WASHINGTON—The Optica Foundation announces a new opportunity for Black scientists and engineers: The program provides visibility, community and resources for 10 Black scientists annually via financial support of US$7,500. Additionally, they will receive professional development resources from the society, including student membership and mentorship. By 2026, 50 scholarships will be awarded, creating a global network of Black scientists focused on optics and photonics (optica.org/amplifyscholarship).
This program was developed by the 2016-2020 Optica Ambassadors in response to the lack of Black representation in optics and photonics.
“We took action to develop a program to improve representation in our field,” said Antigone Marino, 2016 Optica Ambassador, current director on the foundation board and chair of the scholarship’s fundraising committee. “We looked at ourselves and the society overall and realized we had to come together to improve opportunities fostering achievement and success for Black students.”
The five-year endowment supporting these scholarships was created with a founding donation of US$125,000 from Thorlabs Inc and has been joined with an additional founding donation of US$120,000 from Facebook. View all contributors at optica.org/amplifyscholarship.
“As a contributor myself, I recognized we must support Black scientists and engineers at the start of the journey to engage and maintain their interest in optics and photonics,” said Eric Mazur, foundation board chair. “Black representation in our field is not just a US issue, and this scholarship is poised to make an impact worldwide.”
This program is considered a pilot, and, following an evaluation of its success over five years, the foundation plans to explore the expansion of the program to other underrepresented groups globally.
Candidates are undergraduate and graduate-level students who identify as Black. The scholarship is awarded based on need, academic performance and demonstrated potential. The program will begin accepting applications in November 2021 along with a campaign highlighting Black scientists and engineers worldwide (optica.org/amplifyblackvoices).
About the Optica Foundation
The Optica Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation established by Optica (formerly OSA) in 2002. The foundation carries out charitable activities in support of the society’s mission of promoting the generation, application, archiving, and worldwide dissemination of knowledge in optics and photonics. We cultivate the next generation of leaders and innovators in the community as they move through advanced degree programs and become active members of research, engineering and business communities around the globe. The foundation also works to secure the endowments for Optica’s awards and honors programs. For more information, visit optica.org/foundation.