Summer is approaching in North America with warmer weather and two conferences from our Society taking place in-person. The first is the IEEE Summer Topicals (SUM) Meeting Series in Mexico in July (see It consists of several topical tracks that facilitate information exchange between various technical communities using or affected by rapidly growing areas of technology or “Hot Topics” related to the general field of Photonics. It not only allows you to meet people in your field of expertise but also explore new areas by attending co-located presentations and discussions with experts in those areas. 

A second forthcoming conference is the IEEE Research and Applications of Photonics in Defense (RAPID) Conference to be held in Florida in September (see This meeting brings together government, academia, and industry scientists to focus on addressing critical global security and defense challenges using photonics. The websites of both conferences are being continuously updated with new content, such as invited and plenary talks, and are worth consulting.

For this column of the June issue of the Newsletter, I would also like to familiarize and provide information to our members about an important component of our Society, the local Chapter. Our Technical Society Chapters primary goal is to connect the photonics community in a local section by holding events that closely reflect the interests and expertise of a region and the photonics community-at-large. 

Examples of recent activities organized by chapters include: Young Professional Journal Clubs (China), Nano-Photonic Devices & Sensors Workshops (Bangladesh), Best PhD Thesis Grants (Sweden), LED Light Assembly & Solar Installation (Kenya), Rise of Women in Science & Technology (Taiwan), Inter-College Olympiad (Cameroon), H2020 Innovative Training Networking (Italy) and many others. 

The Italian Chapter of the Society is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and I had the chance to participate in a special event organized by the Chair, Antonio d’Alessandro. Several invited tutorials were delivered by prominent members of the Chapter. The event also included presentations on photonics startups in Italy and an overview of the technical publications of the Society by two Editors-in-Chief. It was a pleasure to attend. Participating in chapter events is a great opportunity to meet members of the local photonics community from different backgrounds and establish personal relationships. 

The IEEE Photonics Society helps support the Chapters in many ways such as in growing membership, increasing visibility of local photonics communities, supporting local workshops and educational events, enhancing student involvement and Young Professional initiatives, providing regional and sectional opportunities, and recognizing volunteer services. The Society currently has 150 chapters and counting and offers over $60K USD a year for innovative programming led by its Chapters. This past year our Chapters have had much success through annual grant funding, holding 52 major programs reaching over 17,800 participants in 22 different countries.

Forming a local chapter is quite straightforward and brings many benefits to the local photonics community. There are two categories of IEEE chapters – Professional and Student.  Three different paths are possible to develop a Professional Chapter: form a new Chapter, form a new joint Chapter with one or more IEEE Technical Societies, or expand an existing Chapter. By researching your area, you can decide which route will best support a healthy and active Society Chapter environment. Starting a Student Chapter does not require the presence of a Professional Chapter but must be connected to an IEEE Branch established at an accredited university. More on how to form a Technical Society Chapter, can be found here:

The Society is now supporting the growth of IEEE SIGHT Affinity Groups co-located with established Technical Society Chapters that have strong interests in serving humanitarian and sustainable development initiatives. SIGHT groups work on projects within their own communities and are encouraged to form partnerships with established local organizations. The Groups work in assistive technology, information and communications technology, agriculture, energy, environment, health, sanitation, water, and robotics — as long as technology development, deployment, or policy is part of the solution to the problem. If you are interested in connecting your local chapter with IEEE SIGHT, please reach out to Kithinji Muriungi, Associate Vice President of Chapter Relations, at

I would also like to mention UNESCO The International Day of Light (IDL) in which our Chapters are active supporters, and the Society is a founding partner. I thank our chapter leadership for their commitment to and appreciation of light advancements and the role light-based science plays in science, culture and art, education, and sustainable development. Examples of the events that surrounded the initiative were: Sustainable Development Atelier for Children with Basic Light Application; How to Start an Optical/Photonic Social Startup; Bio-photonics Learning for Underserved Schools; Sustainable Development: Showcase of Creativity with Light; Lighting Design: Dramaturgy, Practice & Education; Liter of Light in Chile; etc. More can be found on 2022 IDL events at:

In addition, this year in partnership with Optica and SPIE, our Society supported a public campaign, called “Our Future is Light”. It included a movie trailer that features diverse characters successfully solving global-level problems using photonics-enabled technologies and the job opportunities available in light-based science fields. In conjunction with the video’s release, the related website includes an overview of the technologies mentioned in the film; depictions of professionals working in the field of optics and photonics, from optical engineers and laser technicians to academic researchers; and a selection of downloadable resources for education and careers (see

I wish all our members a wonderful remainder of the year and inspiring discoveries in photonics. 


René-Jean Essiambre 

President (2022-2023)

IEEE Photonics Society