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19 September 2022

Optica to support the Wyant Challenge Matching Program at the University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics

Optica donation to establish a distinguished professorship honoring Donna Strickland

WASHINGTON – Optica (formerly OSA), Advancing Optics and Photonics Worldwide, today announced an $800,000 gift to fund an endowed position at the University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics, in Rochester, New York. The first distinguished professorship will be named Donna Strickland, 2018 Nobel Laureate in Physics, 2013 Optica President, and a University of Rochester alumnus. This gift will be matched with $1.2M by the Wyant Optics Challenge Fund, a gift that will increase the number of full-time faculty at the Institute of Optics by 50 percent over the next 10 years. The Donna Strickland and Optica Distinguished Professorship in Optics will be used to attract, retain, and support faculty to lead rigorous research programs, academic instruction, laboratory exercises and networking opportunities.

Donna Strickland

“I am proud of the research I did while studying at the institute, and I am honored that this endowment will give other students opportunities to strive and thrive in graduate school,” said Strickland. “When surrounded by other people passionate about the same research areas, breakthrough research is possible.”

 “This gift, honoring Donna Strickland for her distinguished career, will further enable the Institute of Optics, the Hajim School of Engineering & Applied Sciences, and the University of Rochester overall to grow their faculty and provide novel research and high-quality training to students in the optical sciences,” said Elizabeth Rogan, CEO of Optica. “We are pleased that Donna’s impact on laser science research will be tied to the multidisciplinary impact of this distinguished professorship.”

“We are truly grateful to Optica and Jim and Tammy Wyant for the gifts for their generosity,” said Thomas G. Brown, Mercer Brugler Distinguished Teaching Professor and Director of the Institute of Optics. “The Institute of Optics is committed to providing challenging and enjoyable educational experiences in the broad field of optics. To lead and participate in national and international optics research, we must recruit nationally renowned faculty and provide them with resources to engage in this compelling research.”

Strickland is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Waterloo. She earned a Ph.D. in optics from the University of Rochester where fellow 2013 Nobel Laureate Gérard Mourou was her advisor. She served as the president of Optica in 2013. Strickland is a fellow of Optica, the Royal Society of Canada, and SPIE. She is an honorary fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering and Institute of Physics.

The Institute of Optics announced the  10-year Wyant Optics Challenge Fund on 19 September 2022. The USD 12 million challenge fund—the largest gift in the institute’s history—will allow it to increase the number of its full-time faculty members from 20 to 30, with most of the expansion expected to occur in time for the institute’s 100th anniversary celebration in 2029. The increase will help meet a growing demand, both in the Rochester area and nationwide, for trained optics graduates. For more information and to support the Wyant Optics Challenge, visit:

About the Institute of Optics
The Institute of Optics is the nation’s original institution for groundbreaking research and education in the fields of optics, photonics, and laser science and technology. As an academic department within the Hajim School of Engineering & Applied Sciences, the institute has a current enrollment of more than 300 students and has awarded nearly 3,000 degrees, about half of all degrees ever awarded in optics within the U.S. Through rigorous academic instruction, laboratory exercises, informal events, and networking opportunities, faculty and staff at the institute are dedicated to providing a challenging and enjoyable educational and research experience in the broad field of optics.

About Optica

Optica, Advancing Optics and Photonics Worldwide, is the society dedicated to promoting the generation, application, archiving and dissemination of knowledge in the field. Founded in 1916, it is the leading organization for scientists, engineers, business professionals, students and others interested in the science of light. Optica's renowned publications, meetings, online resources and in-person activities fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate scientific, technical and educational achievement. Discover more at:

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