Editor-in-Chief Ron Driggers shares a recent adventure, encourages readers to experience the upcoming total solar eclipse in the U.S., and announces that he has accepted a faculty position.

© 2017 Optical Society of America

In July, I took a break from my editorial responsibilities to go on a “Wild West Ride.” I shipped my motorcycle out to Salt Lake City and rode through Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Montana, and Idaho. My girlfriend and I spent 14 days tracing the paths of legends like Doc Holliday, Wild Bill Hickok, Buffalo Bill Cody, and Calamity Jane. All of the states we visited were unique, beautiful, and full of great sights and friendly people. Below I’ve included some photos of my girlfriend Patty and me at the beginning of the ride, the tent where we stayed in Moab, Utah, my bike (“The Beast”) with luggage and a guitar on the back, a buffalo (which Patty wanted to pet but I convinced her it was not a good idea) on the side of the road that was not afraid of my motorcycle, the Grand Canyon of Yosemite, and the two of us in front of Buffalo Bill Cody’s Irma Hotel (named after his daughter) in Cody, Wyoming.

Overall, the trip was a great deal of fun with lots of time spent outdoors and no real problems (aside from a back tire that shredded coming down a mountain). In the past, I have ridden across the United States from the East Coast to the West Coast and I have ridden a big circle around Europe. In the future, I would like to ride across Australia and possibly on the Silk Road in China. If I live long enough, I will add rides in South America and Africa to the list. I would highly recommend spending some time in the great outdoors and experiencing nature, whether you ride a motorcycle, bicycle, hike, or even drive through it.

Speaking of great experiences outdoors, I want to remind those of you in the United States that on August 21 there will be a total solar eclipse visible from coast to coast. The path of totality will cross the states of Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. This event is rare, and, while I have never seen one, it is said to be a fantastic spectacle where, for a few minutes, the daytime becomes a deep night with the sun providing a corona in the black sky. The rest of the country will be able to see a partial eclipse where some portion of the sun is covered by the moon, but the effect in these areas will not be as spectacular. Those in total solar eclipse are in the “umbra” of the moon and those in partial eclipse will be in the “penumbra.” I want to encourage all those who can to make the trip to one of the above states to be in the umbra and to witness total solar darkness and the magnificence of the event. Be careful to use filters and eye protection and to take other necessary steps to avoid eye damage prior to and after the total eclipse. The next total solar eclipse in the United States will occur in 2024. For more information, go to https://www.greatamericaneclipse.com.

Finally, next month I will become a professor in the College of Optics at the University of Central Florida (UCF). I have missed research and development and I intend to engage in the education of students through teaching classes and one-on-one research mentoring with graduate students.

I also will be developing a program around infrared system performance and infrared system concepts, design, and analysis and will be supporting both local and national efforts through funded research. I have always liked the “buzz” around the fall semester at a university with so much energy and excitement. In the past, I have felt that I contribute the most when mentoring younger students, grad students, post docs, and new faculty. It feels good to help them succeed and to make a difference in their lives. I, like many of my colleagues, have had more than my share of successes and recognition, and it is time to let others stand on our shoulders. I want to thank Dean Bahaa Saleh for the opportunity to participate in his great organization. I still will be involved with St. Johns Optical Systems at a lower level, but all my R+D will go through UCF and camera development and production will remain at SJOS.

Ron Driggers
Editor-in-Chief, Applied Optics
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