Skip To Content


2022 Highlights

Our programs to foster and recognize the next generation of optics and photonics are made possible through the generous support of our donors. You can make a contribution at

See highlights below from our:

The 2022 annual report will be available during the first quarter of 2023.

20th Anniversary

Snapshots from the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Optica Foundation at Frontiers in Optics.

20th Anniversary

2022 marks the 20th anniversary of the Optica Foundation. First established in 2002 with foundation donations from Gary C. and Carolyn M. Bjorklund, Joseph W. and Hon Mai Goodman, Donald Ray Scifres, The Sawchuk Family Foundation and The Welch Family Fund, the foundation has grown into a suite of programs for students and early-career professionals from trainings to schools to recognitions.

In celebration of this milestone, we launched the Optica Foundation 20th Anniversary Challenge offering 10 prizes of US$100,000 to early-career professionals with proposals to use photonics, find solutions and change the world in the environment, health and information categories. The ten recipients are:


  • Dismas Choge, University of Eldoret, Kenya
  • Ashim Dhakal, Phutung Research Institute, Nepal
  • Michela Florinda Picardi, ICFO - The Institute of Photonic Sciences, Spain
  • Wanvisa Talataisong, Suranaree University of Technology, Thailand


  • Guangwei Hu, Nayang Technological University, Singapore
  • Xingchen Ji, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China
  • Florian Willomitzer, University of Arizona, USA


  • Chaoran Huang, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  • Mark Lawrence, Washington University of St. Louis, USA
  • Mengjie Yu, University of Southern California
2022 ScholarshipsThe 2022 Amplify Scholars and Optica Women Scholars

Scholarships & Travel Grants

We recognized the first recipients of the Amplify Scholarship for Black scientists  (US$7,500). Though this program was intended to recognize ten scholars, following the application process, the Optica Foundation Board of Directors authorized supporting an addition five, making a total of fifteen for the inaugural year.  This program was developed by the Optica Ambassadors in response to the lack of Black representation in optics and photonics and was generously supported by founding contributors Thorlabs and Meta as well as Federico Capasso, Harvard University; Corning Incorporated; Valentin Gapontsev and IPG Photonics Corporation; Eric Mazur, Harvard University; OFS Laboratories; Synopsys Incorporated; JA Woollam Incorporated and others. In 2022, Elsa Garmire and Robert "Bob" Russell joined the donors supporting this program with a major gift. The recipients are:

  • Chenui Eugene Aban, University of Buea, Cameroon
  • Adewale Akiniyimika, Hebei University of Technology, 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
  • Hamindu M. Mbonde, McMaster University, Canada
  • Sylvester Munyao, Multimedia University of Kenya, Kenya
  • Ikechu Ndamati, McGill University, Canada
  • Karabo Ndebele, Botswana International University of Science and Technology, Botswana
  • Sheila Njoka, Multimedia University of Kenya, Kenya

We recognized the first full class of Optica Women Scholars. This program is endowed by a US$1M fund created by the Optica Foundation and 10 additional, US$100,000 donations from Janet Fender (1997 Optica President) and John L. Otten III; Elizabeth Rogan, CEO, Optica; II-VI Incorporated; Corning Incorporated; Google LLC; Innolight; Intel; Meta; Neophotonics Corporation; and Source Photonics. The recipients are:

  • Emma Abbey, University of Victoria, Canada
  • Dulce María Badia, University of Murcia, Spain
  • Apoorva Bisht, University Of Arkansas, Fayetteville, USA
  • Jennifer Bragg, University of Arizona, USA
  • Klaudia Dilcher, University of Warsaw, Poland
  • Alice Drozdov, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Ilgim Efeturk, Izmir Institute of Technology, Turkey
  • Mackenzie Essington, Western University, Canada
  • Ana Garrigues Navarro, Universitat de València, Spain
  • Anastasia Goulopoulos, University Of Massachusetts Lowell, USA
  • Jaclyn John, University of Arizona, USA
  • Jodi Kreiner, University of Arizona, USA
  • Elena Moreno, University of Murcia, Spain
  • Maimuna Nagey, Multimedia University of Kenya, Kenya
  • Lalitasri Nandivada, University of Waterloo, Canada
  • Natasha Nehra, The University of Texas at Austin, USA
  • Isabella Pardo, University of Central Florida, USA
  • Yaoqi Tang, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China
  • Trulani van der Heyde, University of Auckland, New Zealand
  • María José Villamarín, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador

The Corning Women in Optical Communications Scholarships recipients are:

  • Sarah Chowdhury, Purdue University, USA
  • Juniyali Nauriyal, University of Rochester, USA
  • Fehmida Usmani, National University of Science and Technolofy, Islamabad, Pakistan.

