James Breckinridge


Collaborating Faculty



Autonomous self-assembling of large space telescopes for JWST follow-on, the effects of uncorrected polarization aberrations on exoplanet coronagraphy and precision polarimetry of exoplanet atmospheres, surfaces and dust rings are Dr. Breckinridge’s current research interests.

Dr Breckinridge earned his BSc degree in Physics from Case Institute of Technology, Cleveland, OH in 1961 and his MSc and PhD in Optics at the University of Arizona, Tucson AZ. His dissertation was the development of the rotational shear spatial interferometer with applications to problems in the astronomical sciences. At JPL he was the instrument scientist for the ATMOS and the founding manager of the JPL Optics Section, which is responsible for the design, construction, and testing of most of the space-flight optical systems built by JPL. In 1994 Dr. Breckinridge became the JPL program manager for Innovative Optical Systems. In 1999 he accepted an assignment to the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Washington DC to manage the Advanced Technologies and Instruments program for the Astronomical Sciences Division. He returned to JPL in 2003 to become the chief technologist for the NASA exo-planet program. In Jan 2010 he retired from JPL after 33 years of service.

Dr. Breckinridge taught the Optical Engineering class in the CALTECH Applied Physics and Aeronautics departments from 1983 to current. In 2003 he was the recipient of the George W. Goddard award of the SPIE. Dr. Breckinridge has over 95 publications in astronomy, physical optics, spectroscopy, and image science. Dr. Breckinridge currently holds an academic appointment at CALTECH as a visiting associate in Aeronautics and is an Adjunct Professor of Optics at the College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona, Tucson. He is a consultant in space optics systems and technology.


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