Published: Feb. 14, 2024

Antonio M. Caravaca Aguirre
Antonio M. Caravaca Aguirre, 2024 Recent Alumni Award recipient

Engineering Alumni Awards

2024 Recent Alumni Award recipient

Antonio M. Caravaca Aguirre (MElEngr’13; PhD’16) is a distinguished leader in the field of optical wavefront shaping. He serves as vice president of engineering at Modendo, a pioneering startup dedicated to developing cutting-edge ultrathin endomicroscopes that provide high-resolution optical imaging and photostimulation in currently inaccessible regions of the body.

Caravaca Aguirre’s roots trace back to Guadalajara, Spain, where he spent his formative years. He embarked on his academic journey by completing his undergraduate studies in physics at the University Complutense de Madrid in 2009. With the support of a prestigious Fundación Ibercaja fellowship, he crossed the Atlantic to Boulder, Colorado, where he earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering (2013), followed by a PhD in electrical engineering in 2016. During his doctoral studies, Caravaca Aguirre focused on developing innovative computational imaging techniques for imaging in complex media for biomedical applications. His research spanned a wide range of cutting-edge technologies, including wavefront shaping and photoacoustic imaging. He also led initial research efforts using multimode optical fibers for endoscopy, including the first in-vivo experiments, positioning him as a trailblazer in the field.

After completing his PhD, Caravaca Aguirre was awarded the prestigious Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship from the European Commission to continue his research at the Université Grenoble Alpes, France. This fellowship allowed him to pursue his research in ultrathin endoscopy while collaborating with leading experts in the field and expanding his global network. Notably, Caravaca Aguirre's excellence in research was highlighted at the 2019 Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting dedicated to physics, where he had the privilege of sharing his findings with 39 Nobel Laureates and over 500 international young scientists from 89 countries.

Upon returning to the United States, Caravaca Aguirre took on a pivotal role as a principal investigator (PI) for several high-profile research projects. He successfully secured funding through the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 programs, as well as an Advanced Industry Award from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, totaling more than $1.25 million. This significant funding reflects his exceptional skills in proposal writing and project management, as well as his commitment to translating innovative research into practical applications.

Throughout this time, Caravaca Aguirre has maintained a tight connection with the CU community, helping advance the commercialization of a disruptive CU technology through the launch of Modendo, a startup company, based on the work he had done at CU Boulder. He continues to collaborate with ongoing research at CU and participates in activities organized by Venture Partners, such as workshops and a SBIR panel. Beyond CU, Caravaca Aguirre is a reviewer for the top optics journal, and he has a strong interest in helping others, as demonstrated by his participation in outreach activities presenting optics experiments to high school students visiting CU and across the Front Range. 

Today, as the vice president of engineering at Modendo, Caravaca Aguirre continues to push the boundaries of biomedical technology harnessing light propagation inside ultrathin fibers to unravel the next endomicroscopes generation. This mission, deeply rooted in the groundbreaking research from his PhD studies, envisions a future in which healthcare professionals wield state-of-the-art tools to diagnose and treat neurological conditions with unparalleled precision.