OSA Foundation Awards First Annual Paul A. Bonenfant Memorial Scholarship


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact:
Angela Stark
The Optical Society
202.416.1443
astark@osa.org

OSA Foundation Awards First Annual Paul A. Bonenfant Memorial Scholarship


Stephanie Laga
2013 Paul A. Bonenfant Memorial Scholarship Winner Stephanie Laga of Caltech.
WASHINGTON, June 28, 2013—The OSA Foundation today announced Stephanie Laga of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) as the winner of the first Paul A. Bonenfant Memorial Scholarship.  The scholarship, which honors the late optical communications expert and Morgan Keegan analyst Paul Bonenfant, was established in 2011 and is given annually to an undergraduate student enrolled in an engineering or physical science program to attend a semester-abroad program offered through their accredited college or university. The goal of the scholarship is to provide international experience to students as they prepare for professional lives that promote global engagement and collaboration.

Applications for the scholarship are reviewed by the Bonenfant Memorial Scholarship Committee.  Undergraduate students applying for the scholarship must meet specific criteria, including pre-acceptance into a study-abroad program offered by their university, demonstrated interest in optics-related research and applications, financial need and a minimum grade point average of 3.0.  Applications are judged on a combination of academic excellence, the need for financial support and the quality of the application submitted.  The $8,000 scholarship will rotate among several universities in the United States. 

Laga, who will begin her senior year at Caltech this fall, is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry, with an interest in inorganic chemistry, including its applications to optics. Laga will use the Bonenfant Scholarship to study abroad at the University of Melbourne in Australia this fall, where she will take courses in photomolecular science, and supramolecular and structural inorganic chemistry, as well as participate in a chemistry research project.  In addition to her studies at Caltech, Laga is an active volunteer with Juice from Juice—a National Science Foundation outreach program in which college students mentor high school students and teachers on how to construct and use dye-sensitized solar cells and water splitting apparatuses.

“Stephanie’s enthusiasm for the physical sciences and especially optics was evident in her application for the scholarship,” said Maria Pontones-Bonenfant, chair of the scholarship’s selection committee and wife of Paul Bonenfant. “The committee was impressed with the demonstrated leadership in her research work as well as extracurricular activities. This combination of skills is one that mirrored Paul’s professional strengths and one that the committee felt stood out in Stephanie’s application.  She is a prime example of an enthusiastic young scientist who is poised to serve the international scientific community in various capacities throughout her career.  We are thrilled to offer the inaugural Bonenfant Scholarship to Stephanie and look forward to hearing about her experiences abroad.”

Bonenfant was a dedicated member of the technical program committee for the Optical Fiber Communication Conference (OFC) and speaker at OFC for many years. He spent his career in various capacities from engineering to investment banking, and recognized the critical need for international experiences to promote global engagement and collaboration and expand an individual’s total worldview.

Funding and Sponsorship

Funding for the Paul A. Bonenfant Memorial Scholarship is supported through donations from generous individuals and organizations. Contributions help provide $8,000 annually for the scholarship. Donations to the Bonenfant Scholarship are accepted on the OSA Foundation website.

About the OSA Foundation

The OSA Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation established by the Optical Society (OSA) in 2002 to carry out charitable activities that support OSA’s mission of promoting the generation, application, archiving and worldwide dissemination of knowledge in optics and photonics. The Foundation helps cultivate the next generation of leaders and innovators in the optics and photonics community as they move through advanced degree programs and become active members of research and engineering communities around the globe. The Foundation also works to secure OSA Awards and Honors program endowments. To date, the Foundation has awarded more than 800 grants, scholarships, and prizes benefiting thousands of individuals in more than 55 countries. Donations to the OSA Foundation are matched dollar-for-dollar by OSA. For more information, visit www.osa.org/foundation.