August 30, 2016

A Welcome from the Director

Xi-Cheng Zhang, Director of the InstituteAs we start the 2016 fall semester, it is my pleasure to welcome all new and returning students, faculty, staff and members of The Institute.  The Institute of Optics was founded in 1929 as the first Optics education program in the United States of America. Here we continue to educate generations of leaders in the ever-growing field of Optics, and provide unparalleled advancements through research. Whether you are new, or a returning member of The Institute, I congratulate you on the decision to pursue your dreams and aspirations here. While you are here, The Institute of Optics is your home, and you will now always be a part of a strong academic community.

Our summer 2016 was filled with significant events, and I am proud to greet you by highlighting some of our news, such as:

•  ABET accreditation for our Optical Engineering program was approved retroactively from October 1, 2014. ABET enhances further opportunities, provides assurance of international recognition, and adds even greater value to the significant achievement of the degree. The process requires intensive team effort and is a reflection of the solid commitment of faculty and staff for our success.
•  We are pleased to introduce our new Assistant Professor of Optics, Dr. Jaime Cardenas. Dr. Cardenas is forming a research group to focus significant research on next generation photonic devices integrated on a chip using novel 2D materials. His group will work on solving critical problems in integrated photonics. 
•  Prof. Nicholas Vamivakas was successfully promoted to Associate Professor with tenure. Dr. Vamivakas joined The Institute as an Assistant Professor in July 2011, and this significantly early achievement reflects the stellar quality of his teaching, scholarship and service, as well as the University’s commitment to providing faculty of the highest order for our Institute!
•  Photon Camp 2016 featured 21 campers who explored Optics for a week in July through intensive laboratory research as they completed capstone projects and toured LLE and Optimax. While the program is a tribute to the dedication and synergy of faculty, students and staff working together, it is the impetus and dedication of both Dan Smith, our undergraduate program manager, and Per Adamson, Director of the Undergraduate Teaching Labs, that provides the foundation for continued success.
•  Our 8th endowed scholarship, joint with Physics, in honor of Emil Wolf, will officially be announced soon. If you are new to Optics, check out the bio of our honored Emil Wolf, who at 94 years of age is still engaged in research. His legacy in physical optics is amazing, and it is a privilege to have him in our ranks.
•  Our 55th Optics Summer Course Series with about 140 attendees in June featured two new integrated photonics courses. This annual program provides a unique environment in which engineers, scientists and technicians can learn about the fundamentals of optics and the advancing state of the art.
•  The group of 9 Optics undergraduate students participated in two events in leading Russian universities: in the International Conference on Laser Physics and Optics in the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI (Moscow) and in the Summer Research Camp in Photonics in ITMO University (Saint-Petersburg) which were held in May-June.
•  I was also honored to bring together world experts for an international workshop this summer exploring Bright Terahertz (THz) sources. Twenty two scientists representing leading THz groups from eight countries spent two days in a forum exchanging information, sharing ideas and working together to continue development in this frontier.
•  The connection with the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) is being reinforced and growing stronger.  We added three new LLE members to our faculty last year. This summer we established closer communication with Dr. Michael Campbell, the Deputy Director and Associate Director for Science, Research and Development, and Business Development for LLE.  The Institute of Optics and LLE have a rich history of synergy and the possibilities for future collaborative efforts are bright with promise.
Now is an exciting time to be in Rochester, at the University of Rochester and especially in The Institute of Optics. The Optical Society celebrates its 100th anniversary in Rochester this October, and we are honored to be integral in the celebratory activities.  Drop by the library to view some historical and significant displays, and plan now to attend the OSA Frontiers in Optics, being held October 17 through 21, 2016.
Under the leadership and support of our new Dean Wendi Heinzelman, and new Provost Rob Clark, we will continue to strengthen our Institute while we focus on building the best and brightest future.  We welcome you to academic year 2016/2017. May this semester be a very happy and successful start for all of us.
Best regards,
X.-C. Zhang
Director, and M. Parker Givens Professor
The Institute of Optics, University of Rochester