Lasting Lesson: Doane Earns SID's Inaugural Slottow-Owaki Prize for Career Dedicated to Display Education and Innovation

Dr. J. William Doane, who worked with countless students at the Liquid Crystal Institute at Kent State University, is the inaugural winner of SID's new award for excellence in display education.

by Jessica Quandt

KNOWN THROUGHOUT the display industry as an enormously influential teacher, a legendary salesman and fund-raiser, and an extremely gifted scientist, Dr. J. William Doane has served as a father-like figure to students, an inspiration to colleagues, and an innovator to whom myriad organizations and companies have endowed millions of dollars to pursue his visions. His name is synonymous with the rise and sustained success of one of the industry's greatest research facilities, and he continues to gain recognition as the founder of a successful display company.

The sum of these accomplishments is why the Society for Information Display (SID) has seen fit to bestow upon Dr. Doane a label of its own: as the first-ever recipient of the Society's Slottow-Owaki Prize for Outstanding Contributions to Information-Display Education. The award is named for two late professors – H. Gene Slottow from the University of Illinois and Prof. Kenichi Owaki from the Hiroshima Institute of Technology – who were leaders in early research into plasma displays. The award is being co-sponsored by Fujitsu, Ltd., and Dr. Tsutae Shinoda of Fujitsu Laboratories, Ltd.

Dr. Doane will receive his award on Monday, May 21, at the annual Honors and Awards Dinner as part of Display Week 2007: The SID International Symposium, Seminar & Exhibition, which this year is being held in Long Beach, California, U.S.A.

Bill Doane's start in the world of teaching was a result of circumstance. Upon receiving his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Missouri in 1965, Doane found himself in the middle of what he now calls a "unique" period in history, one in which scientists were being recruited more aggressively by universities than by American industry. Soon after graduation, Doane found work as an assistant professor in the Physics Department of Kent State University (KSU) in Kent, Ohio, working his way up to professor by 1974. "I was just plain lucky," Doane explained. "It's not easy, usually, to get into a university-type research position like that."

While luck may have been on his side, Doane's own dedication and talent as a scientist did nothing to hurt his career. In 1979, he became the associate director of Kent State's Liquid Crystal Institute (LCI), and 4 years later, he assumed the position of director, succeeding founder Glenn D. Brown.

Although it has become a world-renowned center for display research, back in the early 1980s the LCI was a fledgling program with some recognition in academic circles but zero clout in the American and global display industry. Dr. Doane knew he wanted to turn the LCI around, to make it not only a destination for top-notch students and researchers, but for grant- and contract-bearing industry heavyweights.

"I have to say that I didn't think at the time it was a strong program," Doane recalled his early days leading the LCI. "I think the Institute was well known in academic circles, but I thought the program was generally quite weak and that we were not as good as people thought we were."

Jessica Quandt is Editorial Associate for Information Display magazine; e-mail:


Dr. J. William Doane

Dr. Doane took immediate action to reshape the LCI. The first steps included involving the Institute more with industry and starting an applied-research program – a huge, expensive undertaking and not one that many people in his position would know how to execute successfully. Still, he recognized that in order for the LCI to succeed, the science that he and his students spent so many hours working on must offer actual potential for use in the industry.

"One of the most important aspects about Bill is that he is a very good scientist. But he also always had a vision of how to connect the physics with some potential use," said Dr. Slobodan Zumer, a professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia, who has worked with Dr. Doane since the early 1970s. "All the years that I have known him, he had that very important driving force and he really was very successful in this direction."

According to colleagues, what really set Dr. Doane apart was his enthusiasm for involving his students in the process of applying science to specific applications and then successfully selling the ideas. In his mind, student inter-action with industry was not just a perk of enrollment in his program – it was a necessary element of the curriculum.

"I wanted to teach my students not only to do research, but how to have a research program," Doane explained. "I think the key to that, and what I involved them in a lot, is how you fund it. Nobody will give you money just to do research. You have to sell your ideas and you have to make your ideas relevant to the problems of the day. You have to see how you can solve these problems. This is what I tried to do with my students, and I think it paid off."

Upon taking over the LCI, Dr. Doane began to build his applied-research program around polymer-dispersed liquid crystals (PDLCs), a technology based on electrically controlled light scattering that he had developed some years earlier with colleagues and students. Through its work with PDLCs – which became popular for use in switchable windows that can morph from transparent to opaque states – the LCI was eventually able to lock in contracts from General Motors and the U.S. Government.


