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Why Light? SPIE Fellow and Woman in Optics Kyle Myers Answers

In preparation of the second annual International Day of Light this 16 May, we asked members of the SPIE community to explain why they feel light is so important. Today, 8 March is also International Women's Day. So to kick off this year's 'Why Light?' series and to celebrate IWD2019, we spoke with SPIE Fellow Dr. Kyle Myers, director of the Division of Imaging, Diagnostics, and Software Reliability in the Office of Science and Engineering Laboratories, at the Center for Devices and Radiological Health at the US Food and Drug Administration.

She is an active Member of SPIE, advocating for women in optics within her various roles with the organization and in the greater optics and photonics community.  She answers for us what light means to her and to the greater global community.

Dr. Kyle Myers

Dr. Myers answered these three questions in our 'Why Light?' series:

What about light inspires you?

How can light help overcome a current global challenge?

What do you do to share your passion for light?

As someone who has spent a career in medical imaging, light inspires me because of the many ways it can be harnessed to detect, diagnose and treat disease. We use just about every part of the electromagnetic spectrum to probe properties of the human body: radio waves are central to making magnetic resonance images, gamma rays are fundamental to nuclear medicine, and we use visible light to monitor blood oxygenation and evaluate microscope slides of tissue post-biopsy. Radiation therapy has advanced to where it is able to be targeted at extremely precise locations, irradiating tumors while sparing surrounding normal tissue.

I love talking about medical imaging to students, from elementary school ages on up. They “light up” at the understanding of pixels as picture elements that carry information about a patient, and usually know someone who has had a medical image taken or had a series done themselves for a sports injury or playground accident, if not something more serious. They are quick to appreciate the wonder and power of light to tell us about what goes on inside of us.

I have been blessed to be a part of this field over the past few decades as we witnessed the transformation of film-based imaging to digital devices along with the advancement of computing power that enabled computer-aided diagnosis to augment human reading of images. Light-based medical devices continue to be developed, advanced and shown to make new and significant impacts on the lives of patients.

The International Day of Light – IDL – takes place annually on 16 May. IDL is a global initiative that provides a 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


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