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#FacesofPhotonics: SPIE Britton Chance Award Winner and Professor of Radiology, Samuel Achilefu

Recipient of the 2019 SPIE Britton Chance Award in Biomedical Optics; Professor of Radiology and Biomedical Engineering at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis; 2019 SPIE BiOS Hot Topics keynote speaker: these are just a few of the titles currently held by Dr. Samuel Achilefu.

Achilefu's research is changing the way we think about cancer therapy. Some cancer cells do not respond to traditional treatment, but Achilefu's team has found that if you stimulate those inactive cancer cells with light, they become responsive, providing surgeons with a more accurate path to removing the cancer. "I really believe we will be reaching a solution very soon," Achilefu commented.

To read more about the SPIE Britton Chance Award and Achilefu's research, see the January SPIE Professional article. In the meantime, please enjoy his interview with SPIE's Faces of Photonics!


1. How did you become interested in the optics and photonics field? Was there a person wh…
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#FacesofPhotonics: NASA Intern Elaine Stewart

Meet Elaine Stewart: chemical engineering student, world-traveler, intern at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and this week's SPIE Face of Photonics. Elaine is fascinated by space exploration and how optics impacts our ability to "study distant stars that have never been seen before."

Her research has taken her around the world -- from Bochum, Germany, where she studied material science and engineering at Ruhr-Universität, to Houston, Texas, to work on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) while it was under cryogenic vacuum chamber testing, to Melbourne, Australia, where she studied biochemical and product engineering at the University of Melbourne in 2017. And, when she's not busy traversing the globe, she is focusing on graduating from the University of Delaware in 2019 with a Bachelor's in Chemical Engineering.

Elaine makes a point of remaining an active member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Student Chapter at her university, …

#FacesofPhotonics: Ultrafast Spectroscopy Research Assistant, Hemang Jani

Meet this week's SPIE Faces of Photonics feature, Hemang Jani. Hemang is a graduate research assistant in the Department of Physics at the University of Alabama, Huntsville (UAH). He was born in India and is now working towards a Ph.D. in Optical Science and Engineering.

Most of his time is spent in the Precision Ultrafast Light Sciences (PULS) group, but he is also a dedicated member of the SPIE Student Chapter at his university. In fact, he's the the vice president!

Hemang attended SPIE Photonics West 2018 to present in the Ultrafast Phenomena and Nanophotonics conference. You can read his paper, "Femtosecond pump-probe study of negative electron affinity GaAs/AlGaAs photocathodes", on the SPIE Digital Library.

Enjoy the interview!


1. How did you become interested in the optics and photonics field? Was there a particular person who inspired you?

My interest in optics and photonics has its roots in curiosities conceived during my undergraduate studies in physics. Fu…

#FacesofPhotonics: Optical Engineering & Medical Physics PhD Student, Madison Rilling

Meet Canada-native and this week's SPIE Faces of Photonics feature, Madison Rilling. Madison is pursuing a PhD in Physics at Université Laval, in the Center for Optics, Photonics, and Lasers. She is also a part of the Université Laval’s Cancer Research Center. Both are located in Québec City, Canada.

Madison is enthusiastic about science policy: "I am making my first steps in the world of science policy. I am -- or I try to be -- a strong advocate for next-generation scientists and women and girls in STEM."

When she isn't in the lab, you’ll probably find Madison running, hiking, playing volleyball, or "...enjoying a good book in one hand and a tea in the other."


Enjoy the interview!


1. How did you become interested in the optics and photonics field?

I did more of a theoretical undergraduate in math & physics at McGill University. My very first research internship was in optical engineering and this experience made me realize just how large the scope of …

#Faces of Photonics: Photovoltaics PhD Student, Arfa Karani

Meet this week's SPIE Faces of Photonics feature, Arfa Karani. Arfa is a physics PhD student at the University of Cambridge, studying the physics of solar cells. She is originally from India, but has lived outside her home country for many years while pursuing her education. 

Arfa was also President of the SPIE Student Chapter at the University of Cambridge in 2017-18, and continues to remain involved with the chapter when she's not hard at work in the university's Cavendish Lab.


Enjoy her interview!




1. How did you become interested in the optics and photonics field? Was there a person who inspired you?

My physics teacher at school inspired me. I got interested in studying optics because my curiosity was satisfied by this teacher, who was extremely enthusiastic about what they did. When you ask too many questions as a child, people try to divert your attention once they are tired of answering. Not this teacher.

I know it’s a bit cliché, but I was amazed by how one could cre…

Outreach in Optics: KU Leuven

This is a guest blog written by Michèle Moris and Charlotte Verstraete on behalf of the KU Leuven SPIE/OSA Student Chapter.


Greetings from the KU Leuven SPIE/OSA Student Chapter in Belgium! We’d like to share with you how participating in outreach has shaped our chapter and given us hope for the future. We are fortunate in that our university has organized several annual events to help educate the public, especially children, about science. Last year we were able to contribute to two of these events: Children’s University and Day of Science.

Future-focused Photonics Day At Children’s University, children aged 8 to 13 can walk in the shoes of university students for a day. They attend a scientific seminar, followed by a workshop that simulates lab work. At noon, they have lunch in the cafeteria, and a similar program of lectures and workshops is held in the afternoon. The only difference between this and real university life? No homework!

Several campus groups organized workshops on va…