Otago Optics Chapter
The University OSA Student Chapter was established in 2009, followed by the Otago University SPIE Student Chapter in 2012 (the first and only NZ SPIE chapter!). The aims of our joint Otago Optics Chapter are to enhance the quality of student life in optics related fields through the promotion of student community, student education, and industrial contact. The Chapter organises and participates in local, national, and international events as well as optics outreach within the University of Otago and the wider community. As a member of our chapter, you can be involved in a range of outreach activities, social events and professional development opportunities, such as student symposiums. As a student member of OSA and SPIE you are also entitled to apply for various student grants, alongside a wide range of other benefits.
If you are interested to join us or want to know more, please feel free to email us or drop by Room 524 within the Physics Department and talk to Petra.
About OSA and SPIE
The Optical Society of America's membership and activities include a global community of scientists, educators, engineers, technicians, students and business leaders with an interest in optics and photonics. OSA is committed to fostering the global optics and photonics community, particularly in countries with developing optics communities. OSA Student Chapters receive a wide array of exclusive benefits and valuable career-building opportunities, such as grants, awards, and networking opportunities.
SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, was founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. Students are an important part of the Society, comprising about 1/3 of its total membership. Student Members of SPIE are eligible for scholarships, travel grants, and for participation in the leadership of student chapters. Funding from SPIE is designed to support the professional development of students in optics & photonics. Students also give back to the Society by performing a tremendous amount of outreach in their local communities, spreading knowledge and excitement for the impact of optics in our lives.
Capture Science - H2O Photography competition 2017
The Capture Science Photography Competition encourages entrants to explore the science behind their beautiful photographs, by not only entering a photo but also a caption explaining the science behind it! In 2017, in its third year running, the theme for the competition was H2O. This theme inspired incredible creativity, and very high level science. Entries ranged from the natural world of frost and streams, to lab images of total internal reflection and polarisation in ice samples collected from Antarctica. We were dazzled by water droplets in spider webs, and splashes frozen in time. We were particularly impressed by those who not only photographed a scene but created it themselves, with household items such as soda water, lights and food dye. Our two judges were selected for their interest in both science and art. Lynn Taylor is an Artist and Teacher with an interest in projects collaborating between art and science. Ian Griffin is an Astronomer and the current Director of the Otago Museum, with a love for aurora photography. Three key criteria directed the judges in their selection: aesthetic appeal; clarity of the science; and originality. However, with over 200 photos and captions entered (surpassing both of the previous years) it was a tough year for them! A total of 24 prizes were awarded: 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in each of the three age categories, 5 Merit awards and 10 Spot Prizes. The spot prize included Young Scientist, Best Abstract Image, and Best Portfolio (awarded to a set of 3 photos). A School Participation prize was also presented to the school with the most entries.
The prize winners were invited to the Department of Physics for a prize giving, where they shared nibbles and drinks and were presented with their prizes. this was followed by lab tours of two physics labs. The winning photos were displayed in an exhibition at the Otago Museum for a week during the school holidays, giving a huge exposure to the winning images, and the competition!
Top: Otago physics student Andrew Pauling lets visitors experience minus 20 degrees celsius inside the Cold room, following the prize giving in the department
Bottom: Some of the prize winning photos on display in the Otago Museum
Central Otago Outreach Trip 2016
Left: A beautiful view of the outreach destination taken from the Alexandra Clock
On 29 and 30 August 2016 a team of eight volunteers visited 10 classes across five schools in the Central Otago region. A team of four volunteers also travelled to Roxburgh on 22 August to visit STAND Health Camp. The trips were funded by an Education Outreach Grant from SPIE awarded to the postgraduate students of the University of Otago Physics Department. The main focus of the trip was to demonstrate some experiments related to basic properties of light such as reflection, diffraction, polarisation, florescence and the colours in white light. The demonstrations were performed using some resources available in OSA's Optics Suitcase and some resources from the Otago Optics Chapter. It was a great opportunity for the school children to interact with young scientists from the University of Otago. Also, the 2016 outreach trip volunteer team reflected a good gender balance.
Outreach team for Central Otago trip
This year's team had Petra Fersterer, Lewis Williamson, Jay Bhana and Rob McDonald from OOC and Kris Roberts, Finn Webber, Mike Smith, Elizabeth Roxburgh and Nick Mitchell who were happy to engage with the school kids and talk about "Light".
Left: A warm welcome to Alexandra Primary School
Alexandra Primary School won the school participation prize in the Capture Science photography competition by sending the maximum number of entries. The Year 7 students who entered the competition got to enjoy the full range of experiments shown by the team of 8 volunteers and additional hands on making kaleidoscope. The school was also presented with three printed collections of the photographs entered by its students to the Capture Science 2016.
