Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellowship

The Optical Society/SPIE


Term: 2017-2018
Tanya Das


Tanya Das expects to receive her Ph.D. this summer in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) where she works in the lab of Professor Jon Schuller. Her research in the field of metamaterials explores new ways to manipulate light using nanoparticles by changing a property of light known as polarization. She received her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. 

In addition to her research, Tanya explores issues in STEM education through her work in program evaluation. She has undertaken projects to evaluate the effectiveness of new teaching methods in undergraduate engineering courses at UCSB as well as the effectiveness of programs that aim to increase retention and graduation rates of STEM undergraduate students who come from minority and low income backgrounds. She was also part of the Workforce Development team for the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics), where she helped to assess workforce needs in the photonics industry.

Additionally, Tanya is committed to serving her community through her volunteer work. She founded a poetry workshop for criminal teens at the local Santa Barbara juvenile probation center and volunteered at community science events including the annual Santa Barbara junior high science fair, Family Science Exploration nights, and Women in Photonics Week. She has held leadership roles in UCSB student organizations including the Photonics Society, the Beyond Academia conference organizing committee, and Graduate Students for Diversity in Science.

Tanya is very excited to serve as the 2017-2018 Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellowship, and looks forward to working on policy issues related to STEM education, workforce development, and optics and photonics technologies. She hopes to use her experiences from the fellowship to pursue a career as a policy analyst, to help the federal legislative body make informed policy decisions.