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SPIE Professional January 2006

Share Your Mind

Volunteer your expertise as part of the SPIE Visiting Lecturer Program.

By Erin M. Schadt

Most professionals can look back on a teacher, class, or speaker that indelibly and positively influenced their career. Now, you have the opportunity to provide that positive influence through the SPIE Visiting Lecturer Program.
The program matches up SPIE members in all areas of optics and photonics with student and regional chapters to present lectures at chapter events.
"The amazing thing to me is the tremendous outpouring of volunteer support for this updated program. Over the course of a month, nearly 50 out-standing members of the community signed up to take part in the program," says SPIE Student Services Coordinator Dirk Fabian. "I think this represents recognition of the immense need to connect with the next generation of researchers."
Several professionals have already given lectures as part of the program, including H. Philip Stahl, who spoke last year to a group at the Beijing Institute of Technology in China.
"I encourage everyone to participate. As a former president of the Southwestern Connecticut Local Section of the OSA, I understand how hard it is to provide a monthly technical program. I also know how well society speakers are welcomed and appreciated," says Stahl, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (Huntsville, AL). He believes that participating in programs such as this "is both an obligation of being a professional and an opportunity to see how the general science community views your work."
Andrew Cheng, City University of Hong Kong, gave a presentation to the Institute of Atmospheric Optics (IAO) SPIE Student Chapter in Tomsk, Russia.
"Over 20 students and their research supervisors and professors participated in my lecture. The students came from local universities in Tomsk as well as the Institute of Atmospheric Optics. I talked about research projects with atmospheric remote sensing and measurements in Hong Kong, including lidar remote sensing of urban aerosols, skyradiometer measurements results since 2002, and atmospheric vertical column density of nitrogen dioxides in Hong Kong.
I also presented our new method of retrieving the equivalent of ground aerosol concentrations from the lidar extinction profiles. The subjects were very similar to various projects being carried out by the participating students and professors in the Tomsk area."
"The [visiting lecturer] program is much richer in academic exchange than just giving a presentation at a conference or an invited seminar in a research institute," says Cheng. "Here, you have a chance to know what the students are doing and learn about the level of research that is involved."
In fact, Cheng says while in Tomsk he learned about research from the students that he was unaware of -- lidar sensing of the health of trees.
He also stresses that giving a lecture in a different country than your own can be a good cultural learning experience, as well.
Fabian says, "The beauty of the program is that it gives students a chance to interact with the expert both as a learner and as a colleague in science. I already have heard some outright success stories resulting from these meetings: summer projects, reciprocal speaking invitations, and new science directions."

Visiting Lecturer Program Facts:

Lecturers are reimbursed for travel, food, and lodging up to $800. SPIE student and regional chapters are each allowed $800 every year for this program. Speaker topics can be in any optics and photonics field and even in professional development or other subjects. To be considered for the program, email vlp@spie.org and describe what you'd like to present. 


Fig. 1 Andrew Cheng (front, center) during his visit to the Institute of Atmospheric Optics SPIE Student Chapter in Tomsk, Russia.

Erin M. Schadt, SPIE Professional Managing Editor

DOI: 10.1117/2.4200601.004