Founders, Leadership Team, and Board of Directors

Henry C. Kapteyn, Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Henry C. Kapteyn is co-founder of KMLabs Inc. and CEO. Henry is well-established as a leading researcher in the area of ultrafast optical science, and is Professor of Physics and a fellow of JILA, a joint NIST/University institute at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He received a BS from Harvey Mudd College in 1982, an MS from Princeton University in 1984, and a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1989. He and his wife and long-term collaborator, Margaret Murnane, are well known for their research in femtosecond lasers, and for understanding how to coherently upconvert this light to make a “tabletop x-ray laser” that they have applied to pioneering studies of material behavior at short length- and time-scales. He has published more than 200 papers (h-index 59), and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the Optical Society of America, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His awards include the Adolph Lomb Medal of the OSA in 1993, the Ahmed Zewail Award of the ACS in 2009, the R.W. Wood Prize of the OSA in 2010, the Arthur Schawlow Prize of the APS in 2010, the Willis Lamb Award in Quantum Electronics in 2012, and membership in the National Academy of Sciences.

Margaret M. Murnane, Founder and Chair of the Board

Margaret M. Murnane is co-founder of KMLabs Inc. and Chair of the Board. Margaret is one of the most-prominent practicing physical scientists in the US today. She is Distinguished Professor of Physics and ECE, and a fellow of JILA, a joint NIST/University institute at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She received BS and MS degrees in physics from University College Cork, Ireland, and a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1989. She and Henry are well known for their research in ultrafast science. Her research has won her numerous accolades, including the APS Simon Ramo Award in 1990, the Maria Goeppert Mayer Award in 1997, a MacArthur Foundation “genius” fellow grant in 2000, election to the National Academy of Sciences in 2004, and the Boyle Medal— Ireland’s highest scientific honor— in 2011. She has done extensive service on behalf of US science, currently as the Chair of President Obama’s Committee for the National Medal of Science.

Sterling J. Backus, Chief Scientist

Dr. Sterling Backus is well known as a pioneering developer of new ultrafast laser technologies. He has been full-time with KMLabs since 2002, as well being as an Adjunct Professor in the ECE Department at Colorado State University. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees, in Physics and a PhD in Engineering Science from Washington State University in 1996. His work in the development of high peak-and-average power ultrafast Ti:sapphire lasers, and the use of cryogenic cooling for ultrafast laser systems, forms the basis for many of KMLabs' products. Sterling is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America, a U.S. Army veteran, and has served on program committees for numerous conferences in the field.

Susan Nylen, Vice President of Finance and HR

Susan Nylen Joined KM Labs in 2012 and is an accomplished finance and accounting leader. Her past experience has included public accounting, financial and operational consulting and direct company experience in the medical technology, software and consumer products industries. She combines her finance and accounting experience with positions held in management reporting, international treasury, ERP system implementation, and business operations in companies ranging from emerging start ups to fortune 500 organizations. Susan received a BA in economics from the University of Massachusetts, her CPA credentials while working with Ernst & Young and her Executive MBA degree from Daniels College of Business at Denver University.


Charley Haggans, Chief Operating Officer

Dr. Charles Haggans joined KMLabs in 2015.  He has extensive experience leading and managing the development of laser system, communications, and remote sensing products and technologies. He received an MS in Optics from the University of Rochester in 1988 and a Ph.D. in Optical Sciences from the University of Arizona in 1992.  His industrial experience includes positions at Lockheed Martin, Directed Energy Solutions, CIENA Corporation, and 3M.  He is a senior member of the Optical Society of America and holds 12 patents in the areas of optical communications, fiber optics, and laser systems.



Laura Oliphant, Board Observer, Intel Capital

Laura Oliphant is an Investment Manager in Intel Capital, where she makes and manages investments in the semiconductor capital equipment and materials areas.  She joined Intel in 1991 and Intel Capital in 2001.  In 2006, Laura was given the Intel Achievement Award for the strategic impact of her investing activities.  Prior to joining Intel Capital, Laura was one of the key coordinators for Intel's transition to the 300 mm wafer size.  As part of this project, Laura managed the selection activities for about 20% of the fab tools.  In 2000, Laura served as the industry co-chair for the SEMATECH Metrology and Yield Management Tools Program Advisory Group.  During her time at Intel, Laura has also been a process engineer, developing a process that is still used in Intel’s processors, and a yield engineer.  Laura holds a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley.


Ryan Kirkpatrick, Board Member, Colorado Impact Fund

Ryan Kirkpatrick joined KM Labs as a Director in 2016.  Ryan is a Partner at the Colorado Impact Fund, a Denver-based venture capital firm that invests in Colorado companies that have a positive impact on the community.  With over 12 years of experience investing in growth-oriented companies in both the private and public markets, Ryan has led investments in the healthcare, natural foods, education technology, and photonics industry.  Prior to joining Colorado Impact Fund, Ryan was a principal at Ferrer Freeman & Company, a leading healthcare private equity firm focused on growth capital investing in the lower middle market. A Colorado native, Ryan holds a B.A. in molecular biology from Princeton University and an M.B.A. from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Along with his wife and daughter, he spends his free time hiking, biking, fishing and skiing in the Rocky Mountains.



Merc Mercure, Board Member

After graduating from the University of Colorado with a Ph.D. in physics in 1957, Dr. R.C. Mercure helped start Ball Brothers Research Corporation, which later became Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation. Successful photonics companies who owe their existence in large part to Dr. Mercure include CDM Optics and Ascentia Imaging. In 1980, he helped found Colorado Venture Management, Inc. In 1988, he returned to the University of Colorado to serve in a number of high-level positions, including: Director, Master of Engineering in Engineering Management Program; Managing Director, Optoelectronic Computing Systems Center; and Professor Adjunct, Engineering Management. Dr. Mercure sits on the Board of Directors of several private companies, is a director for the Innovation Center of the Rockies and a Member of the American Institute of Physics’ History Center’s Advisory Committee. He has served as Past President of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research Foundation. His civic activities include serving as a Boulder City Councilman, a member of the Boulder City Planning Board, and as co-chairman of the Boulder Housing Authority. 

Ted Weverka, Board Observer

Ted Weverka is a part-time licensing manager specializing in engineering and physical sciences at CU's Boulder and Colorado Springs campuses. Ted was previously founder and CTO of Network Photonics, where he raised $117M in venture capital to develop his MEMS-based wavelength switching invention. As CTO, he guided the technology strategy and managed the Network Photonics patent portfolio. Before founding Network Photonics, Ted was involved in a number of startup companies. He was on the founding team of ONI Systems, a Metro-area DWDM communications company that went public in 2000. Ted helped set the initial direction for DataPlay and served on its advisory board. Ted also founded Optoelectronic Data Systems, which developed optical memory, liquid crystal on Silicon and acousto-optic-systems technology under government grants. Ted Weverka earned a B.S. in Applied Physics from Caltech and a Ph.D in Electrical Engineering from the University of Colorado. He has authored dozens of publications and patents.;