Michele Ruggiero Banish
Chief Executive Officer
CEO and Co-Founder of Polaris Sensor Technologies, Ms. Banish formed the company as a Principal Investigator of Small Business Innovation Research contracts focused on artificial intelligence. She located Polaris inside an incubator program at the University of Alabama. She developed accounting and contracting systems that won the approval of the Defense Contracting and Auditing Agency. After incubating one year, she relocated Polaris to a facility in downtown Huntsville with large laboratory spaces and an outdoor test platform to facilitate collection of sky polarization signatures and other experiments. She has developed software, hardware and optical systems to support research. Under her direction, Polaris has an established and growing patent portfolio and is licensing technology to market leaders. Two spinoff subsidiaries, Knowflame and Knowmore, have been formed around novel products. Prior to founding Polaris, Ms. Banish worked at a number of research firms and founded another company, MEMSOPTICAL, that was funded by Venture Capital and eventually sold to a multinational company. Ms. Banish received her B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1987 with a minor in Engineering Management. She received her M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville in 1994. She has a specialty in Applied Optics.
Dr. David Chenault
Dr. Chenault leads a team of 20 scientists and engineers in developing advanced sensors, algorithms, and optical instrumentation for military and commercial customers. Under his leadership, Polaris has a long history in developing optical systems in the visible to the long wave infrared optical bands that exploit the polarization properties of light. As a result of his contributions to this technology, Chenault was selected to be a Fellow of the Society of Photo Instrumentation Engineers(SPIE) and has been Chair or Co-Chair of twelve SPIE conferences in Polarization, and has co-authored special sections on Polarization in Applied Optics and Optical Engineering. Chenault received his B.S. in physics from Vanderbilt University in 1986, his M.S. in physics from the University of Alabama in Huntsville in 1989 and completed his Ph.D. in physics at the University of Alabama in Huntsville in 1992.
Dr. Larry Pezzaniti
Chief Technology Officer
Dr Pezzaniti initiates, directs, and manages a large portion of Polaris’ new technology development. He is a subject matter expert in polarization imaging, micro and macro optical system development, and physical aerodynamic optical effects. His breadth of knowledge includes not only optical disciplines, but also mechanical, electrical, electronic, processing, and analytical specialties that directly lead to the success and customer satisfaction of Polaris R&D and product development efforts. While he routinely develops novel and innovative optical system concepts, lens designs, components, integrated assemblies, he is able to manage and lead multidiscipline teams to implement and complete projects. Dr. Pezzaniti has over 75 journal publications and holds 23 patents and is a collaborative member of research teams at leading universities as well as Army, Air Force and Navy Research Laboratories. Dr. Pezzaniti graduated from the University of Florida and in 1993 completed his Ph.D .at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) under renowned polarization expert Dr. Russell Chipman.
Director of Engineering
Mr. Harchanko has over 25 years of leadership, management, and engineering/research experience in designing and developing optical systems across the UV, visible, SWIR, MWIR, and LWIR wavebands. He is a subject matter expert in optical systems for space, counter-IED for the dismounted soldier, and disturbed earth detection using optical sensors. In addition to new business development and managing multiple ongoing contracts, he also performs an extensive amount of algorithm development using conventional and neural network approaches. His forte is optical systems engineering to achieve the optimal balance of sensor hardware and algorithms in order to maximize system performance. The application of these skills launched KnowFlame, a spinoff subsidiary. He is the primary or sole inventor of 7 patents and received his B.S. of Optical Science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville in 1992.