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Choosing the Right Research Group for Your PhD

By Yoshi Okawachi, 2017 Ambassador, United States | Posted: 9 August 2017

The PhD journey is incredibly rewarding but also filled with many roadblocks and frustrations along the way. Unlike undergraduate studies, where the curriculum is set, the PhD program is much less defined. You are thrown into the research group without well-defined responsibilities and expectations and you are expected to figure it out along the way. Here a few things, based on recent conversations with graduate students and professors, that could get your PhD career off to a good start. 

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My First Trip as an OSA Ambassador

By Rim Cherif, 2017 OSA Ambassador, Tunisia | Posted: 8 May 2017

I arrived in Beijing on 20 April after a 23 hour long trip. While I was tired from the travel, I met with Aixin Zhang, PhD student at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Physics (IOP) and President of the OSA Student Chapter who took me to IOP. I was welcomed by Professor Ling-An Wu, Chapter Advisor, and was impressed by the huge building and hospitality of all the professors and students. I first gave my scientific talk on ‘Supercontinuum Generation in Photonic Crystal Fibers’, which was attended by students and professors from different groups. After my presentation, I had a very constructive discussion with the audience followed by a pizza party. Aixin presented on the activities of the IOP-OSA Student Chapter and the plan for the upcoming activities. This was the perfect transition to my second lecture ‘About OSA and Student Chapter Management’. We discussed various issues namely: how to maintain a chapter in a good standing and how to write chapter grants. Most of the students wanted to learn what makes an event receive grant funding or not and were looking for advice on the overall process. I discussed with them the difference between small and large impact-type events and gave them examples with very specific details such as the number of attendees, program, lecturers, etc.  Following my lectures, I had an interesting discussion with Professor Wei Ding about nonlinear optics followed by a lab tour. I was impressed with the facilities and the equipments especially the new setup for THz devices. After 7 hours spent at IOP, I had the opportunity to share a typical dinner ‘‘Hot pot’‘ with Aixin during which she introduced me to the education system in China, how to get in the PhD program, and the perspectives of jobs after graduating.

Photo credit : Rim Cherif (Left to Right : Professor Ling-An Wi, OSA Ambassador Rim Cherif, and OSA Student President Aixin Zhang)

 

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Traveling Lecturer: Learning Beyond the Lab

By Lund University OSA Student Chapter, Sweden | Posted: 2 March 2017

Antigone presented her 'skill bill' lecture about the importance of developing additional skills during your education and career in order to further it. The reasons and the way of furthering were not the classical idea of financial gain or prestige but more about your personal best and what you as individuals would be happiest doing as well as how to further the quality of the work. 

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Traveling Lecturer: Late Night Conversations turn to Collaboration

By Antigone Marino, Institute of Applied Sciences and Intelligent Systems, Italy | Posted: 27 February 2017

A few month ago I was in Rochester, NY for FiO2016. The meeting agenda was so busy, like always it is. Although tired, the day always ended with a group of us chatting in the hotel lobby about optics, science and life. As if all of us wanted to draw as much as possible on the opportunity of being there. A few months later, I received an invitation to visit the Lund OSA Chapter in Sweden. I had to arrive in Sweden to realize that the invitation was coming up from one of this moment in FiO, in which you meet someone new, without having the possibility to deepen into a topic or a friendship.

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2017 Special Program Grant Recipients - Round 1

By Jennifer Mehltretter, Education Program Manager | Posted: 5 January 2017



OSA would like to congratulate the following student chapters and local sections on receiving the Special Program Grant. This grant awards up to $1,500 USD for high impact youth education/community outreach or professional development events. Chapters and sections went through a vigorous application and review process and we are thrilled with this first round of winners and their accomplishments.
 

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An Push For Photonics

By Michigan Technological University (MTU) Student Chapter of OSA | Posted: 1 December 2016

On 10 November 2016, the Michigan Technological University (MTU) Student Chapter of OSA hosted a campus-wide outreach event with invited speakers representing a broad range of career paths within the field of photonics. Attending students had the opportunity to interact one-on-one with industry contacts and academic researchers across multiple disciplines. Student resumes and CVs were furnished to those who presented in exchange for their time and information regarding their respective institutions.

