U.S. Congressional Optics and Photonics Caucus Aims to Raise Awareness of Light-based Technologies

By Suzanne Ffolkes, Chief Communications Officer

The newly formed U.S. Congressional Optics and Photonics (O&P) Caucus hosted a virtual public launch event on 24 February 2021 with remarks from co-chairs and leading researchers. Caucus co-chairs include U.S. Representatives Joe Morelle (D-NY) and Brian Mast (R-FL) and Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). The recording of the virtual event can be found here.


The launch of “the bipartisan, bicameral Caucus is the result of a multi-year effort,” said Rep. Morelle. “I am so grateful to my colleagues, industry experts and local advocates who helped make this a reality. As a congressional caucus, we will work in a bipartisan manner to increase awareness of how optics and photonics improves the everyday lives of Americans and work to maintain the United States’ position as a leader in global innovation.”

The O&P Caucus seeks to educate members of the U.S. Congress and their staff about the importance of light-based research and technologies. Such innovations are pivotal to creating high-quality jobs and addressing major threats such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The Caucus will also advocate for greater public and private investments and policies in this field.

The Optical Society (OSA) and SPIE played a key role in the establishment of the Caucus as co-founders of the National Photonics Initiative (NPI), a broad-based collaborative alliance among industry, academia, and government to raise awareness of optics, photonics and quantum science and technology.

“The Congressional Optics and Photonics Caucus will do important work to promote light-based research and technologies that provide solutions to some of our greatest challenges in health, safety and security,” said Elizabeth Rogan, CEO, The Optical Society (OSA). “OSA and its global community are pleased to support the mission of this Caucus.”

The virtual event featured Bruce Tromberg, PhD, director, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering; Adele Ratcliff, director, Industrial Base Analysis & Sustainment (IBAS) Program within the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Policy; Alexis Vogt, PhD, professor of optics, Monroe Community College, USA; and Zeeshan Ahmed, PhD, research chemist, National Institute of Standards and Technology, USA.

NPI Chair Ed White moderated a discussion about the science and technology of optics and photonics.

“We must develop educational programs and training at all levels to ensure the talent to advance important technologies and translate them into products that improve our security, our health and overall quality of life,” said White, adding that the goal is to have a well-funded research portfolio and trained workforce.

NPI was instrumental in passage of the National Quantum Initiative (NQI) Act in 2018 which increased government funding for quantum research at U.S. federal agencies the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy.

Supporting organizations for the U.S. Congressional Optics and Photonics Caucus include New York Photonics; Colorado Photonics Industry Association; Montana Photonics Industry Alliance; New Mexico Optics Industry Association; Mi-Light Cluster (Michigan Optics & Photonics Industry Association); Optics Valley Arizona; Florida Photonics Cluster; International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE); The Optical Society (OSA); National Photonics Initiative (NPI).


Posted: 26 February 2021 by Suzanne Ffolkes, Chief Communications Officer | with 0 comments

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