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OSA Celebrates Volunteer Month

Marcia Lesky, Sr. Director D&I & Volunteer Cultivation and James Merrick, Director of Communications

April marks Volunteer Month, a recognition of those who generously contribute to their communities.  The Optical Society (OSA) wants to thank our outstanding volunteers who dedicate their time and expertise to help shape the society.  

OSA’s volunteers are a robust network representing diverse perspectives from academia, industry and government. We need new individuals to continue to grow and innovate. The good news is there is a wide array of options to get involved with OSA. Appointments typically require a commitment ranging from a few hours to a year or more.

“I have been volunteering as the Chair of OSA Fiber Optics Technology and Application Technical Group since 2018, to give back to the OSA community that has given me invaluable opportunities,” said Fae Gholami, IBM Systems, USA. “OSA conferences, events and resources have always been a source of inspiration and growth for me, specifically during graduate school.”

By visiting the Get Involved section you will learn about a variety of different volunteer opportunities across the society including:

  • Technical Groups – these 40 volunteer-led technical groups organize technical and networking events, run online forums and webinars to expand networks and create lasting connections.
  • Meeting Committees & Incubators – guided by dedicated committee chairs who build a team of experts from different topical areas within industry, academia and government.
  • Journal Reviewers – journals rely on volunteer editors and reviewers to select and disseminate the best and most relevant optics and photonics results.
  • OSA Awards and Medals – Volunteers promote recognition opportunities, provide recommendations and serve on review and selection committees to celebrate groundbreaking achievements in research, education, business, leadership and service.
  • Industry – activities range from committees to industry-focused events to programs that connect students and early career professionals with industry leaders.

From today's volunteer leaders, to the early career ambassadors preparing to lead us into the future, volunteers shape the entire fabric of the society. Join us by updating your member profile in My Account to select your technical group(s) and identify your areas of interest.

Below you can read about the experiences of a few remarkable volunteers, then share your own on social media – but don’t forget to tag @OpticalSociety. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Rocío Borrego Varillas, Istituto di Fotonica e Nanotecnologie, Italy
OPN Editorial Advisory Committee; Chair of the OSA Ultrafast Optical Phenomena Technical Group

I currently volunteer for the OPN Editorial Advisory Committee, as a chair of the OSA Ultrafast Optical Phenomena technical group and on the editorial board of two journals in the field of Optics. Volunteering for scientific societies certainly takes time, but I believe it is an important service to the community. It has also been a rewarding experience for me: for example, reviewing student travel grants has helped me to write better recommendation letters for my student and serving in the Ultrafast Optical Phenomena technical group has allowed me to build first-person connections with other peers.


Simin Cai, Go!Foton, USA
Member of the Board of Directors and Finance Council; Chair of the Industry Development Associates Council

Technologies are fascinating but people get the benefit of them when they are commercialized. As a volunteer at OSA/OIDA, I feel we contribute much more while working together as an industry rather than working alone for just one company.



Aline Dinkelaker, Leibniz Institut fur Astrophysik Potsdam, Germany
2016 Ambassador; Guest Editor for Aplied Optics and JOSA B; Siegman School Review Committee; Traveling Lecturer

While volunteering for OSA as a student in the local chapter and later as OSA Ambassador, I was particularly amazed by the opportunities and support we were given to realize ideas and impact and shape our community. Personally, this meant that I could dare to try new things and acquire new skills and perspectives, while making new friends in the process. Whether this be as a traveling lecturer, career event organizer or fundraising committee member, carrying out educational outreach work or attending OSA meetings.


Samuel Felipe Serna Otálvaro, Bridgewater State University, USA
2010 President of the OSA-SPIE National University of Colombia student chapter; 2016 President of the Student Chapter Optics in Paris, 2019 Ambassador, Corning Women in Optical Communications Review Committee

I consider that the only way to improve our community is by dedicating time, specially so during the pandemic. Students are particularly overwhelmed and working with them to organize online events that help build community and provide opportunities to interact with peers and professionals across OSA is so important. For me, volunteering is also a way to open safe and brave spaces for diverse audiences to connect. Seeing students revitalized after a conversation, a talk, a seminar or a conference means the world to me. Also, increasing my network with younger and other professionals helps me think about new collaboration and projects and getting to learn from so many people, their background, their stories, their research, their goals is inspiring and revitalizing for me. I’ve met amazing people and had remarkable experiences, so I invite you to volunteer, we need your experience; you will get so much in return. 

Fae Gholami, IBM Systems, USA
Chair of OSA Fiber Optics Technology and Application Technical Group, Corning Women in Optical Communications Review Committee

Through my technical group volunteer engagement, with help from my executive committee we have enhanced networking and learning opportunities for our over 2000 members through Webinar Series, Panel Discussions, Networking Events, and Social Media.


Rachel Sampson, University of Central Florida, CREOL, USA
2018 Vice President of the OSA University of Central Florida Student Chapter, Chair of the IONS Orlando

I had the opportunity to help organize an international student conference through the OSA IONS program. Seeing so many people connect early in their career was fantastic. There was a strong sense of community that transcended nationality, age, and background. As a graduate student, volunteering allows me to flex different muscles than I traditionally use in my studies. It is a great opportunity to network, develop soft skills, and try new things. I’ve received wonderful guidance and mentorship over the years that shaped the researcher I am today, I hope to pay that help forward through my volunteering efforts.



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