The Corning Women in Optical Communications Travel Grants supported 12 women students and early-career professionals at OFC.

The Incubic/Milton Chang Travel Grants, Robert S. Hilbert Memorial Student Travel Grant and Jean Bennett Memorial Student Travel Grant supported 11 students at FiOLS.

Ambassadors and Fellowships

The 2022 Optica Ambassadors connecting with past classes at Optica's annual meeting Frontiers in Optics

Ambassadors & Fellowships

The Optica Ambassador Program is a marquee opportunity supported by the foundation's annual fund. As emerging leaders in the optics and photonics community, Ambassadors provide career advice, technical knowledge, and mentorship with students and early-career professionals in the field by supporting professional development events at meetings and engaging with their communities. , 70 people carry the distinction of Ambassador. Here is the 2022 class.

  • Barbara Buades, MEETOPTICS, Spain
  • Brandon Buscaino, Ciena Corporation, USA
  • Alessandra Carmichael Martins, Indiana University Bloomington, USA
  • Jhonattan Cordoba Ramirez, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG), Brazil
  • Sangyeon Cho, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, USA
  • Faezeh Gholami, IBM, USA
  • Alexander Jantzen, Aquark Technologies, United Kingdom
  • Hyeon Jeong Lee, Zhejiang University, China
  • Rodrigo da Silva Benevides, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
  • Richard Zeltner, Menlo Systems GmbH, Germany

The Thomas F. Deutsch Fellowship in Biomedical Optics was awarded to Fernanda Viana Cabral, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil for her proposal “Development of novel superhydrophobic technology for singlet oxygen delivery in the antimicrobial photodynamic therapy of wounds infected by multidrug-resistant pathogens.”

Student Chapters

A member of the Optica Student Chapter at the University of Messina, Italy giving a youth oureach demonstration (left); the Optica Student Chapter at the Institute for Physical Research, Armenia (right).

Student Chapters & IONS+

The Optica Foundation offers the community of 400+ Optica Student Chapters grants for unique programs focused on professional development, education outreach, and diversity & inclusion. In 2022, US$75,000 in grants were awarded to chapters for these programs.

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. The experience and skills gained from the program include program development, speaker recruitment, attendee marketing, developing and managing an events budget, overall logistics planning, sponsor engagement, and fundraising. In 2020, the foundation absorbed this program.

Beginning in 2022, IONS adopted a new model to engage, support, and advance the careers of students worldwide known as IONS+. These events will take place at Optica's conferences before the event. Student chapters will organize the programming; the event logistics and funding will be supported by the foundation and Optica's events department.

In 2022, it was possible to host one IONS+ at ECOC. Following that pilot, we plan to host at least three more in 2023.

Both student chapter  program grants and the IONS+ programs are funded by the Optica Foundation Annual Fund.

Prizes & Competitions

 2022 Bernard Couillaud Prize Winner Chiara Trovatello, Columbia University (center) honored at CLEO 2022 by Marco Arrigoni, Coherent Corp (left) and Chair of the Optica Foundation Board of Directors Eric Mazur, Harvard University (right)

Prizes & Competitions

The Bernard J. Couillaud Prize, a US$20,500 prize endowed by Coherent, is presented to Chiara Trovatello, Columbia University, USA. She is acknowledged for her innovative solutions associated with her work in optical parametric oscillators and amplifiers.

The Ivan P. Kaminow Outstanding Early Career Professional Prize was awarded to Sejeong Kim, University of Melbourne, Australia. Kim is recognized for her dedication to Optica's Nanophotonics Technical Group and youth outreach in Australia and South Korea.

The following prizes are associated with OFC, the largest global conference and exhibition for optical communications and networking professionals:

  • The inaugural recipient of the newly created Jane M. Simmons Memorial Speakership is Manya Ghobadi, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, for her contribution to AI systems and optically interconnected networks. In particular, utilizing newly emerging photonic technologies in data centers.
  • The Tingye Li Innovation Prize at OFC is presented to Hesham Sakr, Lumenisity Limited, UK for his paper "Hollow Core NANFs with Five Nested Tubes and Record Low Loss at 850, 1060 1300, and 1625nm".
  • The winner of the Corning Outstanding Student Paper Competition is Weihan Xu, Shanghai Jiao Tong University for his presentation on his paper “Fully Integrated Solid-State LiDAR Transmitter on a Multi-Layer Silicon-Nitride-on-Silicon Photonic Platform." 

