Dateline: LONGMONT
Copyright 2007, Daily Times-Call, The (Longmont, CO). All rights reserved.