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Kaminow Outstanding Early-Career Professional Prize

Be recognized for leadership and service to the community.

Application Dates
01 Apr 2024 - 13 May 2024
Program Prize

Funding to attend FiO+LS, ability to advance to the interview round of the Ambassador Program and a $2000 grant. 

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Established in 2012, this prize honors Ivan Kaminow for his many contributions to the field of optics and photonics, as well as his dedication to mentoring and inspiring early career researchers.

Each year, one early career member is selected to acknowledge their volunteer efforts with both Optica and the community.  We seek emerging leaders who dedicate their time to activities, such as student chapters, youth outreach, community service, meetings and publication service.

Invited to attend an Optica Leadership meeting or Frontier in Optics (FIO), the recipients can network with 120+ leaders of Optica and learn more about the society’s strategic priorities. Additionally, the recipient receives funding a $2000 grant to attend an Optica topical meeting focused on their research. This prize offers a unique combination of volunteerism through Optica engagement and the enhancement of professional skills.

Application Information

How To Apply

Applications will be available at

Important Dates

Opens 01 April 2024
Closes 13 May 2024

Applicant Requirements
  • Be a current early career professional member or recent graduate member
  • Active individual members may apply as long as they have achieved their highest degree in the last seven years
Application Requirements
  • Short answer questions
  • CV/resume
  • Two reference letters

2023 Recipient

Justus C. Ndukaife
Justus C. Ndukaife
Vanderbilt University

For unwavering commitment to teaching, mentoring, and community service by fostering the growth and development of students and early-career professionals within his local community and in Africa.

Justus holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, which he earned from Purdue University. Currently, an Assistant Professor at Vanderbilt University, focused on optically-resonant nanostructures, aiming to confine and manipulate light at a deeply sub-wavelength scale.

At Purdue, he served as the President of the Optica Student Chapter, initiating outreach programs dedicated to familiarizing K-12 students with optics and nanophotonics. He organized a mock-clean room experience, enabling students to experience working in a lab environment. He established the first Annual Conference for Addressing Grand Challenges at Purdue University, a tradition that continues today.

While at Vanderbilt University, he maintained his dedication to outreach by creating activities that provided local and international students with hands-on experiences in optical trapping using lasers. In 2018 and 2020, Justus was honored with a Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Award, allowing him to promote education and outreach initiatives in emerging economy African nations, focusing on nanoscale optics and mentoring students at the University of Nigeria.

As an executive committee member of the Optica Optical Trapping in Biology Technical Group, he coordinated webinars to offer students and researchers globally valuable insights into the latest developments in optical trapping. Justus is dedicated to promoting optics education, developing international collaborations, and empowering students from diverse backgrounds to discover the field of optics and photonics.

In July 2023, Justus received a $1.9 million Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, aimed at backing his project to expand the fundamental understanding of nanoscale sub-cellular particles.

Past Recipients

  • Sejeong Kim, University of Melborne, Australia (2022)
  • Brandon Buscaino, Infinera Corporation, USA (2021)
  • Chaitanya Kumar Suddapalli, ICFO and Radiantis, Spain (2020)
  • Robert Woodward, Macquarie University, Australia (2019)
  • Amol Choudhary, University of Sydney, Australia (2018)
  • Adam J. Fleisher, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), USA (2017)
  • Rocio Borrego-Varillas, Politecnico di Milano, Italy (2016)
  • Alvaro Casas-Bedoya, University of Sydney, Australia (2015)
  • Antigone Marino, Italian National Research Council, Italy (2015)
  • Arlene Smith, University of Michigan, USA (2014)
  • Arti Agrawal, City University, London, United Kingdom (2013)
  • Giovanni Volpe, Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey (2012)
  • Laura Waller, University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA (2012)


This fund is sponsored by the Kaminow family, Intel Corporation and personal donations from the community.

About the Endowment

Ivan P. Kaminow was a pioneer who helped revolutionize the telecommunications industry. A Member for 48 years, Ivan received many awards over his career, including the Charles Hard Townes Award, John Tyndall Award and Frederic Ives Medal/Jarus W. Quinn Endowment. Ivan was respected among his peers and known for influencing and guiding future innovators in the field of optics and photonics. 

More information on Ivan’s accomplishments can be found here.


2024 Selection Committee

Name Affiliation Country
Isinsu Baylam California Polytechnic State University UNITED STATES
Brandon Buscaino Ciena Corporation UNITED STATES
Alessandra Marie Carmichael Martins Univ Hospital Bonn Dept of Ophthalmology GERMANY
Alvaro Casas-Bedoya University of Sydney AUSTRALIA
Tatevik Chalyan Vrije Universiteit Brussel BELGIUM
Mitchell Arij Cox University of the Witwatersrand SOUTH AFRICA
Margaret Zoila Dominguez NASA Goddard Space Flight Center UNITED STATES
Sejeong Kim University of Melbourne AUSTRALIA
Carlos Lopez-Mariscal Underwater Photonics MEXICO
Antigone Marino Italian National Research Council ITALY
Kseniia Minakova NTU KhPI UKRAINE
Manish Tiwari Manipal University Jaipur INDIA
Robert Ian Woodward Toshiba Europe Ltd. UNITED KINGDOM
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