Welcome to the final issue of the Newsletter for 2021! I’m writing this on the day after American Thanksgiving, and, in the spirit of reflecting on gratitude, I’m certainly thankful for this inspiring and supportive community. This was a year of many accomplishments in unprecedented times. To me, some of the most impressive feats were achieved by our chapters and conferences, which found new ways to engage the community. I have a feeling the incredibly challenging work done by these groups over the past year or two will have an impact for many many years to come.

In this issue, we say a fond farewell to President Carmen Menoni. Prof. Menoni was faced with the challenge of the pandemic at the very start of her tenure as president, and she handled it deftly. She, along with the Board of Governors, the Photonics Society staff, the Councils and Committees, and many volunteers and members, took this incredibly negative state of the world and found new opportunities for growth. We at the Newsletter would like to thank Prof. Menoni for her leadership, and we look forward to her continuing support and guidance in her role as Past President.

The research highlight in this edition, written by Dr. Akhil Kallepalli and colleagues, describes experimental and theoretical methods for evaluating the optical properties of living models of human skin. Human skin equivalents (HSEs), as they’re called, are useful in the medical field for surgical and wound healing procedures. However, for the best results, HSEs must behave optically like true human skin. Dr. Kallepalli and his collaborators describe how they’re applying optical simulation and metrology methods to ensure HSEs will have the right properties to precisely mimic skin.

Finally, as always we have highlighted many of the recent events and accomplishments within the Society. Several conferences were recently held, so please check out the highlights from ISLC, ETOP, and ACP. Additionally, we congratulate many of our members and chapters for their accomplishments, including the recipients of this year’s chapter awards and the newly elected members of the Board of Governors. And be sure to check out the events held by and profiles of our outstanding members and leaders.

In closing, thank you for reading the Newsletter, and please get in touch with us (ipsnewsletter@ieee.org). It’s been a great pleasure serving as the Editor-in-Chief this past year, and we’ve got exciting plans for 2022… stay tuned! Until then, have a safe and happy end of 2021!