Teach and learn with SPIE

01 March 2024
By Jennifer Barton

It has been argued that humans are the dominant species on the planet because we like, or are even compelled, to teach. When we make a discovery, our first impulse is to share that breakthrough with the world. We take pride when someone builds on our findings or uses our widget. Other species invent, but typically, they hoard their newfound knowledge, wanting to keep some slight advantage to themselves.

Humans understand that by sharing discoveries, we all become stronger. Even better, humans don’t limit their sharing to just their family or tribe. Overhear someone at a coffee shop complaining they don’t understand Fourier transforms? We interrupt to say, “I didn’t get them either until I started thinking about it this way….” Hear that two billion people lack access to safe water, and we start thinking about how our new technology can help.

SPIE enables this human need! SPIE connects minds worldwide to ensure that your research and innovation reach the broadest audience possible. While teaching and knowledge-sharing may set humans above other species, I think what truly raises an individual’s level of success is their desire and willingness to learn. Again, SPIE is here to enable your learning by making knowledge accessible. Whether you want to gain basic optics understanding, hone your skills, or keep abreast of cutting-edge research, SPIE is here as your knowledge partner.

Your SPIE Membership gives you numerous opportunities to advance your career with its many educational offerings. Whether taking one of the more than 200 short courses, buying a new book from SPIE Press, reading the latest journal articles, attending a conference and listening to talks, or walking the exhibit floor and talking to vendors and suppliers, SPIE provides a unique and virtually endless amount of learning.

I’m lucky to have a career teaching and researching biomedical optics in Arizona. As 2024 SPIE President, I am enjoying the opportunity to engage with SPIE Members on a global scale. Whether sharing my experiences as a woman in optics with students from Australia National University or debating the merits of different imaging modalities for early cancer detection with colleagues in Germany, SPIE continues to give me many opportunities to teach and learn.

This year, I challenge you to engage in one new way to teach and learn with SPIE. Speak at a new conference, give a product demo, talk with a student chapter, or take a short course. My own resolution is to attend a plenary talk on an adjacent technology at every conference I attend. I can’t wait to benefit from my colleagues’ excitement to teach me!



Jennifer Barton

2024 SPIE President


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