Research activities

Spencer is investigating structured ultrafast light pulses and their interaction with matter. This includes fundamental aspects of pulse propagation and nonlinear optics in multi-mode waveguides. A specific aspect of his work is the so-coalled space-time couplings where an ultrafast light pulse has non-separable correlations between their space and time properties, and their extension to vector and vortex beams. His work is mostly theoritical at the moment, but is aiming towards experiments in the near future. Tutor for the BA2 project (Fall 2023)

Teaching activities

Tutor for the BA2 project (Fall 2023)


Born in Evansville, Indiana in 1983, Spencer studied engineering physics at the University of Michigan, USA followed by a masters in physics at the University of Texas in 2014. He then moved to Europe and worked on laser-plasma acceleration and THz generation at DESY in Hamburg, Germany under the supervision of Andreas Maier and Franz Kärtner. After achieving his PhD at the University of Hamburg in early 2018, he undertook a PostDoc at the CEA outside of Paris for two years and then 10 months at the VUB in Brussels (with a year break in-between to care for his son). He is now an IF@ULB Fellow at the OPERA-photonics group focusing on the fundamentals and applications of structured ultrafast light


Control of vortex orientation of ultrashort optical pulses using spatial chirp, M. A. Porras and S. W. Jolly, Optics Letters 48, (2023).
Modulated super-Gaussian laser pulse to populate a dark rovibrational state of acetylene, A. Aerts et al., The Journal of Chemical Physics 159, 084303 (2023).
Coupling to multi-mode waveguides with space-time shaped free-space pulses, S. W. Jolly and P. Kockaert, Journal of Optics 25, 054002 (2023).
Ultrashort laser pulses with chromatic astigmatism, S. W. Jolly, Optics Express 31, 10237–10248 (2023).
Updated on November 15, 2023