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Student Chapter Organizes Chicago/Midwest Conference

By Pao-Tai Lin, Northwestern Univ. Chapter President

On 10 November, the Northwestern University Student Chapter hosted the "SPIE Chicago/Midwest Conference." The event was made possible with the support of an SPIE Collaborative Conference Grant and meeting space and equipment donated by the McCormick Engineering School at Northwestern University.

About 40 people participated in the conference. Attendees included faculty members, research scientists, post-docs, and graduate students from a variety of

Students discuss their research during the afternoon poster session.
research backgrounds involving photonics – electrical engineering, material science, physics, biology, art science, and chemistry. "Participants are so focused [in their research areas] during these talks [and were surprised] when they found out that photonics encompasses much more than they had previously thought," said Pao Tai Lin, conference co-chair and Northwestern Univ. Chapter President. "Photonics is everywhere in science and engineering today; it just depends on whether you have the courage and the enthusiasm to broaden your field using photonics."

The conference organizing committee was composed of Chapter Presidents from attending universities while the conference itself was divided into three main sections: oral presentations, posters, and dinner reception discussions. In total, there were 16 talks and 25 posters presented during the day-long conference.

Invited talks were well received by attendees. Professor Kumar, Director of the Center for Photonics Communication and Computing (CPCC) at Northwestern, gave a talk on quantum optics communication. Professor Allen Taflove, one of the most famous professors in the field of electro-magnetic wave simulation, gave a talk on how photonics helps in the early stages of cancer detection. Dr. Kevin Eliceiri introduced the Laboratory for Optical and Computational Instruments (LOCI) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a co-director of this laboratory, he also discussed developments in imaging and image manipulation of living specimens. Professor Daria Tsoupikova spoke about current developments in visualization techniques in laboratories and used many impressive pictures of the Lake Onega (Karelia, Russia) World Heritage Site as examples.

Chapter members enjoy lively discussion during the dinner reception.
At the dinner reception, participants spoke highly of the conference and agreed that the conference was a valuable opportunity that should happen again next year. "I hope this kind of conference can be expanded and continued," said Professor Shahriar, conference chair and Northwestern University SPIE Chapter Advisor. Looking to the future, Prof. Shahriar "[hopes] to invite SPIE members from Purdue University and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Even though they are a little far from Chicago, they have very good reputation in optics research and would be valuable contributors." What was the overall feeling of conference attendees? "SPIE feels like a home for us who devote ourselves to photonics."

Additional speaker and abstract details are available for download.

Special thanks to attendees and organizers from:
Northwestern University  
University of Notre Dame  
University of Wisconsin-Madison  
University of Illinois-Chicago  
Kent State University  
Argonne National Labs