Dr. Murty V. Mantravadi was born in India in 1929 and had educational and professional careers in India and United States and for a short period in Mexico. He obtained B.Sc. with majors in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry from Andhra Christian College in Guntur, India in 1949. He then obtained a Diploma in Instrument Technology (D.M.I.T.) from Madras Institute of Technology, Madras, India in 1952. He was a lecturer at the same institute until 1955. He enrolled in the Ph.D program of Institute of Optics, University of Rochester, at Rochester, New York early in 1956, earning a Ph.D. degree in Optical Engineering in 1959.
From 1959 till 1964 he was on the faculty of the Institute of Optics teaching courses and doing research in Optical Testing, Interferometry, Geometrical and Physical Optics and lab courses. At the end of 1964, he went back to India and was Professor of Instrument Technology at Madras Institute of Technology till 1966. From 1966-1982 he was head of the Optics Section of the Spectroscopy Division of Bhabha Atomic Research Center at Bombay, where he was involved in Optical Testing, setting up the optics shop, building various instruments for the Atomic Energy department, Spectroscopy and research.
Dr. Murty was a visiting Professor for short periods, to the Instituto Nacional de Astronomica, Optica y Electronica in Puebla, Mexico, also to the U of R Institute of Optics in Rochester, New York in 1973 and Centro de Investigacion en Optica in Leon, Mexico in 1980. During his Mexican visits, he collaborated with Dr. Daniel Malacara by contributing two chapters on Optical Testing and Interferometery to the book OPTICAL SHOP TESTING, edited by Dr. Malacara, a book with which some OSSC members may be familiar. In 1982 he left India and joined the Centro de Investigacion en Optica, Leon, Mexico as a professor till 1984. He came back to United States in 1984 and worked at Halo Technologies, Costa Mesa, California as Chief Scientist till 1986 and as Professor of Physics at Alabama A&M University at Huntsville, Alabama till 1987. He then joined Northrop Corporation, Southern California in 1987 as Research Engineer and retired from Northrop Grumman at the end of 1994.
It may be of interest to OSSC members that former OSSC Presidents Reddy Chirra and Edward Hagerrott were Dr. Murty’s students at the U of R Institute of Optics. Also the late Vas Kumar, an Optics Manager at Northrop was Dr. Murty’ student at Madras Institute of Technology while he was a Professor there. At Northrop, Dr. Murty was involved with testing programs, holography, etc.; OSSC Presidents Tom Godfrey, Susan Raffensperger, David Cook, Walter Clark and members Dr Jim Hall, Dennis Rose and Dr Larry Scherr were close collaborators with Dr. Murty at Northrop.
Dr. Murty has presented at various conferences and published in refereed journals such as JOSA, Applied Optics, SPIE Optical Engineering, etc. more than 120 papers relating to Optical Testing, Interferometry, diffraction, spectrometers, optical devices and gadgets, etc. He was the originator of the shear plate testing method to check for aberration and collimation of a laser beam. The method was devised almost immediately after the He-Ne laser was available in 1963 and the publication was made subsequently by him in Applied Optics. The present topic of his presentation OPTRICKS is somewhat based on his interest in optical phenomena which seem baffling at first but can be explained after some thought and the use of optical principles.
Dr. Murty is a Fellow of Optical Society of America, a Fellow of the SPIE, a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the Optical Society of India.
As an aside to the name of Dr. Murty, his full name given by his parents at birth was Mantravadi Venkata Radha Krishna Murty. Mantravadi is the surname and it is traditional to write it first and also use an initial for it. When the name is long, initials are used for other parts of the given name. So, Dr. Murty was known for a long time and in his publications as M.V.R.K.Murty. After he became naturalized as United States citizen, he has styled his name as Murty V. Mantravadi. One result: the SPIE lost track of him and indicated with an asterisk by Murty’s name in the Fellows list one year, that he was deceased!
Dr. Murty received the first OSSC Lifetime Achievement Award in October 2014 at an OSSC meeting at Precision Optical in Costa Mesa, CA. This meeting also highlighted the National Photonics Initiative (NPI).
Dr. Murty Mantravadi lives with his wife Suryaprabha in Carson, California. He is available for occasional optical consulting. The Murty’s have 6 children (three on the East Coast, one in Florida and two close by in Southern California.)