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09 January 2017

#FacesofPhotonics: Educated

Among the #FacesofPhotonics: Student Leadership
Workshop participants at SPIE Optics + Photonics
Guest blogger: Emily Power is a 2016 graduate in communications from Western Washington University, and most recently social media intern for SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics. She blogged on responses to the SPIE #FacesofPhotonics campaign, to share the stories of SPIE students around the globe. This is the second of four posts.

One of the many perquisites of being a student in the optics and photonics field is being able to pass along knowledge to those who will follow your footsteps in the future. Throughout the #FacesofPhotonics campaign, it became clear that current SPIE students thrive on educating a younger generation while simultaneously working diligently on their own academic careers.

In this post, we feature students who have educated others as well as themselves.

Teboho Bell
Teboho Bell is from the Republic of South Africa, and is involved with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Optics Student Chapter in South Africa. He is currently a researcher for the CSIR in the National Laser Centre. He shares the story of his favorite outreach event:

“I was visiting my hometown during South African National Week; I went to two high schools that are there, gave a public lecture about lasers and optics, and on career paths after high school. Most importantly, I motivated the scholars before their final exams trials.

In addition, Bell notes, “Our student chapter bought about nine textbooks to give to those scholars to share since they do not have study materials. The textbooks we gave as awards for answering questions based on the public lecture that was given.”

Elizabeth Bernhardt and friend
Elizabeth Bernhardt is a doctoral candidate and graduate research assistant in Department of Physics and Astronomy at Washington State University. She studies nonlinear optics, and is very involved with the student chapter at her school. She tells two stories of her involvement with the education of young minds:

“It's the little moments that make life the very best,” Bernhardt said. “Our OSA/SPIE chapter created a laser maze; during the grand unveiling, there was a little kid who was super-afraid of the lasers. He was so worried he was going to die! I asked him if he could help me get to the other side to refill the candy bowl, and we worked together to get through the maze. When he realized the lasers wouldn't hurt him, he kept getting in line to go through the maze again. His mom had to drag him home after an hour or two, and he was crying!

“Another little moment I really liked was when a fifth-grade girl explained polarization to her clueless classmates. We had the kids make polariscopes. When the girl offered her explanation as to why the polarizers behaved the way they did, it was so thorough and so awesome that I took a video. I keep the video on my photo so I can watch it when science is not going well.”

Guillermo Sanchez
Guillermo Sanchez is an SPIE member and PhD student in the Department of Mathematical Physics at the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León. He was involved with the pioneering of outreach events within his chapter, and he shared from is experience:

“I got involved in optics and photonics back in 2010, as a bachelor student with the student chapter at my university. I was involved as an officer. That year I assisted at my first optics and photonics event and fell in love with optics when meeting this awesome community. Our chapter organized the first ‘Optics 4 Kids’ event, with a few experiments. It was the first outreach event of its kind at our university!

“When I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, I continued my studies at my university and started to study optics with a solar illumination project, the first project in non-imaging optics in our facility.”

Kate Clancy
Kate Clancy is a biomedical engineer and biochemist from San Francisco, California, with a master’s degree from McGill University. She was heavily involved in the SPIE Student Chapter at McGill — she helped establish it! Her passion for educating others shines through in her story about the International Year of Light (IYL) event her chapter sponsored:

“At our event, our chapter partnered with the astronomy club to do long exposure photography of the stars, and also with sparklers while teaching about different light phenomena. It was a great moment to see students and the general public coming together and sharing their knowledge and ideas all the while having a good time playing with lights, cameras, and lasers and enjoying free snacks. We got some amazing photos from it and lots of good memories!”

For full stories, follow @SPIEphotonics on Instagram or check out the SPIE Students Facebook page and look for the #FacesofPhotonics tag.

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