AAAS Lecture Series on Women in Science and Engineering

Essay: Magaly Spector

Magaly Spector or Magaly Perez Bernal was born on July 4 1952 in Cuba. Her single mother with just an elementary school education could hardly support the family. Consequently, her family lived in very deprived conditions with just the minimum to survive. Early in her life she decided to work very hard and give the best in everything that she tried. She sets up high goals in her life and passionately pursued them. She graduated with the highest honors from high school. At the age of fourteen, she won the Cuban Scholar Chess Championship. One year later, she earned the second place in the open Cuban Chess Championship. Her daughter was one year old when she started attending Havana University at the very challenging Physics School. Working part time, taking care of her infant daughter and going to school full time under very precarious economic situation was one of the first tests of her strong will to overcome strenuous difficulties in her way toward accomplishing her goals. She graduated in 1977 with a Licensed in Physics degree from Havana University. She won the University Chess Championship every year during her undergraduate studies. In 1978-79 she won the Cuban Chess Championship. Following her dreams of freedom, she came to the USA by boat in 1980 with her eight years old daughter as a political refuge. In 1981, one year after arriving to USA she was hired as Senior Technical Staff by AT&T Bell Labs. Her desired to advance and to establish her credentials in the AT&T Bell Labs environment led her to enroll in the Graduate Program at Lehigh University when her son was 4 months old in 1983. Again a superhuman effort was required from her to obtain her Master degree in EE and a PhD in Physics. This time working fulltime at AT&T Bell Labs with a baby and a teenager daughter she pursued and successfully achieved her Graduate degrees. Words can’t describe the incredible courage, determination , and strong will she had to display during those years. Tragically, she lost her daughter during her last year of her PhD. In spite of all the pain she was going through she culminated her PhD thesis on persistent photoconductivity in AlGaAs/GaAs heterostructures with a highly recognized publication in the prestigious Physical Review Letters in 1993.

Dr Spector contributions to AT&T Bell Labs and Lucent Technologies are countless. She has sustained vast scientific and technological contributions in the fields of semiconductor materials, laser characterization, GaAs ICs, and Fiber Optical Communication Systems.

From 1981 to 1985, she created a wafer non-invasive method to predict laser wavelength and built a computer controlled photocurrent test set to implement this new materials characterization method. This method allowed the prediction of the laser emission wavelength from noninvasive photocurrent measurements performed in the wafer stage just after the material growth was completed and before the devices were fabricated. She transferred this method to manufacturing where it was crucial on the process to fabricate large volume semiconductor lasers for ligthwave communication applications. Her second major contribution during these years was the development of a non-invasive method to screen semiconductor lasers with defects (kinks), (patent granted). This patent created a mean to screen semiconductor lasers with a potential to develop deleterious kinks in the Light versus Current characteristics. This was critical for lightwave submarine systems because the high reliabilty required for these systems. This patent was immediately implemented and saved millions of dollars in the manufacturing of transmitters in Microelectronics for lightwave submarine system applications. This patent was highly recognized as one of the most valuable patents from Bell Labs. In 1985 after completing her EE Master degree and as a result of her large contributions to Bell Labs she was promoted to Member of Technical Staff.

Starting in 1986 through 1993, her accomplishments were exceptional. During this period she completed her Physics PhD as well as extensively contributed to the understanding of the reliability and light sensitivity of GaAs Integrated Circuits. She created the first reliability studies of GaAs ICs. D. Spector performed the first comprehensive reliability studies of the laser driver and Preamplifier GaAs ICs manufactured by Microelectronics and used in Lightwave communication. From these studies, she also determined the activation energy and the main failure mechanisms of these ICs. To understand the light sensitivity of HFETs which are the heart of GaAs ICs, she studied Persistent Photoconductivity of AlGaAs/GaAs hetersotructures, working in the department of Horst Stormer (1999 Physics Nobel Prize winner). This work was recognized internationally and the discovery of an alternate pathway for the photoinization of DX centers was published in the well recognized Physical Review Letters.

In 1994, she joined the Next Generation Lightwave Networks organization at AT&T /Lucent Holmdel NJ.Her pioneering of the first Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing System world wide allowed AT&T/Lucent Technologies to revolutionize the optical communication field. For this application, she developed and transferred to manufacturing the 8 channel and the 16 channel Optical Demultiplexer Unit and Optical Multiplexer Unit. She extensively studied the different technologies to fabricate WDM filters and devices, which are crucial in the Fiber Optic Lightwave Communication System. She has developed an extensive expertise and understanding of the different technologies and components for Wavelength Add/Drop applications.

She investigated the WDM Cascade for Add/Drop use in the Optical Line System for the Next Generation of Lightwave Network. As a result of this work, she uncovered the limitations of Array Waveguide Grating cascade systems: multi-path interference and bandwidth narrowing of major importance in the design of Metropolitan Optical Transmission Systems.

She designed and developed a unique Fixed Wavelength Add/Drop, which operates for both 50GHz-channel spacing at OC48 bit rate, and OC192. This is a very important feature offered with the very successful 400G WaveStar System winner of the 1999 Bell Labs Gold Presidential Award. She designed and developed several options of programmable Wavelength Add/Drop for METRO and Long Distance Applications.To develop the Wavelength Add/Drop feature, she successfully created, organized and led a Business-Research Add/Drop team. The summary of this teamwork was published by her in the Jan-April issue of the Bell Labs Technical Journal. During the last two years, she has developed a new type of filter, the Wavelength Splitter, which allows a dense WDM system to be spaced very closely. This device enables new applications of WAD for Metro and Long Distance.

From 1998 to 2000, she has filed four USA patents: First one on the method of eliminating the side lobe effects on the Dragone Router using Thin Film postfiltering(granted). This patent was successfully applied to the R1.0 of WaveStar 400G to reach the required levels of crosstalk in the 80 channel ODU. The second one on a thin-film filter-switch configuration for Wavelength Add/Drop implemented in the R1.0 for AllMetro. The third one on the wavelength Add/Drop arrangement for dense WDM. This patent resulted in the unique WAD implemented in R1.0 of WaveStar 400G. The fourth patent on a special method to Demultiplex Optical signals with different Data Rates using the wavelength splitter and is in the process of being used in WaveStar R4.1. Altogether, these patents are key to multimillion dollar projects. She has recently being promoted to Distinguish Member of Technical Staff in the Optical Networking Group at Lucent Technologies. She was promoted to Technical Manager of the Optical Add/Drop Multiplexer Component Group on December 2000.

She actively participates in the Diversity committee, where she has been one of the main organizers for the very successful ONG diversity training in 1999. She is an active member of Hispa where she had participated in the Community program at Brookdale College, and minority high school job fair in Perth Amboy. She has given a presentation at the Hispa conference for a minority workshop in creative thinking. She promoted the support of her organization to be the Gold sponsor for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers in 1998. She received the Hispanic National Achievement Award in the category of professional Achievement for the year 2000. She was selected as one of the 13 most outstanding women of the millennium from "Glamour Magazine in Spanish". Through her professional and personal life she has been an inspirational role model for minorities specially Women and Hispanics. She received an honorary Doctoral Degree from Bloomfield College, NJ, on May 2001.



 

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