Optica Women Scholars

Empowering the next generation of women leaders in optics and photonics.

Application Dates
13 Dec 2022 - 31 Jan 2023
Program Prize
  • US$10,000
  • One-year Optica Student Membership
  • Access to mentorship platform and connection with a mentor

20 Optica Women Scholars are selected annually and receive a merit and need-based grant. In addition to the funding, scholars gain access to our global network of mentors and the supporting companies.

Application Information

How to Apply


Important Dates

Opens 13 December 2022
Closes 31 January 2023

Applicant Requirements
  1. Self-identify as a woman.
  2. Be currently enrolled as an undergraduate or Master's student at a university.
  3. Undergraduate Student: have a major in optics, physics, chemistry, math or engineering and a demonstrated interest in optics and photonics.
  4. Masters Student: have a major and/or concentration in optics or photonics demonstrated with your research and coursework.
  5. Demonstrate academic potential (GPA, publications, references, other awards/merits).
  6. Program requirements recognize and exclude career breaks from timelines (eg, eldercare; maternity or paternity leave).
Application Requirements
  1. CV or resume
  2. Personal statement describing academic/professional background and interest in optics and photonics in 500 words or less.
    • What are your educational, research, and career goals?
    • Describe your experiences and interests related to optics and photonics (e.g., laser science, fiber optics, lens design, vision science, imaging and sensing, electrical or mechanical engineering, biomedical optics, quantum theory, or applications.)
  3. Budget reflecting anticipated academic expenses and other sources of funding.
  4. Copies of academic transcripts from the last 2-3 years demonstrating competence in physics or engineering.
  5. Two letters of recommendation addressing your interest in optics as well as merits for receiving this scholarship.

2022 Recipients

Chenui Eugene Aban
Emma Abbey
University of Victoria, Canada
Adewale Akinyimika
Dulce María Badia
University of Murcia, Spain
Apoorva Bisht
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, USA
Jennifer Bragg
Jennifer Bragg
University of Arizona, USA
Shayla Breedlove
Klaudia Dilcher
University of Warsaw, Poland
Ayomikun Esan
Alice Drozdov
University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Ibrahim Issah
Ilgim Efeturk
Izmir Insitute of Technology, Turkey
Rutendo Jakachira
Mackenzie Essington
Western University, Canada
Arielle Joasil
Ana Garrigues Navarro
Universitat de València, Spain
Ngei Katumo
Anastasia Goulopoulos
University of Massachusetts Lowell, USA
Hamidu M. Mbonde
Jaclyn John
University of Arizona, USA
Sylvester Munyao
Jodi Kreiner
University of Arizona, USA
Ikechi Ndamati
Elena Moreno
University of Murcia, Spain
Karabo Ndebele
Maimuna Nagey
Multimedia University of Kenya, Kenya
Sheilah Njoka
Lalitasri Nandivada
University of Waterloo, Canada
Sylvester Munyao
Natasha Nehra
University of Texas at Austin, USA
Sylvester Munyao
Isabella Pardo
University of Central Florida, USA
Sylvester Munyao
Yaoqi Tang
Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China
Sylvester Munyao
Trulani van der Heyde
University of Auckland, New Zealand
Sylvester Munyao
María José Villamarín
Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador


Founders US$100,000


L. John Otten III & Janet Fender

Janet Fender & L. John Otten III

When I entered the field of optics, women as peers or role models were a real rarity. I worked hard at achieving a successful career, but my life was far from balanced. I wonder how many talented women may have left our field because they didn’t have the support of their peers or know women as role models. My husband and I dreamed of a scholarship program for women in optics. The foundation embraced that dream, engaged the optics community and created a remarkable program to enable a future substantial network of women connecting and supporting each other while building successful and fulfilling careers in optics and photonics.
Janet Fender
Elizabeth Rogan

Elizabeth Rogan
CEO, Optica


In order to solve the world’s problems and fuel new discoveries, we need participation from all. And that’s why I support resources to enable women to access and excel in optics and photonics.

Elizabeth Rogan
Coherent Corp

Women scientists and engineers can be found throughout II-VI globally, making groundbreaking contributions, and we look forward to many more joining our ranks. We strongly encourage women to become the future generation of leaders in optics, optoelectronics, and photonics, following in the footsteps of those who have already reached the higher echelons in our industry. We celebrate both women and men who have been recognized as thought leaders, including the recently elected 2022 Optica Fellows class.

Vincent D. Mattera, Jr., Chair and CEO, Coherent Corp.
Corning Incorporated

Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to have had the support of an employer that values diversity with leaders that understand the importance of advocacy and inclusion. The Optica Women Scholars program will ensure that other females coming into the industry have those same opportunities and support, providing new perspectives that drive breakthrough technologies.

Jeanne Propst, Senior Vice President, Data Center, Corning Incorporated
Google LLC

Google looks forward to seeing the talented recipients of the foundation’s new scholarships enter the workforce for a prosperous future.

Hong Liu, Distinguished Engineer, Google LLC

InnoLight is pleased to sponsor and contribute to the Optica Women Scholars program. Women have been major contributors to the adoption and advancement of optical technologies. This scholarship program will enable more talented women to participate in the development of next generation optical technologies.

Osa Mok, Chief Marketing Officer, Innolight Technology.
Intel Corporation

As the world is becoming increasingly digital, there has never been a more important time to be a technologist. Our industry must join together to support higher education and professional communities analogous of society. Women represent 50% of humanity; representation doesn’t come close to that, especially in areas like optics and photonics. Two decades ago, I started silicon photonics when I was CTO at Intel and now our silicon photonics technology shines inside hyperscale datacenters around the world. To continue that relentless pace of innovation, we need programs like this that ensure we are opening the door of opportunity wide for all of the best and brightest technologists.

Pat Gelsinger, CEO, Intel
Meta is proud to be part of this new program and looks forward to launching talented scholarship recipients into careers in this important technology area of the future.
Katharine Schmidtke, Director of Sourcing, Meta
Source Photonics
Source is very proud to be part of this scholarship program in Optics. Leveraging diverse talents and points of view sustains Source Photonics’ innovative and creative teams. The Optica Women Scholars represent ideal candidates for our global workforce. We look forward to supporting these exceptional young researchers with funding and mentorship as they prepare for a prosperous career in photonics.
Frank Chang, Chief Engineer and Head of CTO Office, Source Photonics

Other Supporters US$10,000+

  • Marvell Semiconductors Inc

  • Edmund Optics

  • Joseph Goodman

  • Optimax

  • Alice Sinclair

  • James C. Wyant

2023 Selection Committee

Lisa Bickford Google LLCUNITED STATES
Frank Chang Source PhotonicsUNITED STATES
Jessica Pastor Coherent Corp.UNITED STATES
Lydia Sanmarti ICFOSPAIN
Katharine E Schmidtke Facebook Inc.UNITED STATES