SPIE State of Affairs

Report on SPIE annual general meeting 2016.

01 October 2016

Outstanding successes in the Society’s leadership role in the hugely successful International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL) in 2015, record attendance at SPIE Photonics West, and public policy advocacy for the optics and photonics community were celebrated at the SPIE annual general meeting in August.

SPIE President Robert Lieberman, Secretary/Treasurer Gary Spiegel, and CEO Eugene Arthurs reported on SPIE events, membership, and finances for 2015 at the meeting, noting that SPIE activities, programs, publications, and overall altruistic support for the optics and photonics community have been exceptional. They also reported on more recent activities in 2016.

Lieberman reported that altruistic spending by the Society, to support the IYL, scholarships, and public outreach activities, exceeded $5 million for 2015.

Public policy advocacy last year included strong support for increased government funding for optics and photonics across the globe and high-level involvement in several regional economic impact studies. SPIE has been a founding partner and/or supporter for Europe’s Photonics21, the Canadian Photonics Industry Consortia, and the US National Photonics Initiative (NPI), among others.

The NPI is a collaborative alliance established in 2013 to increase cooperation and coordination among US industry, government, and academia to drive US funding and investment in photonics.

The NPI helped secure $610 million in funding for the new American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM) in 2015; collaborated with the US Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a technology roadmap for the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative; and created a task force to ensure that optical imaging technologies would play a key role in the “Cancer Moonshot” initiative.

Across the globe, SPIE and its members spent another year making a difference in advancing the science of light and the ways in which optics and photonics technologies can provide solutions to global challenges.

Lieberman, Spiegel, and Arthurs said SPIE support of the IYL was especially significant, with the Society expending $1.7 million over three years on events, publications, and outreach activities. The majority of funds were disbursed during 2015 to support hundreds of IYL projects.

“We went above and beyond,” Arthurs said, noting that UNESCO officials declared it the most successful international year ever. “SPIE members should take considerable pride in the role SPIE played” he said.

Read more about the IYL final report.

In his report, Lieberman noted that SPIE industry, student, education, and publication programs are key resources for the optics and photonics community, with SPIE serving nearly 300,000 constituents worldwide.

Programs for those in industry, for instance, help longstanding businesses and budding entrepreneurs find prospective customers and employees, and they provide a structure for members to advocate for the optics and photonics industry on public policy issues.


SPIE Secretary/Treasurer Gary Spiegel reported that the financial condition of the Society is strong despite the end of a six-year period of rising stock market prices. He reported a net deficit at the end of the year of $585,000, due largely to market and investment downturns, while net assets held steady at $79 million.

In his report, Arthurs gave an overview of SPIE events, publications, courses, and membership trends in 2015 and 2016 and noted that SPIE celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2015.

His presentation drew attention to the critical support SPIE gives to the Winter College on Optics and the Active Learning in Optics and Photonics (ALOP) program. ALOP teacher workshops were held in Mauritius and South Africa in 2015 and in Panama, Nigeria, and Pakistan in 2016.

ALOP teacher workshops in Mauritius.

Arthurs also presented information about the annual SPIE Optics & Photonics Global Salary Report, which provides the best source of data on careers in photonics and allows comparison of salaries in industry, academia, etc. Each year’s report is mailed to SPIE members with their copy of SPIE Professional magazine.

Topics discussed during a question-and-answer session during the meeting included the work of the SPIE Presidential Advisory Committee on Diversity and the higher-than-normal spending for altruistic activities in 2015.

SPIE annual meeting at SPIE Optics + Photonics.

The next SPIE annual meeting will be 8 August 2017 at SPIE Optics + Photonics in San Diego, CA.

Members can receive a copy of the official minutes of the SPIE annual general meeting by emailing governance@spie.org.

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