Jan Rajchman Prize

(For Outstanding Scientific or Technical Achievement in, 
or Contribution to, Research on Flat-Panel Displays)


This year, the Society will honor longtime member and former Society President Professor Shigeo Mikoshiba with the Jan Rajchman Prize. Professor Mikoshiba will be honored for his outstanding contributions to the technology of plasma-display panels (PDPs) and liquid-crystal-display (LCD) backlights, including clarification of motional artifacts of images.

Professor Mikoshiba has helped to improve the picture quality of PDPs by identifying the phenomenon of "dynamic false contour." He has also made significant contributions to the luminous efficacy and luminance of PDPs through his advancement of the imprisonment theory so that it could be applied to plasma gases. In 1984, he discovered an intense and efficient vacuum-ultraviolet (VUV) emission from the Townsend discharge and later succeeded in applying this discharge to a PDP, fabricating an 8-in. color panel that achieved 20 times the luminous efficiency of previous PDPs.

Professor Mikoshiba also invented a "Grouped Address-While-Display Drive Scheme" that allows the use of a strong neutral density filter or polarizing filter to improve the bright-room contrast ratio of PDPs. He has even extended his work to LCDs, inventing a flat fluorescent lamp that made structures less complex, and experimenting with cylindrical external electrode fluorescent lamps for LCD backlighting to double both luminance and efficacy while reducing operating voltage.

"Plasma displays have become a mature technology thanks to the combined efforts of many talented engineers and researchers. Professor Mikoshiba is, in my mind, one of the most-outstanding contributors to the development of this technology," said SID Fellow Jean-Pierre Boeuf in endorsing Mikoshiba's nomination for this award. "His contribution spans the entire scope of PDP research and development."

"He set a new direction for the LCI," remembered Dr. John West, who began working with Dr. Doane in 1984 and eventually succeeded him as LCI director in 1995. "He was really instrumental in building industrial interaction and making sure that we were looking at applications. And he was also very effective at building collaborations."

While Dr. Doane's students were guided through their research on PDLC technology, they were also taught how to sell it. He quickly began involving his pupils in everything from the grant- and proposal-writing processes to meetings with visiting members of industry.

"He not only mentored us concerning classes and research, but he made sure we understood how to interact with people," recalled Dr. Joe Whitehead, the Associate Dean of Student Affairs at the University of Southern Mississippi's College of Science and Technology and a former Ph.D. student under Dr. Doane. "When visitors came to the Institute, such as managers from Goodyear or General Motors, he made sure that the students interacted with those type of people. He made sure we described our research to everyone in such a way that it was understandable, not just technical jargon. And so we were involved in every aspect of the research process, I guess with the insight that we would one day have to be leaders."

Although creating an applied-research program was important in terms of projecting the LCI to the world, Dr. Doane also strove to achieve an internal goal as well: securing enough funding to move the Institute onto the Kent State campus. For its first 20 years, the LCI was housed in a solitary building off the KSU campus. By moving the LCI onto the main campus and out of isolation, Doane realized he could encourage interaction with departmental faculty in the physics, chemistry, and biology departments and began lobbying to erect a new center on campus. The Institute finally moved to its new home on campus in the Science Research Laboratory in 1986. Though it would later move to the newer Liquid Crystal and Materials Science Building in 1996, it was at the Research Laboratory that Dr. Doane would have his biggest impact fund-raising, moving the program ahead, and, of course, forming bonds with his students that are just as strong today as they were 20 years ago.

"I really enjoyed working with my students. They were just so much fun and they're always so bright," Doane remembered, his voice giving way to his easy laugh. "I hope they got as much fun out of it as I did."

Overwhelmingly, they did. Today, Dr. Doane's former students talk of visits to Kent during which they would stay with him rather than stay in a hotel. They still speak with him on the phone, and they know it is a given that Dr. Doane will leave them the keys to his house if he is out of town during their visits. And they still reminisce fondly of their time spent under his guidance.

"He was extremely supportive and always took the time to help and speak with all the students," said Dr. Renate Crawford, Associate Dean of Engineering at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, who received her Ph.D. under Dr. Doane's tutelage in 1993. "Graduate school is not easy and having that type of environment – seeing someone having that kind of excitement and passion for their work and passing that along to students for so many years – makes all the difference."

