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#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 …
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#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…

International Day of Light: SPIE Now Welcoming Micro Grant Applications

On 16 May, the second International Day of Light (IDL) will celebrate the importance of light and light-based technologies to individuals and communities around the world. SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, supports IDL in part by offering Micro Grants towards SPIE Member activities that showcase and share the role that light plays in our lives. We are currently welcoming applications for 2019 IDL Micro Grants, with an application deadline of 15 December.

Last year, SPIE supported activities across the globe, from Cote D’Ivoire, Argentina, the US and India, to Thailand, Italy, the UK, and South Africa. Programs engaged students of all ages, professors, volunteers, and industry professionals, resulting in exciting, impactful events.

The Université Laval SPIE Student Chapter in Quebec City built an interactive, informative, light-phenomena-sharing platform, La Terrasse Optique, in front of the Quebec Parliament, making their venture an educational, scientific, an…

From Outreach Work to Child Care, SPIE Grants Offer Opportunity

SPIE Women in Optics program has been enhancing and promoting the personal and professional growth of women in STEM since 1998. With its proactive focus on diversity, inclusivity, gender equity, SPIE leverages its extensive networks as well as its funding programs to support professionals and students alike. Two Society grant programs, currently open for application, offer critical opportunities to SPIE Members, their communities, and their families.

The SPIE Women in Optics Activity Grant

Networking lunches and diversity coffee-and-cake meetups; hosting high-profile visiting speakers; recruiting and building groups of students interested in optics-focused careers; running STEM-engagement workshops aimed at young girls; and creating symposiums at which students interact with women professionals from industry and academia: these are just a few of the myriad activities that recipients of the SPIE Women in Optics Activity Grant have implemented around the world. The program, now entering…

#FacesofPhotonics: PhD Student Researcher, Brandon Hellman

Meet Brandon Hellman, this week's SPIE Faces of Photonics series feature. He is a student researcher at the University of Arizona, pursuing a PhD in Optical Sciences. Brandon and his colleagues work on making new lidar systems in Professor Yuzuru Takashima's lab. You can see a sample of their work on the College of Optical Sciences' YouTube page.


Enjoy the interview with Brandon!

1. Share your favorite outreach or volunteer story. 
Laser Fun Day is an annual optics outreach event put on by the Student Optics Chapter "SOCk" in the College of Optical Sciences. The event is free and open to the public, encouraging hundreds of children and adults of all ages to explore optics through hands-on demos put on by undergraduate and graduate students and faculty in the college. 
Demos include a laser maze -- Mission: Impossible-style -- a six-foot-long kaleidoscope, laser radios, solar telescopes, meter-wide Fresnel lenses that melt lava rocks into obsidian, infrared camera…

#FacesofPhotonics: Imperial College Postdoc, Hannah Williams

SPIE's Faces of Photonics series is sharing the story of Dr. Hannah Williams! Hannah recently graduated from Imperial College London after completing her thesis on ultracold molecules. She now continues that research as a postdoctoral research associate in the College's Centre for Cold Matter.

Along with her postdoc work, Hannah recently announced via Twitter that she is a Doctoral Prize Research Fellow for The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. This recognition is yet another achievement to add to her impressive list of accomplishments, which includes organizing and leading events such as the Gamechangers for Diversity in STEM event held recently at the Alan Turing Institute in London, of which SPIE was a sponsor.

Enjoy the interview with Hannah, and be sure to follow her on Twitter.


1. Tell us about when you first became interested in optics and photonics.

I did a summer placement in a lab during my undergraduate. This was the first time I'd ever used a …