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From Engineer to Career: How to Become a Successful Professional

By Volker Sorger, George Washington University | Posted: 7 November 2016



Every student is concerned with one and the same detail: to get a good job and be a successful professional. The Arizona chapter invited me to not talk about my groups nanophotonic research which focuses on novel opto-electronic device physics, emerging material such as TMDs and TCOs, and plasmonics. Here, I was asked to talk about what it takes to be successful after graduation. I broke this question down into thee aspects:

  1. Knowing the Rules
  2. Knowing Yourself
  3. Starting your Path
We learn the details of physics, optics, and electronics in school. But we seldom learn rules of how-to-get-the-job, or what the other side looks for. Graduating from a top university essentially guarantees an interview, but it does not guarantee the job offer. Hence the question arises, how to get the offer? First of all, we need to recognize that all decision on hiring (after an interview) and promotions are made by humans, and not machines. In fact, 75% of hiring decisions are made based on ‘finding-a-good-match’, rather than technical skills. Interestingly, the situation is rather similar to dating; both sides find each other interesting, but are unsure whether they want to be proceed together. The job interview is therefore more likely like dating, and knowing the rules is key. 

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Lab Visits - An Investment That Is Worth It

By Chad Husko, Argonne National Laboratory | Posted: 2 November 2016

Dear OSA members,
 
This is the fourth in a series of blog posts I’m writing throughout 2016 in my role as OSA Ambassador. You can find earlier posts on visits to Barcelona and Quebec, and OSA FiberTech in Sydney.


 
In this post I will discuss a recent trip Down Under to visit our colleagues at the University of Queensland and Griffith University in Brisbane. This follows on from attending the OSA conference in Sydney.

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Coming Back to the Down Under

By Chad Husko, Argonne National Laboratory | Posted: 26 October 2016

​Hey there!
This is the third in a series of blog posts I’m writing throughout 2016 in my role as OSA Ambassador. You can find earlier posts on visits to Barcelona and Quebec.
 
In this post I will discuss a recent trip Down Under to attend the OSA Photonics and Fiber Technology conference in Sydney. I worked at the University of Sydney for four years, so this was a bit of a homecoming for me.

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Waves and Structured Materials

By University of North Carolina - Charlotte | Posted: 6 October 2016

On June 3rd 2016, a large number of optics faculty, students and industry leaders descended on UNC Charlotte for a special one-time workshop on “Waves and Structured Materials”. The workshop was designed to be informal and allow plenty of time for discussion and networking with those who attended.



The keynote invited speakers were Dr. Phil Russell, Max Planck Institute who spoke on “The Multi-Faceted World of Photonic Crystal Fibers”; Dr. David Smith, Duke U. “Metamaterials and Metasurfaces: Emerging Opportunities for Controlling Light with Structured Media”; Dr. Warren Warren, Duke U. “From diagnosing melanoma to saving cultural heritage: how nonlinear optical imaging transforms the world” Dr. Greg Gbur, UNC Charlotte, “PT Symmetry in Optics”; Dr. Jacob Khurgin, Johns Hopkins University, “New Plasmonic Materials”.

The workshop began with an overview of the Charlotte Research Institute (CRI) by its Director, Dr. Bruce LaMattinna, and a presentation by Navid Farahi, OSA Student Chapter President, which highlighted the many events and outreach achievements this very active chapter had accomplished during the prior 12 months. Notably, the Chapter won the UNCC award for the best student organization on campus, from more than 200, because of its accomplishments and strong leadership. The student chapter and all of those attending this workshop are extremely grateful to OSA for its constant support for the student chapter and for its generosity in supporting this very rewarding event. We would like to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate OSA on its 100 years as a professional society promoting optics and supporting the optics community.

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Working In Optics

By Aline Dinkelaker, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Posted: 25 July 2016

The career event “Working in Optics in Berlin” took place on 15 June at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and was funded by the OSA Ambassador Program. It was organized by Aline Dinkelaker, OSA Ambassador, and the student chapter BerlinOptik. More than 80 participants registered to attend the event, with participants from each of the three universities in Berlin as well as from other cities. 

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Leading PhD Students to the Path of Industry

By Washington State University OSA Student Chapter | Posted: 13 May 2016

According to a study by The Royal Society, less than 1% of current PhD graduates will become tenured professors. Moreover, approximately 30% of PhD graduates will be unemployed upon graduation. To combat a more competitive job market and fewer academic jobs, Washington State University’s OSA/SPIE student chapter focuses on professional development. Through OSA’s Traveling Lecturer Program, WSU OSA/SPIE hosted Phillip J. Wyatt, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Wyatt Technology Corporation. As an industry professional, Dr. Wyatt spoke to transferable skills, job hunting in industry, and what a career in industry really entails.

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Motivating to Pursue Your Dreams

By International School of Photonics Student Chapter | Posted: 12 April 2016

Professor Kishan Dholakia’s visit was really a great experience for the students of International School of Photonics. His lectures were really informative and impressive speaking on the scale of his presentation skills. There were three illuminating lectures, each of them being interesting in its own ways as the titles: 1. Lights, Camera, Action: Optics in Healthcare, 2. Shaped Beams and Applications for Biomedical Imaging, 3. Let Light Move You: Optical Manipulation.

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