It’s hard to believe we’re just about midway through 2021 already. A lot has happened in the past six months, and it looks as if a whole lot more is to come in the next six. I’m sad to say that there have been many tragedies in this timespan, and our hearts go out to those who have experienced this sadness and suffering. In moments like these, I’m reminded of a quote from Thích Nhâ´t Ha·nh: “Without suffering, there’s no happiness. So we shouldn’t discriminate against the mud. We have to learn how to embrace and cradle our own suffering and the suffering of the world, with a lot of tenderness.” For those experiencing pain or suffering, I hope those words provide even a minute sense of solace. And, as a community, we are here to cradle tenderly that suffering, to nurture it to allow happiness to thrive. No one suffers alone, and collectively we will press forward, ever stronger.

And so on the other side of this coin is hope. As a scientific community, we have a lot to look forward to. For one, I’m writing to you on the International Day of Light, a celebration of the impact light and optics has on the whole of humanity. Moreover, another reason for celebration is the election of several of our members to the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, as well as the announcement of our new Distinguished Lecturers. Congratulations to them all!

Accompanying this ramping up in activity is a deluge of conferences. The adjusted schedule of 2021 has CLEO, OFC, Summer Topicals, RAPID, ECOC, and many others taking place within about a four month span. CLEO kicks off this conference marathon, and it’s the highlight of this issue. Our dedicated and diligent editors Ivana Gasulla and Alex Yasha Yi worked overtime to provide highlights and insights from conference chairs, speakers, and participants to you in the most timely and expedient manner. We hope you enjoy reading about the exciting events and talks!

As always, there’s much more to this issue than I can cover in this small space, including many more events, interviews, and advice columns. However, one that I’d briefly like to highlight is the “Iluminando el Futuro” STEM Initiative. This is a wonderfully ambitious and far-reaching project that seeks to improve community STEM outreach in Latin America. It’s a great example of the philanthropic work of our Society’s members and an excellent model for others looking to make an impact.

With that, as usual, I will close by thanking you for reading the Newsletter and ask that you reach out to us with questions, comments, and suggestions. We look forward to hearing from you!