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#FacesofPhotonics: Optimax Director of Technology and Strategy, Jessica DeGroote Nelson

SPIE Senior Member Jessica DeGroote Nelson works as the director of technology and strategy at Optimax Systems in Ontario, New York. She also teaches as an adjunct assistant professor at The Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester (UR), and is a Conference Chair for SPIE Optifab 2019. 
This year at SPIE Optics + Photonics in San Diego, Nelson will be teaching Optical Materials, Fabrication, and Testing for the Optical Engineer. This course is geared toward optical engineers who are hoping to learn the basics about how optics are made, and ways in which to help reduce the cost of the optics they are designing. 
"Optical tolerancing and the cost to fabricate an optic can be a point of tension or confusion between optical designers and optical fabricators," Nelson says. "I teach this course to help give optical designers who are new to the field a few tools in their toolbelt as they navigate tolerancing and purchasing some of their first designs. One of the thi…
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A Partnership Forged in Light: SPIE and IDL Illuminate Optics and Photonics

Optical fiber networks, the inner workings of smartphones, light painting, and Laser Pink Floyd: there are myriad ways in which light impacts our lives, and on 16 May, UNESCO’s second International Day of Light (IDL) will celebrate them all. This year’s flagship event in Trieste will showcase just some of the areas – science, sustainable development, health, art, and communications – in which light creates and enables critical benefits.

The overall program, Illuminating Education, will include a presentation by University of Auckland’s Cather Simpson (“Using Physics to Feed the Planet”); the National Optical Astronomy Observatory’s Stephen Pompea showcasing the fruits of public engagement within his field; and Imperial College London’s Jess Wade describing her next-generation, OLED research as well as her efforts to address gender imbalance in science.

“The International Day of Light is an awesome opportunity to celebrate the science of light and scientists who work with optics and p…

International Day of Light in Action: University of Southampton and Stellenbosch University

As we have heard from countless members of the optics and photonics community, raising awareness of optics among the public and sparking interest in students at a young age are crucial to the future of light-based technology.

Each year, SPIE provides International Day of Light (IDL) Micro Grants to SPIE Members who want to celebrate the importance of light and share that knowledge with their community. These activities must take place during the month of May, tying directly to the cross-global festivities held on the 16th of that month. You can learn more about our Micro Grant program here.

With less than two weeks until the 2019 IDL, we are revisiting some of the 2018 IDL SPIE Micro Grant winners from around the world, showcasing their celebrations of light and its impact. The University of Southampton in England and Stellenbosch University in South Africa both took the approach of "good things come in threes!" for their Micro Grant activities. Read on to see what they accom…

#FacesofPhotonics: Applied Optics Master's Student Christiane Ebongue

Bonjour! Meet Christiane Ebongue, graduate student at Delaware State University (DSU). Christiane is working on a master's degree in applied optics with a goal of achieving a PhD in Physics. When she is not spending time in the lab —something she says she loves so much, she would even want to be there on her birthday! — she enjoys her role as president of her university's SPIE Student Chapter.

Ebongue moved to the United States from Cameroon for college, although she only spoke French at the time. Learning to speak a new language while learning a new field of science was intimidating, she says, but this feat just speaks to how tenacious of a person Ebongue is.

Another example of this steadfast dedication and passion lies in her photonics advocacy work. After defending her thesis in the morning, Ebongue hopped in her car and drove from Delaware to Washington D.C., to participate in Congressional Visits Day, without missing a beat!

"It was awesome, I don't regret it at …

Why Light? SPIE Fellow David Sampson answers

David Sampson is a Fellow Member of SPIE, on the Board of Directors, and Vice-Provost of Research and Innovation at the University of Surrey. He is also the next community member to answer our 'Why Light?' series. The series is leading up to the second annual International Day of Light this 16 May, and asks members of the SPIE community to explain why they feel light is so important.

David has nearly thirty years’ research experience in photonics, optics, and microscopy, and applications in communications and biomedicine. He is an authority in optical coherence tomography, with several main interests including the microscope-in-a-needle. As a Board Member he serves on several committees for SPIE, including the Strategic Planning Committee and the Conference Program Committee, and regularly contributes to SPIE's conferences and journals. He took time out of his very busy schedule to answer for us what light means to him and to the greater global community.

What about light i…

#FacesofPhotonics: Biomedical Engineering PhD Student Christopher Pacia

Why haven't we found a cure for cancer yet? This is the question that motivates Christopher Pacia when he's doing research in the Chen Ultrasound Lab at Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL). Pacia is a PhD student in biomedical engineering, and his research focuses on ultrasound imaging and therapy that can impact cancer patient care. "With a greater understanding of the brain, treatments can be more patient-specific," says Pacia. "In that way, they will also be more effective in improving the lives of those affected by the seemingly boundless complexity of neurological disorders."

Pacia is the current Vice President of the SPIE Student Chapter at his university, under the supervision of 2019 SPIE Britton Chance Award winner, Dr. Samuel Achilefu. The chapter is involved in a variety of local outreach activities which, according to Pacia, is one of the most rewarding parts of being a researcher.

Enjoy SPIE's Faces of Photonics interview with Chris!


#FacesofPhotonics: CEO of Datalytica Dr. Misty Blowers

From the US Air Force Research Lab to Vice President of Cybersecurity at ICF to CEO of her own defense consulting company, SPIE Member Dr. Misty Blowers continues to make waves in the defense security world. She has always been unwavering in her dedication to this community, citing her drive toward positive change: "I hope to make a technical contribution that can make the world a better place."

Many would say she's already accomplished this. In 2018, Dr. Blowers was awarded the SPIE Early Career Achievement Award for her dedication to advancing applied machine-learning solutions to help solve real-world problems. Her commitment to the field also shines through in her multiple years serving on SPIE conference committees at SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing (DCS), and her 2016 publication of Evolution of Cyber Operations and Technologies to 2035 (Springer) which she discusses in the interview below.

Enjoy the interview!

1. Describe a memorable moment from an SPIE conferen…