Ronald G. Driggers

R. Driggers is a Professor at the University of Arizona’s Wyatt College of Optical Sciences and works in the area of electro-optical and infrared imaging systems.¬†¬† Previously, he was appointed to the Senior Executive Service as the Superintendent of the Optical Sciences Division at the Naval Research Laboratory in 2008. ¬†¬†Before 2008, he was the Director of the Modeling and Simulation Division at the U.S. Army‚Äôs Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate (NVESD) and a brief period as the Chief of the Electro-Optics and Photonics Division at the Army Research Laboratory.¬† Dr. Driggers received a doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Memphis in 1990, is the author of five books on Infrared and Electro-Optics Systems.¬† He was Editor-in-Chief of the Encyclopedia of Optical Engineering (Taylor and Francis).¬† He was selected as the 2002 Army Materiel Command‚Äôs Engineer of the Year, 2001 CERDEC Technical Employee of the Year, and 2001 NVESD Technical Employee of the Year.¬† He is a retired U.S. Naval Reserve Officer and was selected as the 2001 Naval Engineering Duty Officer of the Year (William Kastner Award).¬† He is also a Fellow of the International Society for Optical Engineering, the Optical Society of America, and the Military Sensing Symposium.¬† He has been the Editor-in-Chief of SPIE‚Äôs flagship journal, Optical Engineering, and the Editor-in-Chief of the Optical Society of America‚Äôs journal Applied Optics.


Dr. Gerald Holst

Gerald Holst is an independent consultant for imaging system analysis and testing. He was a technical liaison to NATO, research scientist for DoD, and a member of the Lockheed-Martin senior technical staff. Dr. Holst has chaired the SPIE conference Infrared Imaging Systems: Design, Analy­sis, Modeling and Test­ing since 1989. He is author of over 30 journal articles and 6 books (published by SPIE and/or JCD Publishing). Dr. Holst is a member of OSA and is a SPIE Fellow. Dr. Holst has been collaborating with R. Driggers for over 30 years and has supported the infrared group for 5 years.

Dr. Holst has been working with Ron Driggers for over 30 years and has worked with the IR Group for the past 5 years.


Dr. Orges Furxhi

Dr. Orges Furxhi is a Principal with True Colors Infrared Imaging and an independent consultant. He holds a PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Memphis. Dr. Furxhi is a co-author of the third edition of the Introduction to Infrared and Electro-optical System book, has authored or co-authored close to 50 research publications, and has five issued patents. Dr. Furxhi was a Principal Member of Technical Staff at Imec working with the Camera, Lidar, and Holography groups in the Sense and Actuate Department. Prior to that he was the R&D Manager of the Camera Systems and Computational Imaging team at Imec. Before joining Imec he was a Director of Engineering at St. Johns Optical Systems where he was responsible for camera product development. He has been a postdoc with the Duke Imaging and Spectroscopy Program at Duke University and with the Center for Advanced Sensors and the Center for Large Scale Complex Systems & Integrated Optimization Networks at the University of Memphis. As a postdoc he developed several Infrared, Millimeter wave and Terahertz imaging systems.


Dr. Kyle Renshaw

Dr. Kyle Renshaw is an Asst. Professor in CREOL, the College of Optics & Photonics, at the Univ. of Central Florida where he holds joint appointments in the Department of Physics and Electrical and Computer Engineering. He conducts research in materials, components and technologies for imaging systems including detector, focal plane and lens technologies along with system architectures. He has authored over 20 journal articles, 15 conference papers and 6 issued patents. He is a member of the OSA, SPIE, and IEEE Photonics.



Recent Graduates

Dr. Robert Short (UCF)

Target Acquisition Performance Improvement with Boost and Restoration Filtering Using Deep-Electron-Well Infrared Detectors

Graduated 2020

Robert Short graduated from the University of Central Florida with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and M.S. in Optics & Photonics. His PhD dissertation work concerned the range performance impact of digital image filtering on certain types of LWIR sensors. Robert currently works at Leonardo DRS. His research interests include: sensor modeling & simulation, EO/IR systems, threat warning, and range performance modeling methods

Dr. Steve Butrimas (UCF)

EOIR, Lidar, and Radar imaging performance

Graduated 2020 
Co-Advisors: Driggers, Holst, Richardson, Pang

Steve Butrimas graduated from UCF with a BS in Physics and Electrical Engineering followed by a MS and PhD in Optical Sciences. His focus is on EOIR, Radar, and Lidar realtime simulation and imaging performance for high fidelity software and hardware in the loop applications. Currently he is working with Nvidia with a focus on autonomous vehicle simulation for camera, lidar and radar systems to meet the needs of sensor perception and vehicle hardware in the loop systems. Additional interests include IRST performance and realtime coherence simulations for AV applications.

