Published: March 7, 2024 By

Jennifer Turner-Valle with her dog TikaFive students in the Quantum Scholars program have been awarded a scholarship in honor of Jennifer Turner-Valle, an alumna of CU Boulder Physics. The named scholarships are a tribute to Dr. Turner-Valle who passed away in 2023.  

Jennifer Turner-Valle earned a bachelor of science degree in engineering physics in 1992. During her studies at CU Boulder, she developed a particular interest in optics. Beyond her passion for academics, she was an active member of the marching band, participated in the Society of Physics Students, played on a club ice hockey team, and loved exploring the outdoors.

Dr. Turner-Valle earned her PhD in physics from the University of Arizona, where she studied thin-film optics. Her career path spanned work on space instrumentation as an optical engineer to an aerospace business program manager and strategic development consultant. She was also an Associate Professor at the University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences before co-founding and serving as president of Optical Engineering Associates, LLC. 

She had an astonishing and wide-ranging career. Her widower, Dr. Tim Valle, said “Jennifer was a remarkable role-model for anyone entering technical fields. She was an extraordinary and powerful strategic thinker.”

A proud member of several professional societies including the Optical Society of America, SPIE, and the American Geophysical Union, Dr. Turner-Valle made valued contributions to support future leaders in the field. “Jennifer always emphasized the importance of mentoring and supporting the next generation of scientists and engineers,” said Dr. Valle. “The Jennifer Turner-Valle scholarships honor her long-standing dedication to helping others succeed.” 

In supporting the Quantum Scholars program, the Jennifer Turner-Valle scholarships provide students the opportunity to engage in and learn about the quantum industry. Honoring Dr. Turner-Valle’s legacy, these scholarships are an inspiration to the students receiving them.

Eva Temelkova, a third-year physics major, recognizes the impact of the Jennifer Turner-Valle scholarship through the support it provides to her. “As a member of the Quantum Scholars program, I feel incredibly supported in my academic journey as well as my journey in exploring physics outside of the classroom,” said Temelkova.

Jennifer Turner-ValleLearning about quantum, exploring opportunities, and making connections have been a highlight according to Mariana Vadas-Arendt, a Jennifer Turner-Valle scholarship recipient and second-year computer science major. She said, “I have interacted with professors and companies that I didn’t believe I had the chance to talk to, but Quantum Scholars made that possible. I now have connections with people and companies that inspire me.”

Justin Loring, a third-year physics major, is appreciative for the support this scholarship provides, and he credits the Quantum Scholars program for growing his interest in quantum technology. “I will continue studying applications of quantum in my graduate program with an eye on advancing our ability to leverage quantum tools to solve practical issues,” said Loring.

“We’re so honored to have scholarships named after Jennifer Turner-Valle, a distinguished alumna of our program.” said Tobin Munsat, professor and chair of physics. “She left an indelible legacy and we’re inspired by her commitment to improving inclusion and access for students in science and engineering.”

The Jennifer Turner-Valle Scholarships will initially be used to support students in the Quantum Scholars program with up to five students per year receiving the named scholarships.