The following prizes are associated with CLEO, the world’s premier international forum to learn about innovative advances, research and new technologies from the laser science industry:

In partnership with the Optical Interference Coatings (OIC) meeting, we created the H. Angus Macleod Student Prize to honor Macleod's legacy and amplify his passion for supporting and mentoring students. Macleod was a dedicated contributor to OIC, having served in many roles since 1991, including member and chair of the Program Committee and a member of the Optical Interference Coatings Advisory Committee. The first and third place prizes were awarded to Saaxewer Diop, CEA, Aix Marseille University, France, for his presentations, "Laser damage growth experiments on optimized multilayer dielectric coatings in the sub-picosecond regime" and "Laser resistance optimization of multilayer dielectric pulse compression gratings by reducing the electric field intensity through the dielectric mirror design." The second-place prize was awarded to Phillip Rumsby, for his presentation "Continuous ultra-thin silver films obtained by a two-step method for improved control of the optical and microstructural characteristics."

The Emil Wolf Outstanding Student Paper Competition recognized seven FiO presenters for research and presentation excellence:

  • Mathieu Couillard, OIST, Concordia University, Japan: “Measurement of the Absolute Radius, Refractive Index, and Dispersion of a Long Cylinder”
  • Joseph Greene, Boston University, USA: “Pupil Engineering in Miniscopes for Extended Depth-of-Field Neural Imaging”
  • Cecile Skoryna Kline, University of Bristol, UK: “Cavity QMD: Synthesizing resonant magnetic near fields using surface acoustic waves in piezoelectric resonators”
  • Nicola Mayer, Max-Born-Institut, Germany: “Synthetic chiral vortices for highly-sensitive chiral discrimination”
  • Karanveer Singh, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Germany: “Enhanced Performance High-Bandwidth Signal Detection by Time-Frequency Coherence Sampling”
  • Haiwen Wang, Stanford University, USA: “General Optical Convolution through a Compact Meta-crystal Slab Device”
  • Qianwan Yang, Boston University, USA: “Computational Miniature Mesoscope with deep learning reconstruction”
Schools & Trainings

The 2022 class of the Siegman International School on Lasers

Schools and training programs

The Level Up Leadership program is designed as a series of instructor-led training for early-career professionals to broaden participants' professional perspectives and increase their capabilities with non-technical skills. This program was piloted in 2022 as a precursor to the Optica Leadership meeting, with the Ambassador classes from 2016-2021. Overall feedback was positive, so the program will be available to any early-career member in 2023.

The Career Accelerator was offered 1 – 5 May 2022 bringing together 69 attendees from 17 countries to hear from speakers representing some of the leading companies in our industries on corporate career pathing.

We hosted our 6th Innovation School at Optica Headquarters from 12-16 June with 40 participants from 13 countries. The program, a week of product/solution development and customer/market research, resulted in 10 pitches. In addition to the immersive team activities to develop a company in four days, the attendees had the opportunity to meet and learn from experts representing leading industry companies such as Coherent, Google, IonQ, Neurescence, Luminate, Lumentum and Thorlabs.

The 2022 Siegman International School on Lasers completed its 8th cycle in Chęciny, Poland. We hosted 105 attendees (40% women) from 32 countries at this week-long event covering topics ranging from ultrafast lasers to machine learning to quantum. Scholarships and prizes are also awarded at the Siegman School:

  • We awarded the Burton J. McMurtry Poster Prizes, a program created by Thomas Baer (2009 Optica President) and Robert Byer (1994 Optica President). McMurtry was Siegman's first student.
  • The Zuegel Family Scholarships went to 10 students. Jon Zuegel, University of Rochester and his family, created a scholarship for Siegman students after Zuegel hosted the school in 2019.

The Subsea Optical Fiber Communications School was held on 10-16 July in Backafallsbyn, Sankt IBB, Sweden. We hosted 91+ people (attendees, speakers and industry representatives). This event featured lectures on optical transmission, cable powering, and network topologies. We also hosted round table discussions on challenge areas and sessions with corporate representatives on career opportunities.


Snapshots from the awards ceremony at Frontiers in Optics: Optica Foundation Board of Directors volunteer Stephen Fantone (left); Esther Bellar Hoffman Medalist Julie Bentley, University of Rochester and 2022 Optica President Satoshi Kawata, Osaka University & Nanophoton (center); Honorary Member Joseph Eberly, University of Rochester


The Optica Foundation manages the endowments for the society's awards and medals. To learn more about those recognized in 2020, visit



Image for keeping the session alive