2022 Annual Fund

Your contribution to the Annual Fund supports the following programs.


As emerging optics and photonics community leaders, Optica Ambassadors share their experiences and perspectives with students and early-career professionals. They provide career advice, technical knowledge and mentorship.

Launched in 2016, this program was continued at the request of the Centennial Advisory Panel in 2017.In 2018, the foundation absorbed this program as a high-profile professional development activity, directly impacting both students and early-career professionals.

In 2022, we will recognize a new class of ten individuals and support the 2020 and 2021 ambassadors due to the pandemic's impact on their experience.  The increase in support for this program from previous years is intended to cover these additional travel costs for three classes vs. one.


Launched in 2007, the IONS program encourages student chapters to organize and manage regional meetings featuring technical and professional development content and networking with peers and luminaries.

Beginning in 2022, IONS will adopt a new model to engage, support, and advance the careers of students worldwide, known as IONS+. These events will now take place at Optica's conferences before the event. Student chapters will organize the programming, and the attendees from all over the world will be able to create a cohort to experience the upcoming conference together. IONS+ events are tentatively planned for:

  1. Biophotonics (Florida, United States)
    1. IONS+: 23 April
    2. Congress: 24-27 April
  2. Imaging and Applied Optics (Vancouver Canada)
    1. IONS+: 10 July
    2. Congress: 11-15 July
  3. ECOC (Basel, Switzerland)
    1. IONS+: 17 September
    2. Partner meeting: 18-22 September

Student Chapter Special Program Grants

Optica Student Chapters receive grants from both Optica and the foundation. Beginning in 2021, the society covered all management grants to support essential operations. The foundation offers grants for unique programs focused on professional development, education outreach, and diversity & inclusion.

In 2021, 25 chapters received special programs, with the majority focused on diversity and inclusion. 

Software Licenses & Training

During the pandemic, many students lost access to essential tools and resources at their universities. In partnership with VPIphotonics and Zemax, we provided simulation and design software to students residing in emerging market economies. 58 students from 17 countries have been granted one-year licenses based on their use proposals. Following the success of this program, we plan to continue the opportunity in 2022.

Mentor Match

In 2021, the foundation piloted a small mentorship program. After positive feedback from mentors and mentees, we would like to expand the program to create mentee opportunities for all foundation scholarship beneficiaries. 

Public Policy Training

The foundation offers up to 20 early-career members a unique public policy learning experience that demonstrates the value of science-government interaction. These members receive expert training on communicating with legislators and the general public about science in policy and society. They then join other Optica members to meet with U.S. senators and representatives during Congressional Visits Day.

Optics Suitcases

The Optics Suitcase is an innovative, interactive presentation package designed to introduce middle school students to the dynamic and exciting range of concepts within the study of light. In partnership with the Rochester Local Section, the foundation offers a number of these suitcases to chapters worldwide to use as part of their community outreach efforts.

Chapter Zoom Accounts

With the lack of in-person events, we are offering professional Zoom accounts to student chapters to alleviate challenges with time and attendee limitations and to enable access to virtual guest lecturers and other programs. Over the last year, over 1200 meetings have taken place, impacting 6,100 students. Chapters engaged in over 30,000 hours of content with the largest contingent of attendees from India, Ukraine, Mexico, Ghana, and Russia. In 2022, the funding will continue the support of up to 70 chapters with professional Zoom accounts

Additional Opportunities

Additional funding to be allocated throughout the year for unplanned opportunities.