OSA Student Chapters Celebrate The Optical Society's Centennial

Share This:




OSA Student Chapters Celebrate The Optical Society's Centennial

Global events range from student outreach to Nobel Prize winners and symposia


Chad Stark, Executive Director, OSA Foundation

Attendees await the live broadcast of Nobel winner Prof. John C. Mather’s presentation at the “OSA Welcome Evening.” The event was hosted by the OSA student chapter of Vilnius University at the university’s planetarium. Photo courtesy of The Optical Society.

The Optical Society (OSA) is celebrating its 100th anniversary, marking a century of innovation. 

Throughout the year, The Optical Society Centennial has featured a robust celebration of our past and future. Events like the “Light the Future” speaker series, our special centennial exhibit, and contests such as “Write the Future” celebrate our legacy as well as examine where optics and photonics will lead us. 

An important aspect in looking at the future of optics is the next generation of innovators who are part of OSA student chapters. 

Since the first chapter was founded at the University of Rochester in 1982, over 350 student chapters worldwide provide an important professional resource for future scientists. These chapters, which are managed for and by students, create valuable opportunities for professional development and foster lasting relationships between peers and mentors. In addition to their benefits for members, many chapters are heavily involved with community and youth education outreach to both provide a service to their community and work to disseminate the knowledge of optics and photonics worldwide.

OSA student chapters have taken an active role in celebrating our centennial through various programs, traveling lecturers, and events. In 2016 we will award 150 grants through our OSA Traveling Lecturer Program, which provides funding for student chapters to host a technical or professional development guest speaker of their choosing annually.

Student chapters have also been able to take advantage of special centennial-year programs, like the Centennial Special Event Grant Program. This program provides OSA student chapters with the resources to engage their local community through youth education programming as well as professional development for their members. It encourages our members to plan large-scale and impactful programs that promote the science of light.

Some of the events and programs funded by the Centennial Special Event Grant have included: 

Founded in October 2015, the OSA student chapter at the Xi’an Institute of Optics & Precision Mechanics has grown from six members at its founding to 40 today. The group hosted several activities to commemorate The Optical Society Centennial. As part of the celebration, professors at the University of Auckland, University of Science and Technology of China, National Tsing Hua University, and students from nearly 30 universities and institutes were invited to participate in the National Doctoral Academic Forum on Optics and Photonics, as well as other key activities, including lab tours, group photos, awards for best presentations, and a special centennial celebration of OSA. The invited speakers helped paint a picture of how far the fields of optics and photonics have progressed since OSA’s founding in 1916 and what the future may hold. The celebration even included a special birthday cake for the centennial.

A member of the OSA student chapter at Zhejiang University works with children from Youth Homes in Hangzhou on activities from the Optics Suitcase. Photo courtesy of The Optical Society.

The OSA student chapter at Zhejiang University in China used Centennial Special Event Grant funds to expose primary school and high school students to optics, science, and discovery. Over the course of four months, the student chapter visited over 800 students and participated in youth education activities. These outreach events helped expand students’ horizons when it comes to science, and the student chapter volunteers were amazed and pleasantly surprised at how quickly students were able to grasp certain concepts and answer questions that were seemingly beyond their reach.

The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) OSA student chapter in Australia marked OSA’s centennial by organizing their first ever OSA lecture series. In collaboration with the QUT school of Optometry and Vision Science, the QUT student chapter welcomed Professor Ian Cowling and Dr. Atanu Ghosh as their featured speakers in an event designed to educate and spread the awareness of a wide field of application of optics and light-based technologies in science, engineering, and other health research. The event drew over 40 attendees, and thanks to this success, the student chapter is planning to host at least two lecture series per year moving forward.

The OSA student chapter at Vilnius University in Lithuania celebrated the centennial under the “stars” by hosting an “OSA Welcome Evening” at the Planetarium of Vilnius University. The students were excited to begin the evening with a special live broadcast of a lecture given by Dr. John Mather, senior astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and 2006 Nobel laureate. The evening’s festivities continued with students and attendees sharing their thoughts on Dr. Mather’s speech and enjoying the evening under the projection of stars and planets at the only specialized information center of astronomy and natural sciences in Lithuania. 

The OSA student chapter at the College of Optics and Photonics (CREOL) at the University of Central Florida celebrated OSA’s centennial with an evening event at their campus in Orlando this past April. Eric Van Stryland, past dean of CREOL and past president of OSA, gave a presentation highlighting OSA’s centennial activities around the world. Gregory Quarles, chief scientist at OSA, discussed growth trends in the optics and photonics industry and offered career guidance to the students and faculty in attendance. Following the presentations, attendees enjoyed a reception which featured OSA’s centennial exhibit and a special OSA 100 cake.

Students from the University of Maryland’s OSA student chapter celebrated the centennial in a sweet way with this cake displaying OSA’s centennial logo. Photo courtesy of The Optical Society.

The Optical Society Centennial is the intersection of our defining history and our limitless future. Throughout this year and beyond, we reflect on a century of illumination and look forward to another 100 years of breakthroughs. We are OSA proud, and we know that the future is in good hands with these young inventors, engineers, and scientists currently in OSA student chapters. // 

To learn more, contact mediarelations [at] osa.org or visit osa.org/100.  

More from this department