Dr. Heath Gemar (UCF)

Spectral Dependence of Deep Subwavelength Systems in Midwave Infrared

Graduated 2021
Co-Advisors: Renshaw, Driggers, Yetzbacher

Heath Gemar graduated from Missouri State University with a B.S. in Physics and Mathematics and a M.S. in Material Science after completing a thesis on FTIR spectroscopy of hot exoplanets.  He is pursuing research at Naval Research Laboratory investigating the spectral characteristics of nano-apertures in metallic films. Additional projects and interest have included polarization measurements, coherence measurements, lidar implementation, IR systems, IRST, and more.

Dr. Robert Grimming (UCF)

UCIR Spectral Sensors (MultiUAS/MultiSensor)

Graduated 2022
Co-Advisors: Renshaw/Driggers

Robert Grimming is a retired Army Officer and a PhD graduate from CREOL at the University of Central Florida.  He holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point and M.S. in Optics from the University of Central Florida.  While in the Army, he served as an EOD Company Commander and a Nuclear and Counter-Proliferations Officer.  Throughout his career, he has taught as part of the faculty at the United States Military Academy, Valencia College in Orlando, FL, and the Laser-Photonics Magnet at Wekiva High School in Apopka, FL. 

Robert Grimming’s current research is in longwave infrared (LWIR) imaging with uncooled microbolometer systems.   He has participated on research projects at CREOL including LWIR applications for autonomous vehicle navigation and machine learning, multiband LWIR image enhancement, and atmospheric measurements with uncooled LWIR camera systems.

Current Students – Doctoral

Derek Burrell (PhD UA)

Speckle Mitigation in HEL Targeting Sensors
Support: Air Force Research Lab (Kirtland Onsite)
Co-Advisors: Driggers/Spencer

Derek Burrell earned his B.S. in electrical engineering from Michigan Tech before graduating from UCF CREOL with an M.S. in optics and photonics. He previously held internships in fiber-optic communications and automotive-lighting simulations and is currently finishing his UA Ph.D. offsite at the Directed Energy Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory. In addition to trade studies of electro-optic and infrared systems, his research interests include beam control and imaging through turbulence. Recently, he is been developing techniques for phase compensation and active target tracking, with an emphasis on mitigating laser speckle in applications involving wavefront sensing and coherent imagery.


Jennifer Hewitt (PhD UCF)

NIR/HSI Imaging Systems for Invasive Species Detection
Support: Air Force Research Lab and State of Florida (FFWCC)
Co-Advisors: Renshaw/Driggers

Jennifer received her BS in Physics from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and received her MS in Optics and Photonics from the University of Central Florida. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Optics and Photonics from the University of Central Florida, and is sponsored by the Air Force Research Lab as a SMART Scholar. Her current research incorporates experimental data from human vision perception tests to inform sensor design to detect invasive Burmese pythons in NIR.


Lindsey Wiley (PhD UA)

Targeting and ISR Performance of Extended SWIR
Support: Epi Sensors
Co-Advisors: Driggers and Brady

Lindsey Wiley earned her B.A. in Physics from Colgate University, where she performed undergraduate research on quantum entanglement as a means to diagnose disease, which first introduced her to the field of Optics. Prior to that, she performed elemental analysis of airborne particulate matter to determine sources of ambient air pollution, connecting her passions for the environment and human health with research. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Optical Sciences at the Wyant College of Optical Sciences in the Infrared Systems group. Her work includes developing a telescope testbed for long range target sensing to assess the range performance of various reflective bands under challenging atmospheric conditions.


Patrick Leslie (PhD UA)

MultiDrone/MultiSensor Research
Support: Army Research Laboratory (ARL)
Co-Advisors: Driggers and Holst

Patrick Leslie began his academic career at D’Youville College in Buffalo, NY where he graduated with a Biology / Pre-med bachelor’s in science.  After graduation, he worked at Corning Incorporated in the Applied Optical Research directorate he studied optics. The focus of his research at Corning was light-matter interactions between CO2, UV nanosecond, and ultrafast lasers and their interaction with glass / glass-ceramics.  Leslie started his Master’s in Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona with the hope to create a deeper understanding of the field of optics and a more encompassing view of its applications.  He currently works in the Infrared Systems group at UA studying the thermal signatures of power lines and the range performance comparison of the infrared bands.


Joshua Follansbee (PhD UA)

High Energy Laser Targeting
Advisor: Driggers

Joshua Follansbee earned a BS in Physics and Mathematics from the University of Notre Dame. Here, his research focused on optimization of reconstruction and control loops for the Fresnel Wavefront Sensor. He is currently working towards a PhD at the University of Arizona, where his work focuses on drone detection in the reflective bands, including the eSWIR, as well as drone-mounted sensors and surface reflectivity characterization.


