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SPIE Professional October 2010

Report from SPIE Annual General Meeting

SPIE members met for the 2010 Annual General Meeting of the Society on 3 August in San Diego, CA, (USA) in conjunction with SPIE Optics + Photonics symposium held 1-5 August. Several reports and presentations were made, but no voting took place. SPIE members can request a copy of the official minutes of the meeting by emailing governance@spie.org.

President's report

Ralph JamesSPIE President Ralph B. James of Brookhaven National Lab announced the election results and presented an overview of his presidential year thus far.

"It's the best job anywhere for those who want to serve the global optics and photonics community," James said.

James reported on his efforts to channel his skills in R&D and experience in leadership into useful inputs for the Society. In his activities involving public policy in the United States, James said he focuses on the economic imperative of photonics; the need for continuity and long-term support in R&D funding; and science, technology, engineering, and math education.

James also reviewed his participation in meetings of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents and with SPIE and OSA leadership. He also discussed the need for updating the "Harnessing Light" report, global outreach, and industry engagement, and he asked all SPIE members to become more involved in the Society.

Treasurer's report

Brian LulaSPIE Secretary/Treasurer Brian Lula of PI (Physik Instrumente) LP reported on the financial status of the Society. He explained that 2009 fared much better than 2008 financially, due in great part to the recovery of the financial markets. Total assets trended upward from 2008, which he described as a "rollercoaster" year. There were approximately $44 million in net assets at the end of 2009, 54% of which was in the operating reserve fund.

There was diligent effort from staff to keep the Society running efficiently during challenging economic times. These efforts contributed to a 2009 operating surplus of $3.8 million, which matched the 2008 figure despite a drop in revenue.

Lula projects a surplus of $2.6 million at the end of 2010. He added that the Society has a conservative investment portfolio which has helped to protect our investments. He thanked the Financial Advisory Committee and the Investment Subcommittee for their continued efforts in maintaining the Society reserves.

Executive Director's report

Eugene ArthursSPIE Executive Director Eugene Arthurs paused for a moment of silence at the beginning of his report to remember friends of the Society who have passed away since the 2009 Annual General Meeting, including SPIE Past President Robert L. Rodgers who served from 1961 to 1963.

Arthurs said he was pleased with the social and economic impacts that the 50th anniversary of the laser have had on the photonics community. After celebrating the 400th anniversary of the telescope in 2009, SPIE created the Advancing the Laser tribute to recognize this important anniversary and also partnered with the OSA, the IEEE Photonics Society, and the American Physical Society to create LaserFest. "Through the efforts of both programs, more attention has been brought to photonics than we could have ever imagined," Arthurs said.

Although SPIE membership totals are seeing modest growth, student membership ”and student leadership in particular” is growing quickly, Arthurs said. He also noted healthy growth of the SPIE Early Career Professional program and the increasing importance to SPIE members of social media sites and tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook where SPIE has a growing presence.

The SPIE Digital Library remains the most cited resource in optics- and photonics-related patents in the world, Arthurs said, and 133 eBooks are currently available. He also noted the appointment of editors to two new SPIE journals. The editor of SPIE Reviews is Bill Rhodes, and the editor for the Journal of Photonics for Energy is Zakya Kafafi.

Education and outreach

Arthurs congratulated the 116 recipients of 2009 SPIE scholarships who received $292,000 in funding and the 29 recipients of SPIE education outreach grants. SPIE is becoming a body to accredit optics and photonics programs at universities through the accrediting agency, ABET. SPIE has nominated an ABET Board representative and an alternate, selected and trained six program evaluators (PEVs), and assigned PEVs to two optics programs up for review this fall.

The Society has an ongoing interest in supporting optics in the developing world, and SPIE is focusing outreach in specific avenues such at the Winter College on Optics at the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Italy. SPIE also supports a nearby laboratory at ICNFN by paying half the salary of the lab director.

ROI on optics investment

Arthurs noted that in the UK (and increasingly in the United States), the public is beginning to question the return on investment for R&D. Investment in science returned a great deal of economic benefit in pre-globalization days, he said, but it doesn't appear to do that anymore, at least to the average taxpayer. The EU is countering this attitude through the Photonics21 platform, which SPIE strongly supports, and other efforts. Arthurs said the optics and photonics community has to come up with a strong argument for the value of investment in R&D.

In the United States, the Office of Management and Budget has warned the heads of agencies and departments that funding requests for the FY2012 budget should be tied to outcome-oriented goals and that timelines should be established for evaluating the performance of the research. A July memo from the OMB stresses the importance of science metrics and quantifiable returns for budget submissions. The OMB also asked agencies to focus on addressing six big challenges:

  • Promoting sustainable economic growth and job creation
  • Defeating the most dangerous diseases, achieving better health outcomes for all, and reducing health care costs
  • Moving toward a clean energy future to reduce dependence on energy imports while curbing greenhouse gas emissions 
  • Understanding, adapting to, and mitigating the impacts of global climate change
  • Managing the competing demands on land, fresh water, and the oceans for the production of food, fiber, biofuels, and ecosystem services based on sustainability and biodiversity
  • Developing the technologies to protect our troops, citizens, and national interests

Arthurs urged all scientists to become familiar with these challenges and shape their research accordingly. SPIE also needs to start focusing efforts within these grand themes, he said.

Arthurs, who also showed a video about SPIE's ties to the optics industry, noted the re-launch of the industry website optics.org, which is bringing a sharpened focus to cleantech, defense, life sciences, and industrial applications of optics and photonics. SPIE acquired ownership of the site earlier this year.

New benefits for SPIE members

All new and renewing SPIE members now receive a subscription to the SPIE Digital Library for 10 downloads of their choice, in addition to a subscription to one SPIE Journal.

Watch for this new member benefit when you renew your SPIE membership.

Primary authors of papers presented at SPIE conferences will also receive five complimentary downloads after their proceedings papers are published in the library.

SPIE Offers 3 iPhone Apps

SPIE now has three apps at the iTunes store for iPhone, iPodtouch, and iPad users.

In addition to SPIE Profiles and SPIE conference programs to keep track of people and events on your device, check out spie.org/mobile to see the introductory "lite" version of the SPIE Field Guide to Geometrical Optics

Have a question or comment about this article? Write to us at spieprofessional@spie.org.

DOI: 10.1117/2.4201010.03

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Advancing the Laser: 50 Years and into the future