Left: Elizabeth explaining the colours of light to Year 7 students at Alexandra Primary
Above right: Mike Smith (Otago Museum Science communicator) talks to a class at Alexandra Primary
In addition, Tokoiti School and St Mary's from Milton, Roxburgh Area School and Clyde Primary were also visited, making this trip a huge success by engaging with a total of 229 students.
Above left: Making science fasionable with the cool rainbow glasses showing diffraction of light.
Above right: Kids playing with heat sensitive liquid crystal sheet
What a great morning. All the kids loved every minute of your time spent with them. A shame we couldn't do this with the whole school. Even little guys would love just the hands on. Managed to get all staff in to view and keep them focused on having fun with science. Your team is amazing and I hope this may be a happening thing over the years.
Once again - thank you and your team so much for a wonderful experience.
Capture Science - Earth, Space and Weather Photography Competition 2016 (7 July 2016)
Left: Capture Science winning entries on display at Otago Museum
After a great Success of Luminescence 2015 the Otago Optics Chapter ran a community photography competition with the theme Capture Science-Earth, Space and Weather. The entrants were asked to capture the science in natural phenomena around them and explain the underlying scientific concept(s). We had an encouraging response from people of Otago/Southland who sent us close to 200 entries. The photographs were judged under four different categories: Children 12 and under, Teen 13-17, Adults Amatuer and Adults Professional. The winning entries wre displayed for one week at the Otago Museum as part of the New Zealand Science Festival.
The prize giving was held in the Physics Department, where all the winners and their families were invited. The physics postgrads also joined the event as the evening celebration also doubled as a mini 100th Birthday Party for OSA. Yes! There was a big cake and balloons. The photography competition and the event was jointly sponsored by OSA, SPIE and Quantum Science Otago. Following the prize giving ceremony, the visitors were invited to take a tour of three research labs. To read more about the event please follow the link.
Undergraduate Student Symposium (12 May 2016)
In May our chapter held a student symposium where 2nd and 3rd year undergraduate students were invited to talks given by Physics postgrads. We had a total of 12 excellent talks from Honours, Masters and PhD students from our department. The event helped undergraduate students to know about the ongoing research in our department and life as a physics postgraduate student.
Pool Night (12 May 2016)
Keeping up with our tradition, a group of about 30 physicists, both undergrads and postgrads, went along to the Poolhouse to enjoy pool and pizza with subsidised drinks. The tournament had 10 teams of two playing knock out. It was great to see that the final game came down to a postgrad vs undergrad team with the undergrads winning the tournament. Congratulations! to our winners who got to take home some nice chocolates.
11/03/16 Recruitment Pizza Party and AGM
All of our existing and potential new members were invited along to the recruitment pizza party and AGM. The formal part of the evening consisted of a speech by the outgoing president, and new chapter officers for the year 2016/2017 were elected - congratulations to Petra, Jay, Rob, Fan, Madhuri, Lewis and Bianca!
Everyone then had a chance to socialise over pizza and drinks. New members had the chance to sign up to OSA and SPIE as a part of our chapter, and we now have 28 student members plus 2 alumni members - our biggest membership to date!
March 2016 Logo Competition
Our joint OSA/SPIE chapter was officially renamed this year to the Otago Optics Chapter (OOC) and a logo competition was organised to select a new logo for OOC. We had 18 entries from 8 budding graphic designers. The competition was very close, but after 3 rounds of voting by chapter members the "revamped" version of our original logo came out on top. All entrants were awarded a block of chocolate, and the 2nd place entry - the LED logo by Nanako Shitara - awarded a $50 supermarket voucher.
22-27/11/15, IONS KOALA 2015
IONS KOALA is the Conference on Optics, Atoms and Laser Applications held annually in Australia and New Zealand. The conference is organised for students, by students, and brings together a large group of Honours, Masters and PhD students from New Zealand, Australia and beyond. KOALA aspires to foster an environment where young researchers can share their expertise, discuss new ideas, relax, and socialise while building long-lasting networks that will continue to support them throughout their careers.
IONS KOALA was co-hosted as a collaboration between the Otago Optics Chapter and the University of Auckland OSA Student Chapter and was held from 22nd - 27th November on the University of Auckland Campus. Since the inaugural conference in 2008 in Brisbane, KOALA has been continually expanding and evolving. KOALA 2015 was the second ever kiwi-KOALA and we are very proud to say that it was the biggest and most international to date, with a total of 107 attendees from institutions across 10 different countries: New Zealand, Australia, Japan, China, Singpore, Malaysia, the UK, France and Austria! Of these, 98 were students (13 from the Otago Physics Department!).
