Skip to main content

Why Light? Liz Dreyer, SPIE Future Leaders Committee Chair Answers

Liz Dreyer is an Early Career Professional Member of SPIE and chair of the SPIE Future Leaders Committee. Liz is also the next community member to answer our 'Why Light?' series. The series is leading up to the first International Day of Light, and asks SPIE Members to explain why they feel light is so important.

The inaugural International Day of Light – IDL – will take place 16 May 2018. IDL is a global initiative that provides an annual focal point for the continued appreciation of light. This day recognizes light and the vital role it plays in science, culture and art, education, and sustainable development.

On 16 May, join SPIE and communities worldwide by participating in activities that illustrate how the science and art of light improves all our lives. For more information and to plan your own event, visit spie.org/IDL.




Meet SPIE Member Liz Dreyer,
Chair, SPIE Future Leaders Committee

What about light inspires you?

I am inspired by the diversity of applications of light. Truly, there are seemingly unlimited ways that optical and photonic technologies can be applied to improve the world. As an enabling technology, the general public doesn't always see its effects, but they're there! Light helps cheer people up in the winter through the use of broad-spectrum lamps (Seasonal-affectedness disorder (SAD) lamps). It is also used to cut and weld metals for manufacturing. We've only just begun to apply light to the problems in our society. I can't wait to see what new things come next!

How can light help overcome a current global challenge?

One application that I am excited about is using light to clean water. UV light can be used to kill bacteria in drinking water. A lot of sickness in places with poor infrastructure is due to contaminated drinking water (think Cholera or diarrhea). As UV light sources get cheaper and cheaper, they can be distributed to people to clean water.

I'm also excited about agro-photonics! As we learn more about how different wavelengths of light affect plant growth, we can grow food indoors much more effectively.

What do you do to share your passion for light?

Many things!

1. I engage in outreach activities. Every year, I partner with other optics people in my area and we run activities and demos at local events. My favorite is 'Back to the Bricks' in Flint, Michigan. It's actually a car show, but has an education pavilion. We have activities for kids of all ages to try and demonstrations about how light works. We even made it onto the local news last year with a UV fluorescence demo.

2. I talk to people. When people comment on how cool some optics-related thing is, I take the time to explain to them how it works. I try to share my excitement rather than be condescending about it. I also know a lot of optics tricks that are fun to use to impress people with at parties.

3. I share cool optics things online. On my personal Twitter and Instagram account, I often share cool moments related to light in everyday life or in my lab.






Comments

Popular posts from this blog

#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…

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 and Women In Optics feature: IBM Researcher Anuja De Silva

Meet the SPIE Faces of Photonics star of the week, SPIE Member Anuja De Silva. Anuja grew up in Sri Lanka and now resides in Albany, New York, where she works as a materials and process researcher in the Semiconductor Technology Research division of IBM. Speaking of her work, she says, "I develop new types of materials and processes that help us to scale the size of computer chips... It's hardware development for next-generation semiconductor devices."

Anuja graduated with her Bachelor's in Chemistry from Mount Holyoke College and went on to get her Master's and PhD in Materials Chemistry from Cornell University. Upon conducting a research project for her undergraduate degree, she found her passion for optics and materials research.


"I have always been interested in math and science," Anuja shares. "The options in Sri Lanka, where I grew up, for a career as a research scientist were limited. My mother encouraged me to apply to college in the Unite…