Otto Schade Prize in Display Performance and Image Quality

(For Outstanding Scientific or Technical Achievement in, or Contribution to, the Advancement of 
Functional Performance and/or Image Quality of Information Displays)


The Society will recognize Dr. Andrew B. Watson this year for his contributions to vision science and computational modeling of the visual process, including applications to image-quality metrics and image compression. Dr. Watson has worked as a senior scientist for vision research at NASA Ames Research Center for more than 20 years and is also the founder of the Journal of Vision, an open online research journal.

"Watson has been at the forefront in the use of image processing to test visual models and the use of scientific visualization in portraying visual processes, and his governmental position at NASA allows for a good channel between the interests of industry and the products of academia," wrote Sharp Laboratories of America Research Fellow Scott Daly in endorsing Watson's nomination for the Schade Prize. "His works, as well as his colleagues, have essentially supplanted the former role of RCA Sarnoff Labs in providing vision science for the display engineer, as originally investigated by Otto Schade."

"Dr. Watson's research and engineering contributions are a natural extension of the approach that Dr. Schade introduced to evaluate display image quality," wrote Stanford Center for Image Systems Engineering Executive Director Dr. Joyce E. Farrell in her endorsement of Watson. "Just as Dr. Schade adapted the concept of the Modulation Transfer Function (MTF) to characterize the visual performance of displays, Dr. Watson developed the concept of the Cortex Transform to predict the visibility of displayed images. The MTF describes the spatial-frequency response of a single visual channel. The Cortex Transform describes the spatial-frequency response of multiple visual channels. Both are valuable engineering tools for characterizing the performance of displays and human observers."

Dr. Watson is well known throughout the industry for his computational models for human spatial contrast detection and discrimination. He was also instrumental in starting Modelfest, an organization that has succeeded in standardizing a scientific methodology for the test and development of image-quality metrics.

Renate Crawford's husband, Dr. Gregory Crawford, was also a Ph.D. student under Doane, earning his degree in 1991. As an undergraduate at Kent State, Crawford had never worked with Doane, but admired his work from afar.

"He was one of those guys who was sort of bigger than life at Kent State because of all he had accomplished," Crawford recalled. "He was obviously very active and everybody wanted to work with him."

Crawford got his chance in 1987, when he asked the vaunted professor to take him on board the summer after finishing his undergraduate degree. Dr. Doane agreed, and Crawford soon learned that the man who had once seemed like a scientific deity was, in fact, a grounded friend and mentor to all his students.

"He was one of those guys where you would go into his office with a problem and automatically – even though you may not have seen him for a couple of weeks or he may not have known exactly what you were doing – he would always have a direction for you to take to move forward," Crawford remembered.

"Most of the time, looking from the outside in, most people think very good scientists who are leading large research efforts are hard to get along with, hard to approach," Whitehead added. "But he's very down to earth and that is what impressed me because you see many arrogant people. But he's not like that. He worked very hard and he wanted us to succeed. We had every opportunity."

In 1990, the man who had become known for his orchestration of opportunities found a golden one of his own. That year, Dr. Doane got word that the government-funded National Science Foundation (NSF) was looking to finance a number of science and technology research centers in the U.S. and was seeking proposals. He knew that his years of work building an applied-research facility and learning how to market its technology would give the LCI a leg up on the competition.

"What the NSF saw was a lot of science being done (in the United States), but not anything being done with it. A lot of the industrialization was being done on foreign shores and not in the U.S., so why wasn't there a bigger connection? Their interest was in connecting science and technology," Doane explained. "And when they started advertising for these science and technology centers, we were ready for it. We were already established and already knew how to work with industry, and that's what they wanted. We already had a technology (PDLC) that had lots of value in the industry and lots of potential. And we had the faculty trained and ready. So we happened to hit on that – we got that just exactly right."

Johann Gutenberg Prize

(For an Outstanding Technical Achievement in, or Contribution to, Printer Technology)


As a research fellow with Xerox Corp. since 1981, Dr. Jeffrey Folkins has made innumerable contributions to printer technology. Dr. Folkins's work has resulted in advances in electro-photographic printing, including development systems, charging, transfer, sensors, controls, measurement techniques, and system and subsystem optimization.

