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#FacesofPhotonics: Rising Researcher Alina Zare

SPIE's #FacesofPhotonics is sharing the story of Alina Zare, Associate Professor at the The Machine Learning and Sensing Lab at the University of Florida. Dr. Zare was recognized as a 2018 Rising Researcher for her work in Electronic Imaging & Signal Processing, at the SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing conference.

This program recognizes early career professionals who conduct outstanding research in the defense, commercial, and scientific sensing, imaging, optics, or related fields. If you want to learn more about the program, the details are here.

Enjoy the interview with Alina!

1. Tell us about when you first became interested in optics and photonics. In my senior year of  undergraduate studies in computer science, I was taking an Image Processing elective.  I really enjoyed the course, and the professor for the class, Dr. Gerhard Ritter, encouraged me to do some undergraduate research.  
So I joined Dr. Paul Gader's research lab as a undergraduate researcher where I he…
Recent posts

Making Her SMART Marks

Winning the inaugural $75,000 SPIE-Franz Hillenkamp Postdoctoral Fellowship in Problem-Driven Biophotonics and Biomedical Optics has had its fair share of notable impact on Haley Marks' life and profession. The fellowship, which supports and provides opportunities for translating new technologies to clinical practice for improving human health was awarded for the first time in January 2018 at SPIE Photonics West.

"I actually found out that I won in December, just as I was getting ready to fly home for the holidays," she recalls. "I was packing when I got a call from Rox Anderson, the director of our center, the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, congratulating me, and I got all flustered. I swung by the lab on the way to the airport to celebrate the news with my mentor, Dr. Conor Evans, and our colleagues, and ended up missing my plane!"

The missed flight has been more than worth it for Marks, who has been at the Wellman Center since February 2017, working with…

Lighting Their Way

It's a feast for the science-curious senses: in June, two cohorts of two dozen middle-school girls came together for the free, STEM-focused, four-day-long Physics Wonder Girls Camp sessions organized by Dr. Roberto Ramos, associate professor of physics at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.

The girls studied the properties of light, built telescopes, designed and engineered submersible robots, and learned about scientific professions directly from the experts: nanoscientist and Chair of Bryn Mawr College's Physics Department Dr. Xuemei Cheng; INTEL software engineer Dr. Marisa Bauza-Roman; and several female food scientists from Puratos, a global company working with bakers and chocolatiers to assess the best ways to improve their products, all came and talked about their professions, answering questions and interacting with the campers. Plus, they got to be on TV!

The camp was initially inspired by Dr. Ramos' daughter Kristiana who expressed interest in the s…

#FacesofPhotonics: PhD Student at the University of Arizona, Shelbi Jenkins

SPIE's #FacesofPhotonics is sharing the story of Alaska-born Shelbi Jenkins, a PhD student studying at the University of Arizona's College of Optical Sciences.

In the interview, Shelbi shares what she's working on in Bob Norwood's Magneto-Optics Lab at U of A, her most memorable outreach moment, and this adorable photo of her cat, Beans!

1. Tell us about when you first became interested in optics and photonics. As a part of my physics undergrad, I worked on a research project that looked at the industrial applications of ultra-fast laser ablation. That was when I was first exposed [to the field], and I decided that I wanted to learn more about optics and how it could be used. So, I decided to go to grad school and to study it!

I am happy with my decision -- to me, photonics research feels like a nice balance between pure physics research and engineering. That is a nice perk considering I was never able to decide which I liked better, physics or engineering, prior to s…

"Be prepared," Indeed!

Cybersecurity. Space exploration. Robotics. Mechanical engineering. Environmental advocacy. These are just a few of the STEM-related areas covered by 30 new Girl Scout badges that reflect freshly-implemented programs for girls 5-18.

Girls in kindergarten through fifth grade, for example, through a collaboration with NASA’s Science Mission Directorate led by the SETI Institute, now have a window into the wonderful worlds of outer space and astronomy. Fourth and fifth grade girls can earn mechanical engineering badges through hands-on work as they design paddle boats, cranes, and balloon-powered cars, learning about jet propulsion, buoyancy, and potential and kinetic energy in the process. New programming for girls in grades 6-12 includes learning to design, program, and showcase robots, while the Raytheon-funded “Think Like a Programmer” track offers foundational lessons in computational thinking, and “Think Like an Engineer” focuses on how engineers solve problems. On a more nature-a…

#FacesofPhotonics: Rising star Christopher Han

SPIE’s #FacesofPhotonics social media campaign connects SPIE members in the global optics, photonics, and STEM communities. It serves to highlight similarities, celebrate differences, and foster a space where conversation and community can thrive.

This week on #FacesofPhotonics we are sharing the story of Christopher Han, a junior at Suzhou Singapore International School in China. Last year he presented his first academic paper at SPIE Optical Metrology in Munich. What an achievement! Check out his paper on the SPIE Digital Library.

We hope you enjoy his story.


Getting started
In June 2016, I started an internship at a local optics company for a summer project where I would help to design an application. I worked with Master's students to program an app using C++, an app that could calculate the optimum transmission sphere when the data of a test surface was provided. The students were also having discussions regarding being innovative and doing research so that they could publish pa…

#FacesofPhotonics: Virtual Reality Game Programmer, Nathan Rasmussen

SPIE’s #FacesofPhotonics social media campaign connects SPIE members in the global optics, photonics, and STEM communities. It serves to highlight similarities, celebrate differences, and foster a space where conversation and community can thrive.

This week on #FacesofPhotonics we are sharing the story of Nathan Rasmussen from Arcata, California. Nathan was part of the SPIE Student Chapter at Washington State University (WSU) and is now a physics and 3D math consultant, programmer, and game designer for Martian Games, a small company that focuses on multiplayer games and virtual reality (VR).

He is also working on interactions and optimization for VR. Looking forward, he says, one day he hopes “to develop games and experiences for STEM classes in order to teach abstract concepts.”

We hope you enjoy his interview.

1. Tell us about when you first became interested in optics and photonics. As a child, I was always fascinated with light. I had a magnifying glass with which I used to burn…