Peaceful 09

Armand Tanguay Jr.

November 15, 1949 ~ February 25, 2024 (age 74) 74 Years Old

Armand Tanguay Jr. Obituary


Armand Rene Tanguay, Jr. was born on November 15th, 1949, in Northampton, Massachusetts to Armand Rene Tanguay and Catherine Kirby Tanguay.  He attended La Salle High School in Pasadena, California and subsequently enrolled at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).  He received a B.S. degree in Physics (Cum Laude) from Caltech in 1971, and M.S., M.Phil., and Ph.D. degrees in Engineering and Applied Science from Yale University in 1972, 1975, and 1977, respectively.  He joined the faculty of the University of Southern California (USC) in 1977 in the School of Engineering, and became a Professor of Electrical Engineering, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, Biomedical Engineering, Ophthalmology, Physics and Astronomy, and the Neuroscience Graduate Program.

Armand was an exceptional orator, ingenious scientist, and passionate educator.  As a professor he was a visionary scientist who innovated new directions, devices, and theories in the fields of photonics and applied physics, and was leader in shaping the electrical engineering department at USC.  He was known for his creative insights, collaborative mentality, and striking interdisciplinarity.  A key indication of his interdisciplinary spirit and constantly curious mind was that he held appointments in six departments and programs at USC, a remarkable and unusual breadth of expertise.  Beyond his work in optics and applied physics, he was also fascinated by the complexity of the brain, and the development of visual and auditory illusions.  Through this work, he held a Visiting Associate position in Biology and Biological Engineering at Caltech, where he collaborated on the application of novel illusions to the study of low vision.

Armand’s brilliance was only equaled by his kindness and giving spirit.  While a distinguished professor, he mentored many doctoral students at USC in addition to countless undergraduate and post-graduate trainees.  Armand continued to advise his students even after they left USC and advanced their careers as students or faculty at other academic institutions, or as research scientists in industry.  His generosity in sharing his time and expertise with colleagues and students was his joy and his strength.  Armand was a distinguished fellow of the Center for Excellence in Teaching at USC, and was especially interested in teaching students the art of giving an excellent scientific presentation.  He required the students in his graduate optics class to present short research projects, and provided vigorous and detailed feedback to hone their skills.  In the classroom, he taught critical thinking through creative problem designs and lab experiment formulations that forced students to evaluate the necessity of the information provided and applicability of the equipment they used.  His goal was for his students to be aware of all experimental assumptions and to critically evaluate results relative to these prior conditions.  In part because of this dedicated mentorship and his novel teaching techniques, his trainees have become professors at universities around the world, and innovators in multiple medical and engineering industries. 

Armand enjoyed playing the guitar and would often play for family and friends on his beloved Martin guitar.  He started playing guitar in college at Caltech, and would continue to find joy in playing modern and classical music for the rest of his life.  Armand was also a certified private pilot and enjoyed flying across Southern California in small aircraft with students, colleagues, and friends.  The freedom, sights, and nuances of flight delighted Armand, and he would often tell stories of meeting fighter pilots, flying as an observer in the cockpit of a large commercial jet, and landing on an aircraft carrier in a flight simulator.  In addition, Armand was a devout Catholic, and even considered joining the priesthood as a child.  Throughout his life, his faith was an unshakable pillar of guidance and support for him.  In part, his deep generosity, kindness, and selflessness sprung from his faith in the eternal.

In 1983, Armand married Paula Chu, and then in 1989 they had a daughter, Christine Fong (nee Tanguay).  As a dedicated father, he coached her basketball team and mentored her on a science fair project that won first place at the California State Science Fair.  Christine graduated from the USC School of Architecture and is now a successful architect.

In 2017, Armand married his collaborator, colleague, and fellow vision scientist, Dr. Noelle R. B. Stiles, in Lake Louise, Canada.  Armand and Noelle connected through their common interest in and passion for creative projects, experimental discovery, star gazing, philosophy, and scientific history.  They enjoyed traveling in Europe for conferences and vacations, and together visited France, Switzerland, Germany, and Italy.  Armand and Noelle also shared their Christian faith, and attended Our Lady Queen of Angels (OLQA) Catholic Church in Newport Beach.  They participated in the prayer vigil program at OLQA for many years.

Armand passed away on February 25, 2024, surrounded by his loving family. 

A memorial service and reception will be held for Armand Tanguay on April 20th, 2024.  For further information please contact Noelle Stiles at

Positions, Awards, and Honors

Among his accomplishments at USC, he was a founding member of the Center for Photonic Technology, serving as both Deputy Director and Director, and was a founding member of the Integrated Media Systems Center, a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center in multimedia and creative technologies. He was also a founding member of the Biomimetic MicroElectronics Systems Center, a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center in neural prosthetic devices. He further served as Director of the Center for Neural Engineering, Associate Director for Research of the Signal and Image Processing Institute, and was a member of the Neuroscience Research Institute, the Neuroscience Graduate Program, and the Center for Vision Science and Technology.

Professor Tanguay was also a Fellow of both the Optical Society of America (OSA or Optica) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and was a recipient of the Yale University Harding Bliss Prize, the USC Faculty Service Award, and the Rudolph Kingslake Medal and Prize of the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). As a member of an interdisciplinary team of scientists, engineers, and physicians, he was a recipient of a Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award for the development of intraocular retinal prostheses for the blind.

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Memorial Service
April 20, 2024

10:30 AM
Armand Tanguay
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