|The Optical Society of America
Optical Society of America (OSA) began in 1916 in Rochester, New
York, as a gathering of the field’s leading scientists, who
agreed to create an organization through which scientific ideas,
interests, and discoveries could be shared. The society still adheres
to its founders’ original goals, and today, OSA carries forward
the spirit and vision of its first members.
The society’s mission has remained throughout the years
to “promote the generation, application, and archiving of
knowledge in optics and photonics and to disseminate this knowledge
worldwide.” As one of the premier associations for those
working in optics and photonics, OSA’s activities center
around the needs and interests of the scientific and engineering
communities by providing a breadth of conferences, education initiatives,
and publications that benefit the field as a whole.
OSA is governed by committees, councils, and a board of directors.
Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the society employs a staff
of 125. “OSA truly is run by its membership,” says
Elizabeth Rogan, OSA executive director. “The board of directors — exempting
the treasurer, who is appointed by the board—is elected by
its peers and colleagues. Our members are the heart and soul of
the society. Their efforts guide the organization’s activities,
and their vision helps us to prepare to meet the needs that members
will have in the years ahead.”
OSA brings together the worldwide community of optics and photonics
scientists, business leaders, engineers, educators, students, and
technicians. Its nearly 15,000 individual members from more than
100 countries benefit from special educational programs, free or
discounted journal subscriptions, special events, and online and
career services. OSA’s corporate associate members represent
the field’s leading commercial and nonprofit organizations
with an interest in optics. OSA is a founding member society of
the American Institute of Physics’ ten
The society has a worldwide network of local sections and student
chapters. These organizations provide the regional outreach so
important to serving local scientists and communities. The society
is always looking to expand its reach, both in the United States
and abroad, through its sections and chapters.
“When I was OSA President in 2002, I began my term with
the personal goal of expanding OSA’s worldwide growth,” says
Anthony Johnson of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. “Through
hard work and dedication, we have made this vision a reality. We
now have four student chapters in Canada, one in Turkey, two in
Ghana, and two in Brazil. Outreach continues, and these efforts
help the global scientific community to share knowledge and resources.”
OSA journals, monographs, and proceedings are the publications
of choice for those who need accurate, timely information in the
field of optics and photonics. OSA peer-reviewed journals set the
standard for advanced optics research within each major sector
of the field and are among the most cited resources in optics.
These journals include Applied Optics, Journal of
the Optical Society of America (JOSA) A, JOSA
B, Optics Letters, Optics Express, Journal
of Optical Technology, Journal of Lightwave Technology,
and the Journal of Optical Networking.
Optics InfoBase, OSA’s
online journal information repository, enables Web site visitors
to search its
records for peer-reviewed papers that have appeared in OSA journals.
Optics and Photonics News, OSA’s monthly magazine, provides
timely news and analysis of some of optics’ hottest topics,
and updates on OSA activities, meetings, and product and service
OSA also hosts and co-sponsors some of the field’s
most important conferences, expositions, and topical meetings,
including the Optical Fiber Communications Conference and Exposition
(OFC), the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO), and
the International Quantum Electronics Conference (IQEC). In 2004,
the CLEO/IQEC co-sponsors will launch a new engineering-focused
conference called Photonic Applications, Systems, and Technologies
(PhAST). Colocated with CLEO/IQEC, PhAST will provide a new perspective
and draw a new audience to the CLEO/IQEC forum. For the first time,
attendees will be able come to a single cluster of events that
offers differing views of the optics and photonics industry. CLEO,
IQEC, and PhAST will provide a complete picture of the field, with
presentations that follow a concept from theory to scientific research
to practical application. For more information, log onto www.phastconference.org.
From introductory courses to in-depth sessions focusing on the
latest research in a specialized area, OSA conferences present
technical information in a variety of formats, all with the goal
of providing highquality educational opportunities. These sessions
include peer-reviewed technicalpaper presentations, special symposia
and panel discussions, accredited short courses, hands-on workshops
and demonstrations, business- and application-focused programs,
and large-scale commercial exhibits.
meeting provides an opportunity for members to exchange ideas and
network with colleagues. In 2003, OSA debuted many programs and
events along with a new name for the meeting, “Frontiers
in Optics.” The 2003 meeting, held in Tucson, Arizona, on
Oct. 5–9, included themes and sessions developed and managed
by OSA’s technical divisions.
Recognized throughout the sector,
OSA awards emphasize the successes of the field’s leaders.
The society honors distinguished achievement in the science of
optics through the presentation of three categories of awards and
honors. The first category, the highest award of the society for
overall distinction in optics, is the Frederic Ives Medal. The
second category consists of awards for general distinction and
includes those named OSA Fellows. Any individual OSA member is
eligible for nomination. The third category consists of specialty
awards given for excellence in a particular optics discipline.
||Daniel Van der Weide, an
OSA member and Associate Professor in the department of computer
and electrical engineering at the UNiversity of Wisconsin-Madison,
directs graduate students in terahertz research. (Jim Beal,
University of Wisconsin-Madison, College of Engineering)
of the proudest moments of my career was becoming an OSA Fellow,” says
Alan Willner of the University of Southern California. “What
made becoming a Fellow so special was that it was also the same
day that my mentors, Ivan Kaminow and Tingye Li, whom I had nominated
for the OSA Charles H. Townes Award and the Frederic Ives Medal,
found out that they had been selected to receive those honors.
It was extraordinarily meaningful to share that experience with
Education outreach is one of the most significant
ways OSA supports local communities and inspires tomorrow’s
young scientists. These activities include www.OPTICSfor
the Hands on Optics program, a national middle-school science-
education program; the Education and Training in Optics & Photonics
(ETOP) conference; Educator’s Day; the Forum on Education;
local science fair sponsorship; and instructive materials such
as the Optics Discovery Kit and educational videos.
OSA also provides
several career services, including WORKinOP
TICS.com, one of the
field’s leading online search engines featuring optics-related
job postings, a resume bank, and consultant listings. The society
also manages career centers during OFC and CLEO, complete with
resume distribution, online posting, on-site interviews, and career
The recently formed OSA Foundation supports the society’s
philanthropic activities. Programs in 2003 consist of support for
professional and student scientists in developing countries, outreach
to young students and grade-school teachers, services for university
students and advisors, and a special-purpose fund that allows donors
to specify what their contributions will support. The society’s
public-policy program promotes the interests of optical science
and engineering with the U.S. Congress and federal agencies.
Optical Society of America is a thriving organization, dedicated
to the advancement of its field and to the professional development
of its members. For more information about OSA programs and services,
and to join the society, please visit www.osa.org or call 202-416-1437.
Colleen Morrison is media relations
manager for the Optical Society of America in Washington, D.C.