Jonathan Wade (PhD UA)

Strap-down Pilotage System
Support: US Army Research Lab
Advisor: Driggers

Jon Wade holds a B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Memphis. He further pursued his academic career at the same institution, completing a M.S. degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering. During his master’s program, Jon focused his research on the characterization and calibration of hyperspectral imagers, which formed the basis of his thesis. Jon’s past experience includes internships at NVESD, where he contributed to the evaluation of broadband and spectral imagers. During these internships, he conducted studies on repeatability and reproducibility, as well as measurements of sensor characteristics.


Jordan Rubis (PhD UA)

MultiDrone/MultiSensor Research
Support: Army Research Laboratory (ARL)
Advisor: Driggers

Jordan Rubis earned her B.S. in Engineering Physics with a concentration in Electro Optics from the University of Tulsa. This program was completed with a capstone project that was focused on the optics of cone photoreceptors. This research was interested in the waveguiding properties of photoreceptors and how the eye accounts for chromatic aberration. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona directly after completion of her undergraduate degree.


Luke Somerville (PhD UA)

Topics in Target Acquisition
Support: Raytheon
Advisor: Driggers

Luke Somerville earned his B.S. in optical engineering from the University of Arizona with minors in Spanish, mathematics, and mechanical engineering before going on to complete his M.S., again in optical engineering from the University of Arizona. Luke’s master’s research focused on a study of the capabilities of the Night Vision Integrated Performance Model (NV-IPM) and its applications for infrared system analysis. He has worked as an intern in the optics section at Raytheon Technologies for three years performing optical design and conducting camera technology research. Luke’s additional research interests are in infrared system design and comparative analysis.


Eric Mitchell (PhD UA)

HEL Targeting with Coherence and Turbulence Effects
Support: US Army Space and Missile Defense Command
Co-Advisors: Driggers, Spencer

Eric Mitchell earned his B.S. in Physics from Montana State University before obtaining his M.S. in Optical Sciences from the UA Wyant College of Optical Sciences. He is currently finishing his Ph.D. remotely at the US Army Space and Missile Defense Command in Huntsville, AL. Previously, he held internships where he studied LIDAR technology and advanced coherent imaging techniques. While pursuing his M.S., he was apart of the Adaptive Optics group where he studied co-phasing methods for segmented beam propagation systems. Presently, he is working in the field of beam control for High Energy Laser (HEL) applications. His interests include adaptive optics and active imaging technology. His current area of research centers around active target tracking and wavefront sensing in deep turbulence conditions.

Current Students – Masters

Shane Jordan (Masters UA)

Comparison of Scene Contrast in MWIR and LWIR
Support: University of Arizona
Advisor: Driggers

Shane Jordan earned his B.S. in optical engineering from University of Arizona and is now pursuing an M.S. in optical engineering. His research aims to compare the intrinsic scene contrast of MWIR and LWIR for pilotage and other applications.


Richard “Col” Cavanaugh (Masters UA)

Aircraft Collision Avoidance
Support: SARA/US Navy
Advisor: Driggers

Richard Cavanaugh graduated from Loyola Marymount University in 2020, earning outstanding grades and academic achievements for his research in the humanities and social sciences. He is now pursuing an M.S. in Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona, with a projected graduation date of May 2024. As a member of the Infrared Systems Group, Richard has worked on medical multispectral image processing, vision-based navigation for GPS-denied environments, and EO/IR sensor design and testing for UAV (Uncrewed Aerial Vehicle) collision avoidance. Additional projects and interests include work in reflective and emissive band comparisons in low-light conditions, scene contrast comparisons in the MWIR and LWIR, and drone-mounted wide area coverage sensor systems.

Sara Margala (Masters UA)

Emission Characteristics of Infrared Materials
Support: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab
Advisor: Driggers

Sara Margala graduated with her B.S. in physics from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Her experience includes internships at the University of Missouri and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, as well as a position at Northrop Grumman. In addition to working towards her M.S. in Optical Science through the distance learning program, she is currently employed by Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab where she studies the optical properties of different materials.

Brian Kellermeyer (Masters UA)

Cryogenic vs. Non-Cryogenic Performance of Optical Systems

Support: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab
Driggers and Hall

Brian Kellermeyer earned his B.S. in Optical Sciences and Engineering in 2019 from the University of Arizona Wyant College of Optical Sciences. Currently, Brian is employed at US Army C5ISR Center Research and Technology Integration Directorate (RTI) supporting the development of infrared sensor payloads.  Brian is also completing a M.S. in Optical Engineering through distance learning with a projected graduation in 2024.  The focus of this degree centers around cooled hyperspectral systems that utilize in-dewar optics to minimize SWaP.

Current Students – Undergraduate

Jamie Ledbetter (BS UA)

Jamie Ledbetter is an undergraduate at University of Arizona and is earning her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering with an expected graduation date of May 2026. She has been involved in FIRST robotics, and specialized in mechanical design. She joined the IR Group in January 2023 to assist with data collection and analysis for MultiDrone/MultiSensor Research and other projects. 



Adam Katheder (BS UA)