President's Letter

Toyohiko Yatagai on volunteers, the SPIE election, and the IYL.

01 July 2015

Scientific societies such as SPIE play an important role in bringing together international collaborators from academia, government labs, and industry to advance science, improve people’s lives, impact policy and funding, and drive healthy economies.

Examples abound in telecommunications, healthcare, security, manufacturing, education, energy, and sustainable development.

Beyond our own technical and business community, professional societies also have a role in communicating with political leaders, educators, and the general public about the impact of the technologies being developed by our constituents.

As a founding partner of the UN-decreed International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL), SPIE is delighted play a key role in ongoing celebrations that are providing wonderful visibility of the impact of optics and photonics technologies in the daily lives of millions of people around the world.

As SPIE’s president, I have had the pleasure of speaking at many IYL events and I hope you have been able to participate in some way too, perhaps even voting in the People’s Choice Award in the SPIE IYL photo contest. I congratulate the winners and all the finalists who submitted captivating images to the contest.

Throughout the remainder of the year, SPIE will continue to support the IYL with information and resources, and celebrations at our meetings.

In addition to such global initiatives, SPIE is committed to providing exceptional value to our members. Our publishing services provide the community with the most current technical information; our conferences and other events are opportunities for creating visibility for your work and for networking; and members receive business-relevant data through our industry activities.


SPIE serves the global community, and our volunteer leaders are a key factor in our ability to do this at a world-class level.

This year SPIE is celebrating its 60th anniversary. Over the last six decades, thousands of SPIE members have contributed to the Society, helping create the internationally recognized organization that we are today.

Volunteers are critical to the success of any professional society, and I extend my sincere appreciation to those who have contributed their time, energy, and enthusiasm to SPIE.

Many now in leadership positions got their start by giving a talk, writing a journal paper, or by participating in an exhibition. Later, they may have served on a conference committee, chaired a conference session, or volunteered on an SPIE policy or leadership committee.

The public policy and advocacy work that SPIE does on behalf of the optics and photonics industry has clearly made a difference in increasing public awareness of photonics and the funding that comes along with that visibility.

The activities of our members involved with the National Photonics Initiative in the US and Photonics21 in the European Union is a good example of how volunteers can make those efforts effective. Other countries like Japan take note of how these public policy activities are expanding the influence of such efforts.

There are many opportunities available to SPIE members to help advance the society and our industry. These opportunities can offer valuable professional development experience at the same time, contributing to career advancement.

As Christopher Wilcox explains in this issue of SPIE Professional, there are numerous benefits to becoming more involved with SPIE, even — or maybe especially — as an early career professional. Chairing a conference session and other volunteer activities build knowledge about the Society and can position individuals for future leadership opportunities such as serving on the Board of Directors and even being president.


As for my own path to becoming president, I joined SPIE in 1983 and served in various roles including being a member of the SPIE Nominating and Awards Committees prior to being elected to the board of directors.

After I was elected to the position of vice president in 2013, I joined the presidential succession chain by becoming president-elect in 2014 and president in January 2015.

My thanks to all of you who voted for me in that election.

Now I encourage you to vote for our future president. A list of candidates for election to the SPIE Board of Directors is on page 9. I encourage each of you to take a few minutes and vote to choose the future leaders of the Society.

Voting is both a privilege and a right of membership, and I encourage you to use your vote.

I will announce the election results on 11 August at the SPIE Annual Meeting during Optics+Photonics in San Diego.

Toyohiko Yatagai
2015 SPIE President

Consider Volunteering With SPIE

You can help positively transform the world by partnering with SPIE in a volunteer role.

As a membership society, SPIE relies on volunteers who ultimately support researchers and engineers in developing solutions for the world’s challenges.

Hundreds of individuals volunteer their time and talents in a variety of roles, influencing and shaping the Society to meet the needs of its members and constituents.

Volunteering opportunities exist in all areas including leadership and governance, meetings, publications, committees, education, student-related activities, and awards.

Consider SPIE volunteerism as an avenue to enhance your professional experience. It’s a rewarding way to give back to your community. Find out how volunteering with SPIE can advance your career at SPIE Optics+Photonics. A special session on this topic will be held at 1 pm Tuesday, 11 August.

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