Azzam is distinguished professor of electrical engineering, University of New Orleans (UNO). After receiving his BSc (Cairo University, 1967) and PhD (University of Nebraska, 1971), he held postdoctoral and faculty positions at the University of Nebraska until 1979 when he joined UNO. He was Fulbright scholar and visiting professor at Université de Provence, France, and professor of physics at the American University in Cairo. He served as topical editor for the Journal of the Optical Society of America (OSA) and Applied Optics, and as member of the OSA Publications Council. His honours include: 2005 GG Stokes Award of SPIE, International Society for Optical Engineering; 1993 Photonics Circle of Excellence Award; 1993 R and D Award; 1988 Outstanding American Inventor; 1985 Fulbright Scholar (France); and fellow of the Optical Society of America and SPIE.