Save the dates: 27 January - 1 February 2024
Professional Development Event
Lunch and Learn: Equity in the Optics and Photonics Industry
1 February 2023 • 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM PST | Moscone West, Level 2 Community Lounge 
Join us for lunch and hear from a panel of industry professionals on what their organizations are doing to make the optics and photonics industry more inclusive. We’ll be discussing why organizations should care about diversity, what works when it comes to embedding equity and how we all have a part to play in building a more fair future.

Want to ask your question ahead of time? Submit it here: Panel Q&A


Jessica Wade
Department of Materials Research Fellow, Imperial College London

Dr Jess Wade is an Imperial College Research Fellow working in the Department of Materials at Imperial College London. Her research considers new materials for optoelectronic devices, with a focus on chiral organic semiconductors and how to optimise these chiral systems such that they can absorb/emit circularly polarised light as well as transport spin-polarised electrons. Outside of the lab, Jess is involved with several science communication and outreach initiatives. She is committed to improving diversity in science, both online and offline.


Kenneth Barber
Sr. Director of Engineering, Edmund Optics

Kenneth has over 24 years of experience in the photonics industry specializing in Project Management and Product Development. As Sr. Director of Engineering, he leads a global team of Designers and Project Managers in the US, Germany and China in the development of new product. Kenneth is the founder and Co-chair of Edmund Optics’ US Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. He holds a graduate certification in Project Management from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and received his BS in Optics from the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY.

Natalie Gibson
Research Scientist, Meta Reality Labs

Natalie Gibson is an Optical Scientist in the Display & Optics division at Reality Labs, Meta where she specializes in optical combiners for near-eye displays. Prior to that she worked at OptoFidelity, building optical metrology equipment for display components. Natalie holds a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from University of California, Berkeley and a B.S. in Chemistry from Queen’s University. Outside of her work life, she spends her time camping, foraging, and gardening with friends and family.

Jamie LaCouture
Communications & Engagement, Thorlabs, Inc.

Jamie LaCouture earned her MS in Management, Strategy, and Leadership from Michigan State University. Her prior education includes a BS in Communications and a BS in Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. Jamie’s tenure at Thorlabs is just over twelve years, where her most current role entails corporate communications and engagement efforts as well as corporate giving and community outreach. She seeks to drive employee engagement by connecting employees with causes they are passionate about and are willing to contribute to – largely related educational initiatives and youth development. As the point of contact for industry relations and university partnerships, Jamie has recently begun organizing diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts with several partners, to help advance Thorlabs mission to elevate underrepresented populations in the scientific community. In addition, she has launched an Ambassador Program to help build and foster relationships with university students and their labs, ensuring that Thorlabs fulfills its promise to customers, and future customers, to be a valuable and understanding scientific partner.