As the end of 2021 approaches, so does my term as President of the IEEE Photonics Society. I would like to thank the Photonics community for the opportunity to have served as your President for the last two years. It has been an honor to contribute to advance the efforts of the IEEE Photonics Society in supporting its members through conferences, membership development, and publications.

The priorities and activities in my role as President had to be redefined, as two months into the position in 2020, all activities turned virtual. Thus, I have missed the opportunity to meet and interact with the Photonics community at conferences or through chapter visits. At the same time, there were many challenges that had to be addressed. The inability to travel set precedence in devising new strategies on how conferences would continue. Starting in May 2020 and until today, the Photonics Society conferences have been virtual. I am sure you are of the same opinion as me, that an in-person conference is not a comparison to a virtual conference, in the same way that listening to a symphony at a concert hall has no comparison to the best sound system. Conferences are the venues for interaction, discussion, where one gets new ideas, and makes one’s work known. Conferences offer the possibility for students and young professionals to be exposed to a broad range of topics in Photonics, to interact with the authors of papers they read, to present their work, and be recognized for their contributions. Conferences are the venue where we recognize the technical contributions and advancements of the community.

I would like to acknowledge the dedication of the organizing committees of IEEE Summer Topicals, IEEE RAPID
and the IEEE Photonics Conference, as well as the steering committees of the Conference of Lasers and Electro-Optics
(CLEO) and Optical Fiber Conference (OFC), who over the last two years have worked diligently to organize and deliver the high-quality virtual conferences. I would also like to acknowledge Prof. Perry Shum, Vice President for Conferences, the members of Conference Council, and of the IEEE Photonics Conference Steering Committee for their leadership in identifying new opportunities to engage participants and streamline efforts throughout this temporary transition to a virtual platform. Conference staff, Alicia Zupeck and Cheryl Scott, have been instrumental in supporting conferences in every aspect.

My focus over the last two years has been in increasing the visibility of the Society’s products, with emphasis on publications. Towards this goal, supported by staff members Kristen Mahan and Kerrianne Sullivan, we started active marketing campaigns, intensified outreach through social network platforms and began constructing a new Society website. In turn, there is an active campaign in place to promote the visibility of journal articles and new analytical processes that enable the Society to track the success or not of promotions.

Emphasis has been placed on the IEEE Photonics Journal, which is the lead open access platform for the IEEE Photonics Society. Editor-in-Chief, Prof. Gabriella Cincotti, has been instrumental in broadening the technical content of the Journal by expanding the editorial board and increasing the journal’s visibility. Towards making IEEE Photonics Journal compliant with the requirements of Plan S, the Board of Governors recently approved a financial model, which eliminates additional page charges and offers a highly competitive, reduced publication rate for IEEE Societies’ members. Marketing efforts are also being implemented with the other hybrid journals of the Society, emphasizing special topic issues, and issues linked to conferences. A fluent interaction among the editors-in-chief and conferences’ organizing committees is key to the success of this enterprise. My thanks go to the Vice President for Publication, Prof. Seb Savory, to the Publication Council members, and to the editors-in-chief who are leading publication efforts. This group is supported by the Publication Staff, Yvette Charles, Doug Hargis, Sylvia Hinkson,and Chin Tan Lutz, who are well experienced and extremely dedicated.

In parallel, we continued to streamline the society’s conference portfolio trying to consolidate small conferences into the IEEE Photonics Conference. In this way, it will be possible to capture in a ‘Photonics Week’ event the broad areas of interest to the Photonics community. At a time in which travel has become a serious consideration, on one side due to Covid restrictions and on the other due to environmental concerns, consolidating conferences is critical. I hope this message resonates with you because the success of such efforts relies on the support of the Photonics community.

Another one of my goals was to increase our diversity and outreach efforts. In these areas there have been impressive progress, such as funding over 18 major IEEE Women in Photonics programs and a comprehensive “Iluminando El Futuro” project in Latin America (Region 9). The virtual environment provided a fruitful venue to increase interaction with members of the community worldwide, and in particular students members through an eMentor Match program. In 2021 alone, the abundant activities
led by chapters reached ~18,000 participants in 22 countries.

