CSU honors Menoni and Rocca as Distinguished Alumni Employees

Jorge Rocca and Carmen Menoni

Electrical and Computer Engineering Professors Jorge Rocca and Carmen Menoni were honored as Distinguished Alumni Employees. 

What a journey it has been for Electrical and Computer Engineering Professors Carmen Menoni and Jorge Rocca. From their initial employment in 1979 as teaching assistants to their current status as University Distinguished Professors – the highest recognition available on campus – Menoni and Rocca have played an integral role in bringing international recognition and prestige to the university. This month, the duo were recognized by Colorado State University as Distinguished Alumni Employees for their individual and combined contributions to teaching, research and outreach.

“Menoni and Rocca show their CSU pride every day through their hard work and contributions to our missions,” said Alan Rudolph, vice president for research at CSU. “Their career accomplishments are truly remarkable and commendable, but these successes seem even more significant coming from our own alumni.”

Impact of combined contributions

For the last 37 years, Menoni and Rocca have worked tirelessly to advance the mission of the university and break new ground in their discipline. Recognized around the world as pioneers in laser science, optics, and engineering, they have established vibrant teaching and research programs at CSU. As prolific scholars, Menoni and Rocca have brought honor to CSU through their highly cited peer-reviewed articles, proceeding papers, book chapters and patents. Their work has appeared in the most influential publications in their field, such as Nature and its group journals, and Physical Review Letters.

Together, they have garnered more than $50 million in federal research funding. In 2003, Menoni and Rocca teamed up to secure the National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Center for Extreme Ultraviolet Science and Technology (EUV ERC) – a $32 million grant representing the first and only ERC for which CSU is the lead institution.

The center was named a CSU Program of Research and Scholarly Excellence, an honor reserved for programs that have achieved great distinction and set a standard for excellence in research, teaching, and service. The ERC, one of the pair’s foremost accomplishments, has served as the foundation for countless high-impact programs, multidisciplinary collaborations and industry partnerships.

More recently, Menoni and Rocca established XUV Lasers, a startup company in partnership with CSU to commercialize novel lasers, EUV sources and related technologies. Over the last five years, XUV Lasers has received significant grants and awards to develop a compact optically driven soft X-ray laser prototype.

Carmen Menoni (Ph.D. Physics, ’87) is an internationally recognized researcher and role model for women in engineering and science. She has established strong research programs in semiconductor physics, optical materials science and engineering and nanoscale imaging. She has led the use of bright beams of extreme ultraviolet laser light to demonstrate novel, nanoscale table-top microscopies. Menoni is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), American Physical Society (APS), Optical Society of America (OSA), and the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE). She is the recipient of an R&D 100 Award, widely recognized as the “Oscars of Innovation,” for leading the development of a compact extreme ultraviolet light-based microscope. In 2012, Menoni received CSU’s Scholarship Impact Award, the university’s highest recognition for accomplishments in research. She also received the IEEE Distinguished Lecture Award for the Photonics Society in 2014.

Jorge Rocca (Ph.D. Electrical Engineering, ’83) is an international leader in the development of compact X-ray lasers. The director and co-founder of the NSF EUV ERC, Rocca and his team have found ways to dramatically improve the quality of ultra-short wavelength light produced by small-sized lasers – a groundbreaking discovery particularly valuable for nanoscience and nanotechnology. Rocca is a fellow of the most important professional societies in his field: APS, OSA, and IEEE. Among his many achievements, he is the recipient of the Willis E. Lamb Award for Laser Science and Quantum Optics by Physics of Quantum Electronics and the prestigious Arthur L. Schawlow Prize in Laser Science from the APS. Rocca also received the IEEE Distinguished Lecturer Award from the Lasers Electro-Optics Society in 2008. Early in his career, he was named an NSF Presidential Young Investigator.