Many of Dr. Folkins's inventions have been incorporated into Xerox products. These inventions include a concept for stabilizing electrophotographic developer material performance, a system for monitoring and controlling toner concentration in the developer, the magnetic brush electrostatic voltmeter, and the twin auger developer cross-mixer. His work on the sequential development of four toner images onto a photoreceptor, followed by single-step transferring of the composite four-layer image onto the final paper substrate, lead to a new generation of Xerox products, including the flagship iGen3 digital press.

More recently, Dr. Folkins has become an innovator in the field of solid ink-jet technology. His work includes system techniques, image-quality sensing, and subsystems developments for new high-productivity solid ink-jet architectures which are expected to have significant impact on Xerox's future business success.

Dr. Folkins holds 80 patents, with 12 more pending. The technologies he has developed are found in at least 14 current Xerox products and are planned for inclusion in many future product platforms.

Lewis and Beatrice Winner Award

(For Exceptional and Sustained Service to the Society for Information Display)


This year, this prestigious award will be given to Dr. Andras I. Lakatos. Dr. Lakatos is a longtime member of SID who has served throughout the years as President of the Society, SID Symposium General Chair, International Display Research Conference (IDRC) Chair, Honors and Awards Chair, liaison to the Society for Imaging Science and Technology (IS&T), and a founder of the Color Imaging Conference.

But perhaps his most important contributions to SID and its membership stem from his role as editor of the Journal of the Society for Information Display (JSID). Dr. Lakatos took over JSID in 2000, when the journal was suffering from a shortage of quality paper submissions and a quarterly publishing rate that was chronically behind schedule. Dr. Lakatos "revived" JSID, according to Dr. Aris Silzars, who is the chair of SID's Publications Committee.

"Under Andy's drive and leadership, we now have a publication that is on time and published each month with typically no less than 10 papers of excellent quality," Silzars commented.

More recently, Lakatos has continued to boost the prestige and quality of the Journal, making it available online and obtaining listings in prestigious academic databases such as Thomson Scientific's Science Citation Index Expanded (SCIE).

The NSF agreed to fund the Center for Advanced Liquid Crystalline Optical Materials (ALCOM) – a cooperative effort between KSU and nearby colleges Case Western University and the University of Akron – starting in 1991, and the LCI was selected as its headquarters. According to information on the NSF Web site, ALCOM was created to "provide a new, comprehensive, vertically integrated approach to research in liquid-crystalline optical materials, with the major goal of improving the understanding of these materials on both molecular and macroscopic levels to allow prediction and optimization of their optical behavior." By the time NSF's 11-year contract with ALCOM expired in 2002, the government organization had awarded the center more than $23 million.

Dr. Doane credits any number of external factors with his success in bringing LCI to the attention of NSF, ranging from support from the then-governor of Ohio to pure and simple luck. Everyone else, though, lauds Dr. Doane's talent and hard work as the defining factors in bringing ALCOM to Kent.

"Bill basically put together this NSF center, which was very important for the development of the LCI because this was something that brought a lot of prestige and funding," Zumer said. "(Fund-raising) is still going on there today, but later on they had more trouble with getting grants that would be comparable to the ones in which Bill succeeded."

"It was really his doing and his organization that led to the LCI becoming the headquarters for ALCOM," recalled West, who assisted Dr. Doane in the initial ALCOM proposal and took over directorship of the NSF center in 1996 after his mentor retired. "He had a program that was solid and well-funded. He had hired excellent staff and faculty. So it was a program that was energetic and poised to do even better. It was a great program to take over and to continue."

One of Dr. Doane's favorite aspects of ALCOM was the kindergarten through 12th grade educational-outreach program. When the NSF offered its support for such a program, Dr. Doane and his students jumped on it. He saw the plan as a way to get American students involved in science and technology – he never understood Americans' seeming lack of interest in these subjects. His students, however, saw it as an opportunity to take on the roles of teachers.

"I would say that I didn't do it myself because some of my students help do it. They were just excellent at it and they loved to do this sort of thing," Doane recalled. "Science outreach was really just starting out at that point. Right now, it's an entire field, but at that point, it wasn't nearly as common, and he clearly saw the benefit of it," Renate Crawford remembered. "Several of the graduate students, including myself, were very much involved in that and he was very supportive. He influenced my career choice. And now, being in education and being in academia, I know that it was during that time working in the labs with him and working with the education outreach that I realized that education was clearly a passion of mine as well. It was a passion of his, and it was contagious."

Today, the K-12 outreach program offers local schools educational classroom visits to teach kids about liquid crystals through hands-on demonstrations, provides lesson plans online for teachers outside the area, and connects educators worldwide to ALCOM through its online Ask-a-Scientist Web site.

