Light in Dark Times

SPIE’s newly elected president María J. Yzuel is optimistic about continued R&D in renewable energy.
01 January 2009
María J. Yzuel

Happy New Year. Feliz 2009!

I wish you a wonderful and successful 2009, especially in this uncertain economic time. My first letter as SPIE President is addressed to all SPIE members, to all attendees of SPIE Photonics West in San Jose, CA, (USA) who have the opportunity to read this issue of SPIE Professional magazine, and to the whole optics and photonics community. It is my pleasure and a great privilege to serve you.

Like many of you, I am concerned about how optics and photonics will fare as the key enabling technology during an economic downturn and how SPIE, as an international society, will continue helping us advance the science and technology of light. But I am certainly optimistic because optical technologies are crucial to many other fields.

Previous SPIE presidents have been talented colleagues who have led the Society very well. SPIE also has a very diverse and generous group of volunteers and an efficient and well trained staff. I have been fortunate to work with them. As SPIE 2009 president, I will collaborate with the Board of Directors, standing committees, and the SPIE staff. I will also listen to members who have suggestions and directions for our Society.

Please do not hesitate to let me or SPIE know your needs. Send a message to the President.

SPIE has a strong constituency of more than 16,000 individual members, about 450 corporate members, and tens of thousands of others in the optics community who use SPIE services. We have to serve them well, and we do this by developing programs, conferences, exhibitions, and short courses, by continually enhancing the SPIE Digital Library for easy access to the latest research, and by offering scholarships and outreach grants.

Sometimes our industry and academic members have very different needs. We continually work to understand the needs of our members and the needs of the Society in different regions of the world to serve them now and long into the future. SPIE, thus, is open to and flexible in introducing new conference topics and other support, especially with emerging technologies in the fields of biophotonics, nanotechnology, environmental sciences, and energy.

Optics has an important role in developing fields like environmental sciences and energy. It’s important to continue to invest in these technologies even in difficult economic times because the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency are so vital. SPIE and its members are committed to being part of tomorrow’s solutions for alternative energy technologies and systems.

For example, companies like Jenoptik have decided to enter the field of production technology for solar cells. Q-Cells, the largest manufacturer of solar cell technology, is investing in Silicon Border Science Park in Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico.

In my country, Spain, a sunny country with no petrol production, there are more than 300 huge photovoltaic solar parks, each producing at least 1 MW of electric power. More are being built and connected to the power grid. The government has pushed investors to build these plants in Spain by offering substantial reimbursements to investors. Investors are now looking for other countries with similar incentives, and they are also considering wind parks. (You can read more in this issue about solar technology in Europe).

There are also energy-related conferences at virtually all of our symposia, particularly at SPIE Optics+Photonics in San Diego next August.

I look forward to meeting you at SPIE Photonics West later this month. During the coming year, SPIE will organize numerous other conferences covering basic and applied research and applications in cutting-edge technologies. I hope you will benefit from these meetings by presenting your research, learning from the efforts of other innovators, and meeting your colleagues to discuss with them future research and development projects.

María J. Yzuel
2009 SPIE President

María Yzuel

SPIE’s new president was the first female professor in Spain to receive tenure in physics. María Yzuel has taught at the Universities of Zaragoza and Granada and at the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona (Spain) where she has been a professor with the optics group in the Department of Physics for 25 years.

A vice president of the Royal Spanish Physical Society and its Women in Physics group, she is a Fellow of SPIE, OSA, EOS, IOP (CPhys) and SEDOPTICA (Socio de Honor) and a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts of Barcelona.

Yzuel has worked in diffraction image theory and optical pattern recognition with the introduction of color information in correlators, and she received the SPIE Board of Directors Award in 2005. Her current research fields are information optics and the use of liquid crystal panels in diffractive optics.

She earned her PhD at Universidad de Zaragoza and has published more than 250 research papers.

Write to her at

Meet the President
SPIE Photonics West
6:30 p.m., 26 January
California Theatre
345 S. First St.
San Jose, CA, USA

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