Podcast celebrates global science community

28 January 2021
In January we launched a thought leadership campaign to promote the core brand values of the leading professional society in optics and photonics, The Optical Society (OSA). Through a series of blogs, feature articles and podcasts we hear inspirational stories and perspectives from scientists and engineers improving the world.

In Podcast Episode 1 – Nurturing Talent, we spoke to four OSA Ambassadors about their careers and how they are helping inspire and mentor optics and photonics students all across the world.

This podcast explored the personal stories of four emerging leaders in optics and photonics and how being part of the OSA community has helped them to develop their careers.

These emerging leaders talked about becoming OSA Ambassadors, their passion for sharing their perspectives with students and other early-career professionals, and helping to provide career advice, technical knowledge, and mentorship.

The campaign has shown how OSA convenes the brightest minds, nurtures talent, helps to develop skills, and creates career-advancing opportunities for its global network of 8,000 student members who participate in over 403 chapters in 60 countries.

Sam Young, Head of Content and Media at Matter PR said:

“Matter PR’s podcast campaign has told the fascinating life stories of OSA’s emerging leaders from its global community. The Ambassadors recall their roles as mentors for student chapters and how they act as an essential force for creating tomorrow’s leaders in optics and photonics. Serving as travelling lecturers for chapters and sections, Chad Husko, Gabrielle Thomas, Amol Choudhary and Mengjie Yu talk about how they support professional development events at OSA meetings and engage with their local communities.

Describing the environment OSA creates, Dr. Mengjie Yu said:

“It’s very important because I think science advances when everybody feels comfortable. The students we meet with can openly talk about their opinions.  That cannot be achieved if we cannot embrace many people altogether. By taking a leadership role in a professional society like OSA, you can make a bigger contribution and have a bigger influence on more people.”

OSA’s investment in its members, especially its student members, and how it is a champion for career development, training and mentorship, resonated with 2019 OSA Ambassador Dr. Gabrielle Thomas:

“As part of my Ambassador year, I went to Poland. I travelled locally here in Germany as well. And then towards the end of the year, I went to Singapore and Indonesia. When I went to Indonesia, what I really appreciated was the one-on-one time that I had with the student chapters. They wanted to be able to explain to a broad audience, to the public about what it is that they’re doing, what it is that they’re learning and the kind of technologies that they’re developing as part of their masters or their PhD. That engagement with them, for me, was super valuable because it gave me new insights  into the very localized needs of the students there.”

The four OSA Ambassadors featured in the Podcast

Dr. Chad Husko is a scientist-turned-entrepreneur and the Founder and CEO of Iris Light Technologies, a nanotechnology company developing a colour-versatile laser for the rapidly growing silicon photonics market. As a 2016 OSA Ambassador, Chad visited student chapters in six countries, where he hosted student and early-career researchers’ sessions to better understand their needs and how OSA could help meet them. Chad regularly sits on professional development and entrepreneurship panels to advance the Society’s mission.

Dr. Gabrielle Thomas is currently Innovation Ambassador for M Squared Lasers in Germany, which involves building innovation networks, spearheading new R&D projects and coordinating the expansion of M Squared’s German subsidiary. She has a Ph.D. in Laser Physics, an MSc in Optics and Photonics and a BSc in Physics, all from Imperial College, London. She has a range of experience working in both academic (universities and research institutes) and industrial (start-ups and SMEs) environments, in fields including remote sensing, attoscience, quantum technology and biophotonics.

In 2016 Gabrielle was named one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Scientists, and in 2019, she was selected as one of the ten OSA Ambassadors for that year. As an OSA Ambassador, Gabrielle visited numerous student chapters across the world, delivering technical talks and professional development workshops to students and early-career professionals.

Dr. Amol Choudhary was also a 2019 Ambassador and is currently Assistant Professor at the Department of Electrical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. He works in optical physics in understanding light-matter interactions, including laser physics and nonlinear optics and their applications in high-speed communication networks. Amol has received several awards, including the Doctoral Prize Fellowship from the UK government, the Erasmus Mundus Scholarship from the European Parliament and OSA’s Ivan P. Kaminow Outstanding Early Career Professional Prize.

Mengjie Yu was a 2020 OSA Ambassador and helps to lead global engagement and the growth of our Integrated Photonics Technical Group. Mengjie is the winner of the 2016 Maiman Student Paper Competition, the 2016 Emil Wolf Student Paper Competition and is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Applied Physics in the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University. Her research areas include optical frequency comb generation in photonic waveguides.

From Public Outreach to Stakeholder Engagement, Matter PR specialises in helping organisations translate complex scientific projects into compelling stories which help communicate the importance and potential impact of their work.

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