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

PITCH PERFECT: Optics expert 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. 

Nelson also teaches Optical Materials, Fabrication, and Testing for the Optical Engineer at SPIE conferences. 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. It is also offered online.

"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 things I love most about teaching are the conversations I have with the students. I love learning about their different experiences; I learn something new every time I teach the course!"

While teaching and her work are two of her primary passions, Nelson adds, "My life would not be complete without my family: I am a wife to a wonderful husband, Phil, and mom to my two-year old daughter, Amelia!"


DECK THE HALLS: The Nelson family poses for their 
Christmas picture

POLISHED TO PERFECTION: Nelson works in the optical manufacturing lab

FAB FOUR: Nelson and Optimax President, CEO, and former CFO sit down for a meeting in the office


DECODING SCIENCE: Nelson volunteers at Family Night 
at the University of Rochester, Institute of Optics

DRIVING INNOVATION: Nelson in the lab with colleague John Oliver

OPTIMAL COLLECTIVE: UR alums turned Optimax employees. L to R: Joseph Spilman, Steve Powers, Todd Blalock, Jessica DeGroote Nelson, Tim Lynch, Rick Plympton, and Jon Watson

HANDS UP FOR OPTICS!: Nelson and Amelia pose for the camera


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.

Follow along with past and present stories on SPIE social media channels:







Or search #FacesofPhotonics on your favorite social network!

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