Membership is led by the Vice President for Membership, Dr. Fatima Gunning, who is supported by the Membership Council, and the Education, Diversity Oversight and Globalization committees. As reported by MGA, significant membership growth in 2021 helped put IEEE on the path to recovery from 2020 pandemic losses and organization-wide retention rates are at the highest level in five years. The IEEE Photonics Society contributed with a YoY membership growth of 16.6%—one of the highest growth rates amongst IEEE Societies. Other efforts coming out of membership in 2021 include a podcast series and the transitioning of the Newsletter to an online format with expanded capabilities that you will enjoy. Staff, Lauren Mecum-Smith and Lisa Sandt, are extremely experienced in engagement and tirelessly support our members. Thanks to all for your dedication!

2021 brought some changes in the Society’s organization. The Vice President for Technical Affairs role was redefined into the Vice President for Professional & Technical Development. With this new scope, we strive to provide enhanced support to young professionals through career enhancement and leadership skills growth, and by providing more opportunities to showcase talent and interactions with the community-at-large. Vice President for Professional & Technical Development Prof. Anna Peacock, staff lead Kristen Mahan, and the Council, conformed by chairs from four committees Standards, Industry Engagement, Young Professionals Advisory Professional Advancement and by a task force for Emerging Technologies, have been busy devising new initiatives in 2021 to define the scope and strategic reach. The close interaction with Membership has also been very beneficial to define and streamline such activities. Thanks to all for the great progress in this first year!

The President represents the Board of Governors (BoG), who is the governing branch of the Society. BoG members, including Elected Members selected by you, convene over issues and ideas, in combination with Councils, to delineate where the society needs to devote efforts and resources. It has been a privilege to work alongside such a talented and dedicated group of BoG members throughout these two years. The ability to effectively conduct BoG and Executive Committee meetings in a virtual platform was a learning experience, from the coordination of the meetings across varying time zones to developing ways to ensure that every member had opportunities to let her/his/ their opinions be heard. I would like to thank Karen Mergner who throughout these two years supported me in every aspect.

In my many volunteering activities with the Photonics Society and the IEEE, several of the past presidents have served as my role models. In particular, I would like to thank Prof. Chennupati Jagadish, 2020–2021 Past President, for his sound
advice and guidance during these two years in which the Society had to endure new challenges. Multiple conversations with IEEE Communications Society President, Prof. Vincent Chan, helped me learn how sister societies were handling similar issues we were confronting, and the possibilities we had at hand. Working along with Executive Director, Doug Razzano, across the issues that needed the most attention has been invaluable. Doug brings to the Society a wealth of expertise. He is on top of every detail of the IEEE Photonics Society’s efforts and keeps financials well managed.

There is certainly much more to do towards enhancing the Society’s reach and impact on the Photonics community. The reality we lived over these past two years taught us it is possible to communicate and interact via online platforms effectively, when these activities are time bounded. Thus, new opportunities are opening to reinvent how to cater to the Photonics professional community-at-large. These are indeed very exciting times!

I pass along the lead role of President of the Society to my colleague Dr. Rene Essiambre who has been an Elected Member and an accomplished volunteer for many years, serving conference steering committees, publications, as Vice President of Membership 2017–2019, and Chair of the Society’s Globalization committee. Rene will bring to the Society the perspective of industry members, as he is a Distinguished Researcher at Nokia Labs.

I would also like to welcome Prof. Zetian Mi as the new Vice President for Conferences. Zetian has extensive experience in conference organization, including serving as General Chair of the IEEE Photonics Conference. This coupled with his recognized technical contributions to photonics materials and devices will contribute to shape the path forward in conferences with the opportunity to broaden their reach.

Farewell, esteemed colleagues! It has been a privilege to serve as your President over the last two years, and I look forward to serving as your Past President from 2022–2023. We are in an exciting technical field that has enormous potential and that impacts society in so many different ways. I look forward to interacting with all of you in the near future through the many different venues the Photonics Society offers.

With Warm Regards,
Carmen S. Menoni
President (2020–2021)
IEEE Photonics Society