We were fortunate to be hosting KOALA during the UNESCO International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies (IYL 2015). The scientific programme featured five truly inspiring plenary speakers working in a variety of fields across optics and photonics, two of whom were supported by our chapter through the OSA and SPIE travelling lecturer programs. Their talks focused on trends in optical communications, advances in atomtronics circuits, uses of ultra-short pulses, medical imaging and surgical robots, and insights into careers and connections in photonics. Four of our plenary speakers travelled from the USA and the UK to be a part of this event, for which we are very grateful!
One of these was Nobel Laureate William D. Phillips of the Joint Quantum Institute, National Institute of Standards and Technology and University of Maryland, who generously gave his time to present both a plenary talk and a public lecture, entitled "Einstein, Time and Light". The public lecture was an entertaining, informative and down-to-earth account of the way that gases can be cooled to ultracold temperatures for use in atomic clocks, included many exciting experimental demonstrations, and was thoroughly enjoyed by the ~500 strong audience (including many children).
The majority of student attendees also made amazing contributions to our program and helped to create an active, fun and supportive atmosphere. There were a total of 5 tutorials, 45 oral presentations and 35 poster presentations throughout the course of the week, covering a wide variety of topics such as laser machining, spectroscopy and atom optics, and all presented to an exceptionally high standard.
As well as its strong scientific program, KOALA boasts extended social and professional development opportunities, which kicked off on Monday evening at the Industry and Innovation Night. This event was inspired by the Industry Workshop held at IONS KOALA 2014 and served as a platform for networking between conference attendees and representatives from the Australasian optics community; an opportunity for students to find out more about the exciting world of optics and photonics industry and innovation. The evening began with a keynote presentation by Dr Michelle Stock who gave conference delegates her insights on the career path for young researchers after completing their academic career. Specifically she referrred to her own experiences developing her startup company and consulting firm. This was followed by a panel discussion where Michelle was joined by three other industry and innovation experts from a variety of backgrounds. The panelists answered questions from the audience about their careers, advice on getting into industry and innovation, and the relationship between industry and academia, to name a few.
Wednesday was our social day, where attendees took the day to kick back and relax while socialising with their peers and enjoying some of the things that Auckland has to offer. Many spent the day swimming, walking and playing soccer at St Heliers Bay, a seaside suburb east of the Auckland City Centre with one of the region's most picturesque beaches overlooking Rangitoto Island and Waitemata Harbour, while others stayed in the city and checked out art galleries, museums and the Sky Tower.
Our Conference Dinner was held on Thursday at Mecca Stonehouse in Mission Bay, where attendees enjoyed a sit-down meal in a covered outdoor area overlooking the beach and unbeatable views of the Hauraki Gulf. As well as a way to wrap up the conference and socialise with conference attendees, the evening was dedicated to celebrating IYL2015 and the outreach efforts of our conference delegates during the year. It served as an opportunity to look back on the year that has been IYL 2015 via a series of student presentations, reflect on what we have ll achieved and spark up conversations around how we can continue to promote light and light-based technologies beyond 2015.
Overall, KOALA 2015 was a huge success and we throughly enjoyed hosting the event in collaboration with the Auckland students.
17/10/15, OSA Student Leadership Conference 2015
In October, Otago Optics Chapter member Maddy Cormack travelled to San Jose to represent our OSA student chapter at the Student Leadership Conference, a part of OSA's annual Frontiers in Optics/Laser Science Conference. The Student Leadership Conference brings together chapter officers from around the globe each year to network amongst their peers and to learn more about successful chapter management.
08/08/15, SPIE Student Leadership Workshop 2015
Our current Otago Optics Chapter president, Bianca Sawyer, travelled to San Diego to represent our SPIE student chapter at the Student Leadership Workshop, a part of the week-long SPIE Optics and Photonics Meeting. The workshop was facilitated by Jean-Luc Doumont, and almost 250 students discussed what being a leader is about, how to communicate across cultures, and how to go "from ideas to achievements".
Bianca also attended other parts of O+P, such as the Optics Outreach Games, Women in Optics Discussion Panel, "Lunch with the Experts", "Women Celebrate the IYL", various poster sessions, research talks and professional development seminars and the job fair in the exhibition hall, as well as presented a poster on our student chapter activities and gave a talk about her work in Optical Trapping. Overall it was a hugely worthwhile event that offered a chance to network with other chapter leaders, employers, and others working in Optics and Photonics all around the globe.
18/07/15, Luminescence: The Spectrum of Science
The Otago Optics Chapter and other physics department students ran a day long community outreach festival to celebrate the International Year of Light 2015. Luminescence consisted of a wide range of interactive demonstrations on concepts and technologies involving light and a series of public lectures by University Professors aimed at ages 12+ on what light is, how it creates phenomena such as sunsets and rainbows, how it behaves near black holes, and how it can be used to manipulate atoms, discover exoplanets and probe brain function. The event had a range of activities that were fun and engaging for all ages. Favourites amongst the kids were rainbow shadows, a laser maze and kaleidoscope making. Older attendees enjoyed stalls on spectroscopy, fibre optics, the human eye and more!
