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Light the Future

Imagine self-driving cars, 3D printing and a billion pixel camera. One hundred years ago these inventions were unthinkable. Yet today, researchers and industry leaders around the globe are perfecting such innovations that once were the realm of science fiction.

To celebrate The Optical Society’s 100th anniversary, OSA established the Light The Future speaker series at eight international events in 2016 for conference attendees, invited guests and the local community. The program which features visionaries, futurists and Nobel Prize winners who will bring an illuminating topic alive will continue in 2018.

Past Speakers

26 June 2018

Jason Eichenholz

Jason Eichenholz

Co-Founder and CTO, Luminar Technologies 
OSA Imaging Congress, Orlando, Florida, USA

9 April 2018

Nergis Mavalvala

Nergis Mavalvala

LIGO Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology 
OSA Winter Leadership Conference, Washington, DC, USA

8 February 2017

Walter Isaacson

Walter Isaacson

President and CEO of the Aspen Institute, and best-selling author
OSA Winter Leadership Conference, Washington, DC, USA

5 December 2016:

David Payne

Prof. Sir David Payne

University of Southampton, Highfield and OSA Fellow
Photonics India, Kanpur, India

3 November 2016:

Stephen Chu

Steven Chu

Nobel Laureate, former U.S Secretary of Energy and OSA Fellow
Asia Communications and Photonics Conference, Wuhan, China

20 October 2016:

Michio Kaku

Michio Kaku

Futurist and theoretical physicist, City College of New York, with Sir Peter L. Knight, emeritus professor, Imperial College, London, OSA Fellow.  

"Optics of the Future: Exploring the Universe and the Brain"
Frontiers in Optics Conference & Exhibition (FiO/LS), Rochester, New York, USA

This program also featured a special Ignite the Future segment where predictions of what’s next in optics were be given by Nobel Prize winners, including Nicolaas Bloembergen, Robert F. Curl, Roy J. Glauber,  John L. Hall, W.E. Moerner, William D. Phillips and David J. Wineland.  

24 August 2016:


Susana Marcos

Professor of Research, Instituto de Óptica, Consejo Superior Investigaciones Cientificas, Spain and OSA Fellow

"An Eye into the Future"
Latin American Optics and Photonics Conference (LAOP), Jartin Botanico, Orquideorama 

26 July 2016:

Joseph Izatt

Joseph Izatt

Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Duke University, and OSA Fellow

"Lighting up the Future of Medical Imaging and Image-guided Therapy"

Bernard Kress

Bernard Kress

Partner Optical Architect, Microsoft

"The Light Years Ahead: How Today's Promising Augmented and Virtual Reality Markets Help Shape new Optics Frontiers"
Imaging & Applied Optics Congress, Heidelberg, Germany

8 June 2016:

Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil

Inventor, author, futurist, with Steven Chu, Nobel Laureate, former U.S. Secretary of Energy and OSA Fellow

"Business and Society in the Age of Accelerating Returns"
CLEO 2016, San Jose Convention Center, San Jose, California, USA

23 March 2016:  

Mary Lou Jepsen

Mary Lou Jepsen

Executive director of engineering, Facebook, OSA Fellow, with Alan Willner, OSA President and OSA Fellow
OFC Conference & Exhibition, Anaheim, California, USA

9 February 2016:  

Ira Flatow

Ira Flatow

Broadcast journalist and host of Science Friday
The Optical Society Centennial Kickoff Celebration, Washington, DC, USA (invitation only)

For inquiries, please contact Most presentations will be recorded and available at or on The Optical Society’s YouTube channel.