Skip to main content

Women in Optics Scholarship

The foundation is launching the Women in Optics Scholarship program to support professional development in our field. The goal is to reduce financial hurdles and barriers, allowing talented researchers worldwide to focus on their academic experience. We are currently seeking ten US$100K pledges to fully fund this program.

First Recipients

As an initial launch and pilot, two scholarships were offered to  University of Arizona students in 2020. Thanks to the generous contributions of Janet Fender (1997 OSA President) and John Otten III and  James Wyant (2021 OSA President) and Tammy Orr for funding these students.

Madeline Bergay

Madeline Bergay, University of Arizona

Sarina Grijalva

Sarina Grijalva, University of Arizona

Scholarship Overview


The WIO Scholarship program will provide visibility, community, and resources for women in optics and photonics via financial support, professional development and the establishment of a global network as they enter the field. The scholarship is awarded based on need, academic performance, and demonstrated potential. Recipients of a WIO Scholarship will be eligible to apply for continued funding of their Bachelor's and Master's education.

Our goal is to establish a US$2M fund to provide 20 scholarships annually at US$10K each. By 2030, 200 scholarships will be awarded.

Mentorship and Networking for Scholars

We believe the program's value is compounded by the connections awardees make in addition to the financial benefits they receive. The program will include a mentorship program connecting scholarship awardees with a mentor(s) at a different university or within a company. We intend to leverage Mentorloop, a software to make connections and manage progress and access to training we provide across our programs to support these interactions. Besides the one-on-one mentor/mentee connections, we will create an alumni network with online and in-person networking opportunities for scholarship winners. Through their participation in these networking events, awardees will receive unique invitations to engage with OSA governance and volunteer activities.

Funding and Pledge Payments

The foundation seeks ten US$100K pledges. Each commitment will be matched, doubling the contribution to US$200K. When the promise is signed, the full match is immediately invested in the scholarship program (i.e., a US$100K pledge paid down over three years would be US$133K for the fund in year one.) This allows the OSAF to begin distributing scholarships this year. The OSAF direct match offer is available until 31 July 2021.

The foundation's standard pledge payment plan is three-five years, with each payment made by or before 31 December. Alternative arrangements are available at a donor's request.

All donations, matched funds and investment returns will be allocated to the scholarship program. Scholarship funds will be expended within ten years; however, networking,  professional development and engagement with scholarship winners will continue throughout their careers. OSA covers the administration, labor and overhead costs for the foundation.

Announcement of Scholarships and Donor Visibility

We will communicate the scholarship opportunities to the global optics and photonics community. Partnerships with educational institutions will include agreements to advertise the scholarships on websites and other sources frequently viewed by students. Scholarship recipients will be selected by a foundation-appointed committee. Donor and contributor names will be associated with the program unless anonymity is requested.

Founding Contributors (US$100,000 Donations)


Janet Fender

Janet Fender, 2003 President & Fellow
John Otten, Fellow

Elizabeth Rogan

Elizabeth Rogan, OSA CEO & Fellow




Facebook company





Source Photonics


Additional Contributors

  • James Wyant & Tammy Orr
  • Edmund Optics