28 February 2022
Optica Foundation Awards Inaugural Amplify Scholarship for Black Scholars
WASHINGTON – Today, the Optica Foundation in keeping with Optica values of inclusivity and impact, announced the inaugural class of Amplify Scholars supporting Black students and their passion for light science. The Foundation had previously announced that starting in 2022, they are awarding ten US$7,500 scholarships. The scholarships are coupled with Optica membership and a mentoring program. The Optica Foundation is supporting the growth of a global network of Black scientists working in optics and photonics. In response to the outstanding pool of applicants, the Optica Foundation Board has awarded an additional five scholarships for a total of 15 newly named beneficiaries.
"The pool of candidates from over 20 countries was impressive. It was inspiring to review these researchers' applications, learning more about their passion for optics, science and engineering. I am looking forward to following the careers of these exceptional young minds," Optica member of the review committee, George Okyere Dwapanyin, University of St Andrews, United Kingdom.
- Chenui Eugene Aban, University of Buea, Cameroon
- Adewale Akinyimika, Hebei University of Techology, China
- Akosua Boampong, Wellesley College, USA
- Jennifer Bragg, University of Arizona, USA
- Shayla Breedlove, University of Florida, USA
- Ayomikun Esan, University of Auckland, New Zealand
- Ibrahim Issah, Tampere University, Finland
- Rutendo Jakachira, Brown University, USA
- Arielle Joasil, Columbia University, USA
- Ngei Katumo, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany
- Hamidu Mbonde, McMaster University, Canada
- Sylvester Munyao, Multimedia University of Kenya, Kenya
- Ikechi Ndamati, McGill University, Canada
- Karabo Ndebele, Botswana International University of Science and Technology, Botswana
- Sheilah Njoka, Multimedia University of Kenya, Kenya
This program originated from reflection and discussion among Optica Ambassadors, early-career leaders in the society prompted by the ShutDownSTEM movement in 2020. These young members challenged their colleagues and the community to act. Their call to action was heard, generating support of this scholarship from Thorlabs, Meta, Federico Capasso, Harvard University, Corning Incorporated, IPG Photonics Corporation, and other contributors.
"There is a persistent underrepresentation of Black scientists in the optical sciences and physics. A lack of visibility, community and resources are frequently cited barriers to attracting bright Black students to STEM. We saw an opportunity to initiate change in our community and launching a scholarship seemed a natural place to start," Optica member and co-chair of the Fundraising Committee, Aline Dinkelaker, Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP), Germany.
The scholarships support Black undergraduate and graduate-level students studying physics, math, engineering, optics and photonics. In addition to the scholarship, each recipient will have access to professional development resources from Optica, including membership and mentorship. For more information about this program visit: optica.org/amplifyscholarship
Established in 2002, the Optica Foundation carries out charitable activities in support of the society’s student and early career communities. We cultivate the next generation of leaders and innovators as they navigate advanced degree programs and become active members of research, engineering and business worldwide. The foundation also works to secure the endowments for Optica’s awards and honors programs. The foundation is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit. For more information, visit optica.org/foundation.
Optica (formerly OSA), the society advancing optics and photonics worldwide, is 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.