Today, Dr. Doane has taken a step back from his status as the liquid-crystal guru at Kent State. He now spends much of his time working at Kent Displays, a company he formed in 1993 – 3 years before retiring as Director of the LCI and ALCOM – to learn more about the industrial world after a career spent in academia. He maintains the title of Director Emeritus at the LCI, in addition to an on-campus office he visits when he gets a chance.

"I like the direction in which they (the LCI) are going now," Doane said. "There have been some new breakthroughs that are very exciting in terms of using liquid crystals in biological systems, and I see a current effort at the Institute that can go in that direction. I think there is a marvelous opportunity there. Some other people are looking more into the areas of optics rather than just displays. So, I'm happy to see that the Institute is broadening itself out beyond the display world and into other directions. As they do that, they are likely to come up with even more new types of display technologies that we have not even thought of. So, I'm happy with the way I see things are going there."

Fellow Awards

Each year, the Society elevates distinguished SID members to Fellows of the Society. The 2007 Fellows are:

• Dr. Michael Hack
"For his many contributions to the science and technology of flat-panel displays, including the simulation and modeling of thin-film transistors and the development of liquid-crystal and organic light-emitting displays."

• Professor Myung Hwan Oh
"For his contributions to white-light inorganic electroluminescent backlights for cell phones and his leadership in the advancement of the Korean display industry."

• Dr. Kenji Okamoto
"For his outstanding leadership and contributions to developing multi-domain vertically aligned liquid-crystal displays for large-sized flat-screen monitors and television displays."

• Dr. Kalluri Sarma
"For his many contributions to developing active-matrix liquid-crystal-display designs for avionics displays, including methods for wide viewing angle and operation in extreme environmental conditions."

• Professor Yoshifumi Shimodaira
"For his many contributions to the understanding and improvement of picture quality in display systems and for his activities in support of the Society for Information Display."

• Professor Deng-Ke Yang
"For his significant scientific and technological contributions to bistable, reflective, cholesteric displays and to polymer-stabilized cholesteric devices, and for his outstanding contributions to education in the field of liquid-crystal technology."


Dr. Doane is so happy with the way his successors – first West and now Oleg D. Lavrentovich – have continued to shape the LCI that he says his main pool when hiring new staff for Kent Displays today comes from LCI students and graduates. He knows they have been well trained, knows they have a solid foundation from the Institution he himself helped to shape, and knows they will help him make this "retirement" venture just as successful as his tenure at the LCI. And his continued commitment to excellence – and to LCI students – surprises no one.

"He's just never stopped being passionate about what he has done," Greg Crawford stated. "And everyone respects him for it in a big way." •

Special Recognition Awards

The Society recognizes individuals for specific outstanding achievements. The 2007 Special Regognition Award winners are:

 Dr. In-Jae Chung
"For his outstanding contributions to the development of higher-performance liquid-crystal displays with larger apertures and larger display areas through the use of copper bus lines and for reducing display-manufacturing costs by lowering the number of mask steps."

 Mr. Alex Henzen
"For his contributions to the development of electrophoretic displays and the integration of these displays into an innovative electronic-book product."

• Dr. Kalil Käläntär
For his outstanding contribution of introducing a novel optical design method for the light guides used in liquid-crystal-display backlights."

 Dr. Sang Soo Kim 
"For his leadership in the development of super-patterned ITO, vertically aligned (S-PVA) liquid-crystal-display technology with integrated amorphous-silicon row drivers for liquid-crystal-display applications.

 Dr. Walter Riess and Dr. Takatoshi Tsujimura
"For their leading contributions to the design of top-emitting large-area active-matrix organic light-emitting displays driven by amorphous-silicon thin-film transistors."

 Mr. John Rupp
"For his leadership and initiative over a multi-year period to develop the first avionics-grade full-color active-matrix liquid-crystal displays for commercial aircraft."

 Mr. Koichi Sakita
"For his outstanding contributions to the development of a design methodology for the electronic drive waveforms for three-electrode plasma displays through the use of the Vt closed-curve method."

• Dr. Marko Slusarczuk
"For his leadership in creating and managing the DARPA high-definition-display program which advanced a wide range of display technologies, including active-matrix liquid-crystal, plasma and projection displays and also developed innovative equipment to commercially manufacture these displays."