It is an honor to serve as the incoming President of the IEEE Photonics Society for 2022 and 2023. In this capacity, I am hoping to best serve our members and deliver on what they expect from a Society that represents them. In my new role, I will help a body of volunteer leaders accomplish their objectives with the support of the Society staff, who are instrumental to achieving our goals. I also wish to increase the visibility of the field of Photonics and bring together the technical community-at-large around the world.

I would like first to extend my gratitude to our Past-President, Carmen Menoni, who has been devoted to the IEEE Photonics Society and led it expertly in the very challenging environment of a worldwide pandemic of 2020 and 2021. Carmen will continue her involvement with the Society and chair Committees, such as the Strategic Planning Committee, whose charter is to help define the objectives of the Society in a time frame up to 5 years, and the Humanitarian & Public Imperative Committee. As Past-President, Carmen will continue to play the role of adviser and lead several special projects.

For the past 2 years, the worldwide pandemic has had a tremendous impact on our members and the Society. The scientific and technical conferences have been mostly virtual and other avenues for in-person interactions, such as at work, have been strongly curbed. This has limited the development of new networking opportunities, especially valuable for young researchers and students. Fortunately, the widespread availability of high-bandwidth communication has enabled more effective remote collaborations and reduced isolation. It is worth remembering that the democratization of high-speed communications is a direct consequence of photonics innovations, including the discovery of low-loss optical fibers, the invention of the laser, and the development of high-speed modulators and receivers to name a few. This is a collective accomplishment that the photonics community should be very proud of. It can also be a source of motivation to explore new frontiers with photonics!

I would like to welcome to the Board of Governors (BoG) our four newly Elected Members, Tom Clark, Amr Helmy, Roland Ryf and Elaine Wong, as well as our new Vice-President (VP) of Conferences, Zetian Mi. All are new BoG members starting in 2022.

This seems like a good opportunity to present the involvement of Society volunteers to the BoG structure. A chart of its voting members is displayed in the figure below. On even years, the BoG is composed of 19 voting members while on odd years, it is composed of 20, the additional member being the President-Elect. Each year, four new Elected Members are elected by the Society’s members, each with a mandate of 3 years. One of the most important missions of these Elected Members is to represent member views and interests. The four VPs oversee specific areas of the Society’s activities while the Secretary-Treasurer keeps track of financial conditions and reports them to the BoG. The Past-President develops a long-term view for the Society and provides advice to the current President. The President-Elect serves in a development role as an incoming President and assumes the role of the President once the position becomes vacant. The President’s role is to lead the BoG and bring forward the action items for discussion or vote. The Society’s staff provides the support needed for proper operation.

Caption: IEEE Photonics Board of Governors structure chart, as referred to in paragraph 5 of column.

The next conference of the Society is OFC’2022, from March 6 to 10, 2022, in San Diego, California. The format is hybrid, with in-person and virtual attendance. Exceptional measures are being put in place to ensure the safety of the in-person attendees and exhibitors. OFC events and show floor programs have also been expanded to meet the needs of both in-person attendees and those participating online. The Exhibition will encompass three theaters, Market Watch, a Network Operator Summit, and a Data Center Summit, as well as more than 15 additional programs and panels, on high-level industry perspectives, hot topics, and outlooks on optical communication challenges and solutions.

Interoperability Demonstrations will also be conducted where five industry-leading organizations host discussions and live demonstrations on breakthrough technologies and industry interoperability efforts. Further detailed information on the conference can be found on the OFC website:

Talking about websites, this year the Society will roll-out a new main website, an online conversion of its newsletter, and advanced comprehensive marketing approaches to better reach and serve its members. The Society’s entire web presence will move to WordPress platforms, including sites hosted by chapters and global strategy groups. This inclusive shift will provide many functionalities, such as: enabling faster updating and hosting of new content, articles, and spotlights; better searchability from search engines; interactive content integration and seamless connections to tools across the IEEE; and a more natural feel to the users and members. The Society will be able to provide more services to the members, such as: the hosting of webinars, seminars, and eCourses via the website; better connectivity between chapters; interactive discussion areas and blogs; a job board and career services; etc. Additional details will be provided as they become available. The projected launch of the main website is June 2022.

From the publication area, it is worth pointing out that China has developed a large program called “China’s Journal Excellence Action Plan”. One important component of the program is a push to develop high profile and highly cited technical and scientific journals hosted in China by requiring 1/3 of the publications from Chinese Researchers to be in these domestic Chinese journals. This has the potential to change the landscape of publications for the Society, as well as the parent-IEEE. The IEEE is assessing the impact it will have on our publications. I will share additional details in upcoming columns, once determined.

Finally, for 2022, I wish for us all that the pandemic subsides and allows us to collectively return to more normal social interactions. As President I hope to meet many of you at conferences and associated meetings, and learn more about your needs and goals, as we all lead a brighter future for the Society.

René-Jean Essiambre
IEEE Photonics Society
President, 2022-2023