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Student reflections at Frontiers in Optics + Laser Science 2022

Ashley Collier, Corporate Communications Manager, Optica

Optica's Student Leadership (SLC) brought together 100 student members from around the world at this year's annual Frontiers in Optics + Laser Science (FiO) conference. The Student Leadership program allowed students to immerse themselves in an environment full of professional development, technical content, and networking and fun.

Students heard from world-renowned lecturers and industry leaders on topics ranging from sustainable networking advice for scientists and engineers, the journey to entrepreneurship, and career options in academia and industry and more. During the three-day Leadership Experience, we captured the attendees perspectives on their experience at FiO.

"Being a non-profit organization, I sincerely thank Optica for organizing the Student Leadership Conference. There are no words to explain how much exposure the whole event has given me since I am a young researcher," said Mohammed Zia Jalaludeen, who is a PhD student at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technol. "Being a student, I was constantly exposed only to the academic environment. Through the SLC+FiO event, I gained awareness about what will be work-life when we are in an industry, which was very useful for me to start to think and prepare in advance for my future career.

Shaban Sulejman, who studies at the University of Melbourne, noted, "the Optica student leadership conference provided an invaluable opportunity to meet people from across the globe and build leadership skills. These connections and skills are beyond significant and enable possibilities that otherwise wouldn't have arisen. Finally, memories and friendships were created that will span a lifetime."

Julian Gamboa, a Ph.D. candidate at Northwestern University, reflected on the benefit of attending the conference. "The Student Leadership experience showed me the value of attending a scientific conference. I feel like I've learned how to properly take advantage of conferences for both networking and learning! The people I met and the things I learned will certainly accompany me throughout my academic career."

Attendees found the three-day event impactful and an enriching experience. "Attending the SLC and FiO was one of the best experiences of my professional career," added Siann Bester, who attends the University of Stellenbosch. "All the talks were exceptional, and the quality of the research presented was truly outstanding. Optica created the perfect space in which students felt comfortable to network and talk to anyone and everyone. I walked away from this experience with contacts of top researchers in my field, a greater sense of self, and (hopefully) lifelong friends."

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