An Insightful Experience at OSA Leadership

By Amol Choudhary, 2018 Ivan P. Kaminow Early Career Professional, University of Sydney, Australia

Dr. Ivan P. Kaminow was a pioneer in the area of telecommunications and was passionate about mentoring early career professionals and the OSA Ivan P. Kaminow Early Career Professional Prize has been constituted in his memory. I remember waking up in the first week of January and seeing the email from OSA that announced the award, a truly fantastic start to the year for me! It is an incredible honour for me to receive an award named after a legend in the field. The award allows the winner to attend the annual OSA Leadership Conference held in April at the OSA Headquarters in Washington DC as well as any OSA-sponsored conference of my choosing. 

When I arrived in Washington DC, my day started with going for a morning run to the tidal basin to catch the cherry blossoms at sunrise. The cherry blossoms only bloom for 2 weeks, so OSA did a great job on timing the meeting so perfectly!  At the conference, I finally had the opportunity to meet the wonderful OSA staff with whom I had been exchanging mails for so many years. I also met the 2018 class of OSA Ambassadors, a group of inspirational young leaders in the field of optics with a true passion for mentoring. The Ambassador Program is an innovative scheme that OSA has introduced to provide mentoring, career advice, technical knowledge to student chapters and early career professionals and to promote optics across larger geographies.

I had the privilege to attend the Board of Editors in the morning, a meeting where the editors report on the progress being made by their journals as well as any challenges. It was an eye-opening experience since it can be hard to realize the amount of work, planning and strategy that goes behind the scenes of any journal. It was also enriching to get an overview of where scientific publishing is heading in the next few years and to think about how we can further contribute. After lunch, I attended the Board of Meetings, where various conferences were discussed. I thoroughly enjoyed the discussions around the hot topics and what future conferences could focus on. It was exciting to hear the high-level discussions, and quite possibly CLEO was born out of such a discussion! At the end of the first day, we heard a fascinating talk about LIGO from Professor Nergis Mavalvala from MIT.

The next day started with a 2-hour brainstorming session where some thought-provoking and forward-looking questions around the society, optics and the larger community were discussed. We formed small groups and had very animated group discussions which I found to be very intellectually stimulating. We then went to the Membership Engagement and Development (MED) council, where several ideas to engage the broader optics community along with several schemes to help the members were also discussed.  What was striking about all the three meetings that I attended was the forward-looking mindset of the society. Of course it is important to help the members now, but it is equally important to foreshadow and prepare for changes and disruptions that may occur over the next two decades.

On the final day, I got to sit in the Ambassador meeting which kicked-off with a workshop looking at some of the challenges regarding discrimination. It was an interactive workshop and we had very open discussions. I found that it is important to discuss these issues freely and we shared some anecdotes as well as ways to combat such occurrences. Staying quiet and hoping for things to improve is certainly not the correct approach and we discussed allies and bystander intervention. If you see something wrong, do something about it! This was followed by some really cool photoshoots and I will not spoil the surprise here! We also heard about the various aspects of OSA such as the publications, technical groups, incubators and the OSA Foundation. Some key highlights for me were the incubators that are 2-3 day meetings for people to discuss new ideas, the vast amount of work done by the OSA Foundation for promoting optics and the fact that OSA matches every donation to the OSAF. We then wrapped up the conference with a rooftop reception and enjoyed some great views.

It was an amazing experience for me to be able to attend so many meetings at OSA, talk to the staff and leadership team and to be a part of the conversations about the future of the Society. The social aspects were also quite enjoyable and I got to enjoy some good food around the DC area with the Ambassadors. I am grateful to the OSA and the OSA Foundation for awarding me the 2018 Ivan P. Kaminow award and for giving me the opportunity to attend the Leadership Conference. This award is certainly a great boost for my career and I am greatly honoured by this recognition. 


Posted: 2 May 2018 by Amol Choudhary, 2018 Ivan P. Kaminow Early Career Professional, University of Sydney, Australia | with 0 comments

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