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The Optical Society Concludes Year-Long Centennial Celebration

One hundred years elapsed between Albert Einstein’s prediction of gravitational waves and the stunning observation of the phenomenon by a global collaboration of more than 1,000 LIGO scientists using incredibly sensitive antennas built of mirrors and lasers. The Optical Society was founded in 1916, the same year as Einstein’s prediction, with the mission of supporting the development of the optical sciences. As is the case with many scientific achievements, this recent milestone in understanding the fabric of space-time draws upon innumerable theoretical, observational and technological optical innovations. Today, the members of The Optical Society (OSA) continue into the next century with their quest for more significant achievements in the science of light.

“Much has transpired in optics and photonics over the last 100 years and our Centennial was a reflection of this innovative past,” said Elizabeth Rogan, CEO of The Optical Society. “I would like to thank the volunteers who served on our Centennial Advisory Panel, our members around the world who celebrated with us and the staff who made this year unforgettable.”

Alan E. Willner, 2016 President of The Optical Society and Steven & Kathryn Sample Chair in Engineering, University of Southern California, USA stated, “What a year it has been! OSA volunteers and staff made our Centennial year a special and memorable one. Our global community celebrated with many exciting events to recognize our remarkable institution. The first 100 years of OSA provide an inspiration for us all on our past and present impact, and we stand proudly today with over 20,000 members worldwide.”

Chris Dainty, Centennial Advisory Panel Chair, 2011 OSA President and Professor, University College London, UK remarked, “The Centennial has continually exceeded my expectations. We set out two years ago in an effort to capture and preserve the last 100 years of OSA history. We executed on this plan in order to inspire the next generation of OSA leadership and raise public awareness of the value of optics and photonics in everyday life.”

Highlights from the Centennial year

Century of Optics Exhibit
For 2016, OSA created a Century of Optics exhibit that showcased 100 iconic, forward-thinking moments in the science of light and The Optical Society’s history. The anchor and traveling exhibits were displayed at more than 25 global optics conferences and OSA meetings. At the conclusion of 2016, the anchor exhibit moved to the Rochester Museum and Science Center where it will be displayed through April 30, 2017. Other exhibits are on permanent display at 16 university partners in Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, Germany, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

OSA Century Publications
The OSA Century of Optics book presented a selection of people, events and technologies that were important to the evolution of optics, optical science, optical engineering and photonics. Several chapters were written by the original researchers and engineers who were seminal in making the discoveries. The book ends with eight prominent scientists, including Nobel Laureate Dr. Steven Chu, detailing the next 100 years in the field of optics and photonics.

Centennial Booklets
In recognition of OSA’s Centennial year, the OSA Publishing team created a series of four commemorative booklets. Together the booklets tell the Centennial story, in photos and other visuals, of OSA’s roots and evolution.

Light The Future
Throughout 2016, OSA hosted eight events with visionaries, futurists, Nobel Laureates and others with a program entitled the “Light the Future Speakers Series.” These public programs were part of several meetings worldwide. Speakers included futurists like Ray Kurzweil, Director of Engineering at Google and Trustee of MIT Corporation, and Michio Kaku, professor of theoretical physics at City College of New York (CUNY); seven Nobel Laureates as well as other luminaries in the field offered their predictions of future advancements in the optical sciences.

OSA Ambassadors
Mentorship and training of young professionals continued to grow in importance in 2016. The OSA Ambassador Program launched with its first class of 10 young professionals from around the world. As emerging leaders in the optics and photonics community, the OSA Ambassadors spent the year sharing their experiences and perspectives with students and other young professionals. They provided career advice, technical knowledge and mentorship to student chapters and local OSA sections. Learn more about the: OSA Ambassador Program.

OSA Foundation
The OSA Foundation provides training, mentoring, recognition, scholarships and travel grants as directed by individual and corporate donors. In 2016, the OSA Foundation received a US $1 million centennial donation from optics entrepreneur Milton Chang, Incubic Management, LLC. With this donation, new professional development programs will be offered to highlight potential career opportunities for technical professionals outside of the traditional role of industry, government or academic researcher.

About The Optical Society

Founded in 1916, The Optical Society (OSA) is the leading professional organization for scientists, engineers, students and business leaders who fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate achievements in the science of light. Through world-renowned publications, meetings and membership initiatives, OSA provides quality research, inspired interactions and dedicated resources for its extensive global network of optics and photonics experts. The Optical Society is a founding sponsor of the National Photonics Initiative. For more information, visit osa.org/100.

OSA 100 Centennial Sponsors

The Optical Society acknowledges the generosity of our corporate sponsors and media partners: Thorlabs, Inc., Corning, Inc., Edmund Optics, Go!Foton, Hamamatsu Corporation, IDEX Corporation, Navitar, Inc., OFS, Optimax Systems, RPC Photonics, Inc., Synopsys, Inc., Toptica Photonics, Inc., Trumpf, Inc., Business Wire, Laser Focus World and Photonics Media.

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