SPIE 2014 Scholarships

SPIE awarded $351,000 in educational scholarships this year to 144 students.

01 October 2014

SPIE has awarded $351,000 in educational scholarships this year to 144 outstanding individuals, based on their potential for long-range contribution to optics, photonics, or a related light-based discipline.

The recipients include PhD students conducting research in plasmonics, metamaterials, supercontinuum generation, optical testing, and directed self assembly in microlithography who have been awarded the five most prestigious of the SPIE annual scholarships.


photo of SPIE scholarship winnerScott Cushing of West Virginia University (USA) is receiving the $11,000 SPIE D.J. Lovell Scholarship. His research involves optical biosensing, plasmonics, ultrafast optics, and nanomaterials for-solar energy conversion.

Cushing, whose advisers are Alan Bristow and SPIE member Nianqiang (Nick) Wu, said he was grateful for the SPIE support and will use the award to travel to SPIE meetings and to further his research. The SPIE conferences he attended during his early career resulted in collaborations that “have continually redefined my understanding and research direction in this field,” Cushing said.


photo of SPIE scholarship winnerWard Newman of University of Alberta (Canada) was awarded the John Kiel Scholarship, which was established to honor SPIE co-founder John Kiel in recognition of his contributions to the Society. The $10,000 scholarship recognizes Newman’s potential for long-term contribution to the field of optics and optical engineering.

Newman’s research is focused on metamaterial-based photonic devices such as single photon sources. He was the chair for the Engineering Graduate Research Symposium in Alberta in 2012 where he established a conference session on optics, photonics, and imaging.

Newman plans to use the award to visit collaborators at the University of Michigan (USA). His adviser is SPIE member Zubin Jacob.


Kiel, who served for many years as the Society’s treasurer, died in August at his home in California. He was 91.

Kiel is credited by many as being instrumental in the financial survival of the organization through its early years after being established in 1955. He later became treasurer (1971-1983) and served on the Society’s Financial Advisory Committee for the following 30 years.

Kiel worked for Producers Service Company making animation stands and specialty cameras for Walt Disney and other motion picture companies in Hollywood, CA. Producers Service Company became Photo-Sonics in 1952 and Kiel served as president of the high-speed camera equipment maker from 1961 to 2012.

Chuck DeMund, a past SPIE president, recalled a remarkable camera engineering feat at Photo-Sonics under Kiel, the development of a pin-registered 16mm high-speed camera capable of taking perfectly steady motion pictures at the “impossible” rate of 1000 frames per second.

“The laws of physics seemed to say this could not be done,” DeMund said. “Keys to the camera’s transporting film, stopping it for exposure, and then moving the next frame into place were careful balance and a tiny pulldown claw/register pin, designed and machined to watchmaker standards.”


photo of SPIE scholarship winnerNithyanandan Kanagaraj of Pondicherry University (India) has been awarded the Laser Technology, Engineering and Applications Scholarship. Funds for this $5,000 scholarship are provided jointly from SPIE and a gift from the former Forum for Military Applications of Directed Energy.

Kanagaraj, a PhD candidate in the Department of Physics at Pondicherry University, researches theoretical nonlinear optics with a focus on supercontinuum generation and modulational instability and won an SPIE best paper prize at the Winter College on Optics in February.

In thanking SPIE for the scholarship, Kanagaraj said he dedicated it to his mother.


photo of SPIE scholarship winnerHe (Linda) Yi of Stanford University (USA) is receiving the 2014 BACUS Photomask Scholarship for students in the field of microlithography with an emphasis on optical tooling and/or semiconductor manufacturing technologies.

Yi was part of a Stanford team that last year built the first working prototype for a new type of computer memory chip that promises to store more data using less space than conventional flash-memory chips.

Her research focuses on the application of block copolymer directed self-assembly (DSA) as the next generation lithography, specifically in the patterning of contact holes in integrated circuits. The DSA process was used to fabricate the prototype resistive random access memory (RRAM) chip.

Yi is a member of the SPIE Student Chapter at Stanford. Her adviser is H.-S. Philip Wong.


photo of SPIE scholarship winnerAnne-Sophie Poulin-Girard, who is pursuing her PhD in physics in the Center for Optics, Photonics and Lasers (COPL) at Université Laval (Canada), plans to continue participating in optics outreach activities with receipt of the SPIE Optical Design and Engineering Scholarship for 2014.

The scholarship was established in memory of Bill Price and Warren Smith, both well-respected members of the SPIE technical community.

Poulin-Girard has volunteered for many outreach activities during her grad school years and is the cofounder of FEMTO, a Canada-wide project dedicated to increasing young people’s awareness of careers related to the science of light.

She has been outreach events coordinator of the SPIE Student Chapter at Laval since 2012, was featured in the 2013-14 SPIE Women in Optics calendar, and has served on the SPIE Education and Future Leaders Committees.

Under the supervision of SPIE Senior Member Simon Thibault and Denis Laurendeau, Poulin-Girard is working on a Panomorph stereoscopic system for 3D depth estimation of objects in a scene for her PhD.

She co-authored a paper on optics outreach at SPIE Optics + Photonics 2012 and was the co-author of two papers presented at SPIE Optics + Photonics in August.


Applications for the 2015 Michael Kidger Memorial Scholarship in Optical Design will be due 31 March 2015.

More information on requirements and criteria for this $5,000 education grant is available at kidger.com.

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