The Optical Society to Celebrate 100 Years in 2016

The Optical Society Celebrates 100 Years in 2016

WASHINGTON - Optics and photonics technologies empower nearly every aspect of our daily lives and are at the core of many scientific advancements in medicine and health, telecommunications, homeland security and consumer technology. At the heart of this thriving sector is The Optical Society, which celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2016. This milestone marks a century of powering optics and photonics by inspiring the study and application of these technologies. 

“The Optical Society was created 100 years ago in an environment where scientific collaboration was a challenge,”said Elizabeth Rogan, CEO of The Optical Society. “Our founders saw the need to bring together the best scientific minds in industry and academia to share ideas in pursuit of technological breakthroughs. Today, The Optical Society serves as a global catalyst for the science of light. Many scientific and engineering advancements have been achieved by the 270,000 scientists, students and business leaders who make invaluable contributions to our society.”

Over the last century, the importance of optics and photonics is seen through advances in science, technology, medicine and the quality of life. Optical equipment and technology were critical components of the U.S. Apollo program, which culminated in the first steps by humans on the moon. The laser, which placed optics at the center of a technological revolution, has become an integral part of our lives with applications in consumer electronics, communications, sensors and medicine. Throughout the Centennial, The Optical Society will honor the significance of these advancements and others while also empowering the next generation of optics and photonics leaders. 

“The Centennial is not only an opportunity to capture the legacy of the Society and the optics field, but also a chance to explore the future of these exciting technologies,” stated Alan E. Willner, 2016 President of The Optical Society and Steven & Kathryn Sample Chair in Engineering, University of Southern California, California, USA. “In the years ahead, the field of optics has tremendous potential to address challenges such as supporting health and medicine as well as the continued exponential growth of the Internet. We are only at the beginning of what optics technology can do, and The Optical Society and its members will continue to be at the forefront of advancing the science of light.”

The Optical Society’s Centennial Advisory Panel, chaired by Dr. Chris Dainty, Professorial Research Associate at the Institute of Ophthalomolgy, University College London, have been working with staff and OSA volunteeers to develop a year-long series of programs and products to commemorate 100 years. These include a quarterly booklet series in Optics & Photonics News (OPN), the launch of a Centennial microsite, “Century of Optics” and “OSA 100” books, and celebrations at U.S. and international meetings including FiO, The Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exhibition (OFC) and Latin America Optics & Photonics Conference (LAOP). Other Centennial activities will feature the unveiling of a special exhibit, giveaways, receptions, travel grants, traveling lectures and much more. 

Throughout 2016, the Society will invite visionaries, futurists, Nobel Prize winners and others in the optics and photonics fields to join the “Light the Future Speaker Series.” These discussions — open to the public — will be part of several meetings in the United States and across the globe, offering an opportunity to hear directly from those that are paving the way for another century of innovation in light such as one of the world’s leading futurists 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) , Princeton University and New York University as well as co-creator of string field theory.

About The Optical Society
Founded in 1916, The Optical Society (OSA) is the leading professional organization for scientists, engineers, students and entrepreneurs 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. For more information, visit

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., Topica Photonics, Inc., Trumpf, Inc., Business Wire, Laser Focus World and Photonics Media.

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