As I sit here considering how to introduce this month’s issue, I’m inevitably drawn to reflect that, for many (or really perhaps most or all) of us, it’s now been a year or more since “social distancing” rapidly evolved from an abstract concept to a very immediate and ever-present practice. At this point, it often feels more “normal” than the daily routine pre-COVID. It’s humbling how much can change, and be accomplished, in a single year. And on that latter sentiment is where I’d like to settle—it’s both reassuring and inspiring how adroitly people adapted to, and even how much people achieved, during these trying times. I’ve had the privilege of hearing about and seeing this strength in the members of our community, who have stepped up to the challenge with part scientific/technological contributions and part simple human compassion. It makes me very proud to be a member of this photonics community.
With that, I’d like first to draw your attention to a set of articles in this issue that highlight community members who embody this compassion and resilience. Naznin Akter, who is a regular contributor to the Newsletter and an inspiring, selfless volunteer for the Photonics Society and larger community overall, is the interviewee in the Young Professionals Spotlight. Also in the Membership section are reviews of a number of outreach activities—a “What Is Light?” workshop held by the UK and Ireland Chapter aimed at teaching young, curious minds about about the
wonders and possibilities of photonics; an Inter-College Olympiad in Cameroon to educate and test young people in optics; and a program organized by the Student Chapter at
Mangalam College of Engineering in India to teach women about LED lighting technology and related practical skills for the benefit of them and their communities. I highly recommend
these articles, especially if you’re looking for inspiration on how to engage in your community via photonics.
The Research Highlight this month, written by Mable Fok and Qidi Liu of the University of Georgia, describes RF Steganography inspired by the marine hatchetfish. I have to say, I learned a lot from their article, including the answers to the very basic questions, “What is steganography?” (answer: not some kind of dinosaur) and “What is the marine hatchetfish?” (answer: also not some kind of dinosaur). In all seriousness, it’s a fascinating example of finding inspiration for technology from nature. I truly did learn a lot, and reading it gave me the thrilling sense of the seemingly endless possibilities right in front of us if we just know where to look for them.
This issue is jam-packed with many more educational, fascinating, entertaining, and inspiring pieces. I’d love to list them all, but in the interest of letting you get to the heart of the
issue, I’ll just close by thanking all our contributors and asking that you, the reader, reach out to us with any feedback or contributions of your own. We look forward to hearing from you!