Alexis Spilman Vogt: The 2023 SPIE María J. Yzuel Educator Award

The SPIE María J. Yzuel Educator Award recognizes outstanding contributions to optics education by an SPIE instructor or an educator in the field
11 January 2023
Alexis Spilman Vogt speaking at 2018's SPIE Photonics West on diversity in optics.
Vogt at 2018's SPIE Photonics West, speaking on diversity in optics.

Since her earliest recognition as an outstanding teacher of optics, when she won the University of Rochester Undergraduate Teaching Intern Award in 2001, Alexis Spilman Vogt has actively leveraged her career — a career that spans academia and industry — to educate others. Gaining both her Bachelor of Science and PhD from the university’s Institute of Optics, she worked in industry as an optical physicist at Bausch + Lomb and IDEX/Melles Griot before taking on an academic appointment as Endowed Chair and Associate Professor at Monroe Community College’s (MCC) Optical Systems Technology program in 2015. In that role, she has increased the enrollment and graduate numbers to the highest in the program’s history, secured multiple grants to support and enhance the program, and continues to develop partnerships for the program with both industry and local high schools. The program also includes the country’s only associate’s degree in Optical Systems Technology, as well as the 2+2 transfer option in optics through partnerships with the University of Rochester and the Rochester Institute of Technology, among others. She is also the executive director of Workforce and Higher Education for AmeriCOM, an organization driving a collective effort on the part of industry, academia, nonprofit, and government sectors to develop robust workforce training and grow the national precision-optics supply chain and manufacturing base.

Vogt, an SPIE Member, is a frequent participant, speaker, instructor, exhibitor, and panel member at SPIE conferences, including hosting Student Day at SPIE Optifab. Since 2017, she has taught Fundamentals of Optical Engineering, a course she created, at SPIE meetings. In addition, she’s worked with the Society to create engaging talks and informative responses around the need for technician training and regarding her own experiences in optics.  In 2019, Vogt was featured in the 2019 SPIE Women in Optics planner.

“Alexis was the first person to introduce me to the field of optics,” says Edmund Optics Design Engineering Manager and SPIE Senior Member Katie Schwertz. “I met her when she was a graduate student at the University of Rochester, and I was a high-school senior. I recall her enthusiasm about the field: it led me to take an introductory optics course and, shortly, thereafter, declare my major in the field. I know that I am only one of many students who have been inspired by Alexis to pursue an optics career. While most everyone in the optics industry recognizes the need for better technician education in the US, I don’t believe anyone is doing as much as Alexis to execute solutions. I personally admire that she looks to diverse and underserved communities as a major part of her work, and that, in addition to her ongoing work at MCC, Alexis is now taking the curriculum and experience that she’s built and working to expand that template across the country. Alexis’ ability to teach, lead, inspire, and communicate is unparalleled. The impact she is having on the pipeline for optics technicians will be felt for years to come.”

Meet the other 2023 SPIE Society Award recipients.

Read more about Alexis Spilman Vogt and the SPIE María J. Yzuel Educator Award.


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