Chapter Best Practices: IEEE Photonics Society Sweden Chapter
The IEEE Photonics Society (PS) Sweden Chapter is a community of photonic professionals working in Sweden. The Chapter was founded in 2013 and has members all over Sweden. Although having only about 40 members we are very active. About 40% of the members are from the industry and the rest is from universities and research institutes. Half of the members are Senior grade or Fellows. However, the number of student members are few and therefore we have several activities that we hope will attract more students. The Chapter board has 8 members and 25% of them are women.
The Chapter organizes several annual activities. In autumn we invite the academia to nominate a recently graduated Ph.D. student for the annual “Best Ph.D. Thesis Award” in optics and photonics. Usually, we receive 5-8 nominations each year and the awards committee have a hard time to make a selection among these excellent theses. The monetary part of the award has recently been increased to 10,000 SEK (around $1,100 USD) thanks to support from the IEEE Photonics Society Annual Chapter Grant. Since 2016 we are sponsoring the “IEEE Best Poster Award” at the annual Optics & Photonics in Sweden (OPS) conference, which is organized by PhotonicSweden. Since it has been very difficult to select only one best poster, we actually have three awards one being the best poster and two others are best poster distinctions. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 situation the conference has been postponed two times, but we are expecting it will come back in October this year. Occasionally, we are also sponsoring “Best Paper” and “Best Student Paper” awards at international conferences organized by Swedish universities. Last year we had a “Best Student Paper Award” at the 25th International Conference on Optical Network Design and Modelling (ONDM-2021) in Gothenburg, Sweden (unfortunately it was an online event).
Since 2015 we have frequently (almost every year) sponsored “Women-in-Photonics (WIP)” events. The events are usually organized as a symposium with a number of invited international female speakers and being a part of a larger international conference in Sweden. The most recent WIP event was in May last year at the Compound Semiconductor Week (CSW-2021) in Stockholm. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 situation the conference and the WIP symposium had to be a virtual event. The symposium aimed to promote personal and professional growth for women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and to inspire young professionals and Ph.D. students to embrace the new technology leap in the STEM fields. The WIP symposium had eight distinguished international female speakers giving presentations at two sessions. The organizers were honored to have Ayodeji Coker, Science Director from the USA Office of Naval Research Global, as the chair of this symposium. The WIP event was sponsored by the IEEE-PS Sweden Chapter through an IEEE Photonics Society Chapter Grant. The symposium was also a part of the UNESCO International Day of Light 2021. Most of these WIP events has been organized by Prof. Qin Wang (KTH/RISE), a member of the Sweden Chapter board. For more info about the WIP event see the December issue of the IEEE Photonics Society Newsletter. Sometimes, we also sponsor events jointly with the Women in Engineering (WIE) Affinity Group Sweden.
Occasionally we have also organized outreach events showcasing photonics to the general public. A few examples are the “Introduce a Girl to Photonics” during the International Year of Light 2015 and “Photonics and Electronics for School Children” in 2016. Both in collaboration with RISE/Acreo (the Research Institute of Sweden).
Involvement with local industry, institutes, and universities is one of the goals for the Chapter and almost from the founding of the Chapter we have had a fruitful collaboration with PhotonicSweden. It is a technology-oriented association and photonics cluster that provides advocacy and networking for the Swedish photonics industry with a focus on Small- and Medium-size Enterprises (SMEs). An example of joint activities are the OptoPubs, which are a combination of a technical seminar and an “after work” event. These events are open to anyone in the photonics community. In November last year two members of the Sweden Chapter board provided the talks, including a presentation of the Chapter, as an opportunity to enroll new members. It was a hybrid event (both on-site and online), but after the presentations the on-site participants were invited to mingle with refreshments sponsored by IEEE-PS Sweden Chapter. This event provided an opportunity to professional networking, as well as for the photonics veterans to meet old colleagues. These events are very much appreciated. Furthermore, the Chapter occasionally host a Swedish Photonics Leadership Forum that gather representatives of PhotonicSweden, Swedish Optical Society (SOS), and the Swedish branch of European Optical Society (EOS) for discussing topics of common interest.
The Chapter publishes a quarterly Newsletter making it possible to announce, as well as sharing the outcome, of our activities. In each issue we also have a presentation of one the Chapter members lab, as well as presentations of recent Ph.D. theses defenses at Swedish universities in the field of photonics. To announce our activities, we also extensively use the tools provided by IEEE, such as vTools Events, vTools eNotice, and the IEEE Sweden website. We are also grateful to PhotonicSweden that usually announce our events in their Newsletter and website making it possible to reach an even larger audience. On the other hand, we announce the events organized by PhotonicSweden making it an opportunity for our members to attend the events.
To contribute to dissemination of technical knowledge, as well as professional development through continuing education, the Chapter organizes workshops and seminars. A couple of years ago we co-organized the first Swedish workshop on “Li-Fi Technologies and Applications” with a large number of invited international speakers, including Prof. Harald Haas, Edinburgh University (who first introduced the term Li-Fi). The other co-organizers were IEEE Sweden Social Implications of Technology (SIT) and the Swedish Energy Agency. Due to the COVID-19 situation, for the last two years we had to organize the events as hybrid meetings or online virtual meetings. In Nov-2020 we were able to organize a seminar on “Sensors at Antarctica” in collaboration with RISE and KTH Space Center. It was a hybrid event with around 50 participants (mainly students) – almost half of them was on- site (with seating restrictions of course) and the rest was online. This year we also took the opportunity to invite an IEEE Distinguished Lecturer, Prof. Salah Obayya (Zewail City of Science and Technology), giving a online lecture on “Computational Nanophotonics”. Since the Chapter members are from all over Sweden, we could potentially reach a larger audience with an online webinar.
Over the years the Chapter had a very good relationship with the staff of the IEEE Photonics Society helping out with any kind of administrative issues. The Society has also provided generous support to the Chapters activities (especially our WIP activities) through the Annual Chapter Grants and this support will also be essential for our Chapter to be able to continue our successful activities in the future.