Lorne Whitehead is the special advisor on innovation, entrepreneurship and research at The University of British Columbia. In this capacity he serves as the convener for two networks of research universities collaborating on applying improvement science to the challenges of leadership in teaching and research.
Whitehead joined University of British Columbia as a full-time faculty member 1994. He is a professor in the department of physics and astronomy, carrying out studies of the optical. electrical, and mechanical properties of micro-structured surfaces, a field in which he holds more than 130 U.S. patents. His technology is used in many computer screens and televisions.
In addition to his research at University of British Columbia, Whitehead has held a number of administrative positions including associate dean, dean pro-tem and vice president of academic and leader of education innovation.
Whitehead’s career has involved sustained innovation in technology, business and administration. His research focuses on the application of novel geometrical approaches to applied physics challenges, with a focus on the interactions of electromagnetic fields with microstructures. In addition to the usual scientific publications, largely in journals such as Applied Opticsand the Journal of the Illuminating Engineering Society, this work has generated a large number of patents and, perhaps most importantly, license agreements with industry that have resulted in a significant amount of commercial activity.
From 1983 to 1993 he served as CEO of TIR Systems, a University of British Columbia spin-off company that he founded and which eventually grew to 200 employees prior to being purchased by Philips in 2007. Whitehead also has helped to start six additional new companies, commercializing technologies that he developed in his University of British Columbia laboratory – Sonigistix, Brightside (purchased by Dolby Laboratories), Boreal Genomics, SunCentral Inc., CLEARink Displays and Elix Wireless Systems.
Whitehead received a Ph.D. in physics from the University of British Columbia.