There was also an exhibition of the entries of our Luminescence Photo Competition that asked entrants to capture a photo showing the beauty and behaviour of light and how it is important in our world. We got some really incredible entries and a selection of them, along with all the winners can be viewed here.
The event was generously sponsored by SPIE, OSA, the Otago Physics Department and Quantum Science Otago.
8/05/15, OSA AGM/Recruitment Pizza party
Like last year, this year's AGM for the Otago chapter of OSA was also a recruitment event. Roughly 20 students attended and several new members joined the Otago OSA chapter. A new Executive was voted in and everyone enjoyed the pizza and drinks in the Physics common room.
17/02/15, Student symposium
In February our chapter held a student symposium which was run alongside the Dodd-Walls Centre (DWC) launch symposium! We had 6 excellent talks from PhD students plus a poster session with 21 presentations from Honours, Masters and PhD students. This enabled inter-university discussion and networking between students from the 5 universities present in the DWC!
19/10/2014, OSA Student Leadership Conference 2014
Our current OSA and SPIE student chapter president, Bianca Sawyer, travelled to Tucson, Arizona to represent our OSA chapter at the Student Leadership Conference, a part of the week-long Frontiers in Optics conference. This was a chance to network with chapter leaders from all around the globe and to learn more about chapter management and the opportunities that exist for OSA student chapters. There were also a range of fantastic speakers, including James Fisher, Vice President of the optical components and vibration control at the Newport Corporation, and William Moerner, 2014 Chemistry Nobel Laureate.
Above left: A group shot of all of the OSA student leaders who attended the conference (Photo credit: OSA.org) Above right: Bianca presenting a poster detailing our chapter activities over the past year
Jan 2015, Otago and Auckland to co-host IONS KOALA 2015!
The Otago OSA/SPIE student chapter and Auckland OSA student chapter are the confirmed co-hosts of this year's IONS KOALA (International OSA Network of Students (K)Conference on Optics, Ato,s and Laser Applications - yes, it's a mouthful!) This successful annual conference is run for students, by students, and we are very excited about taking it on! There are a myriad of details still to be worked out, but the conference will likely be held at the University of Auckland in late November and is the first in a series of awesome collaborations between the students of the Dodd-Walls Centre. If you'd like to find out more or are interested in helping us run this extraordinary event please don't hesitate to get in touch!
Left: The KOALA mascot being passed on to Xavi, acting on behalf of the Otago and Auckland chapters, at last year's IONS KOALA in Adelaide. (Photo credit: Uni of Adelaide OSA Student Chapter)
4/9/2014, Outreach trip to Southland
Above left: The outreach team from left: Scott, Evan, Bianca, Kris, Kussi and Fan. Above right: Lake Te Anau
On the 4th and 5th of September, a group of OSA and SPIE volunteers travelled to 6 primary schools in the Southland area to present an optics outreach programme. This focused mainly on the "colours in white light" theme, assisted with resources from OSA's Optics Suitcase (temperature-selective reflection, diffraction, polarisation, materials engineering). We also took down a solar telescope, light boxes (to explore refletion and refraction), and a set of Rijke Tubes (to learn about sound waves), as one school has been investigating music this term. We also sparked up conversations on optics, technology and being a scientist with the kids and got them excited to learn more!
Above left: Fan enjoying teaching the kids about liquid crystals. Above right: Some youngsters from Gore seeing what they can do with the light-box
We decided to focus on mainly small, rural and low-decile schools, as these are the ones which often miss out on ourtreach programmes of this type. We also used this opportunity to give teachers information on next year's International Year of Light and to encourage them to incorporate an optics and photonics theme into their teaching for 2015. It was a really worthwhile trip and thoroughly enjoyed by pupils, teachers and volunteers alike.
Above left: Bianca teaching about polarisation with the clever use of a slinky. Above right: Kussi talks the class through his favourite elements.
We would like to say a big thank you to both SPIE and OSA for the funding required for this trip to go ahead, and also to the seven volunteers: postgrads Bianca Sawyer, Fan Hong and Kris Roberts, undergrads Kussi Hurtado, Scott van Heerden and Evan Cooper and postdoc Ian Whittaker - we couldn't have done it without you all!
Above left: Bianca fires up the Rijke tube. Above right: Ian teaches the kids that you can look directly at the sun.
This event was sponsored jointly by OSA and SPIE, and we would like to use this opportunity to acknowledge that next year is the International Year of Light, see here for details
22/8/2014, OSA/SPIE dinner
The members of our OSA and SPIE chapters, plus a few extra recruits, went out for dinner at Little India. The food was awesome, and our OSA president Bianca and SPIE ex-President Alex gave the group some very useful advice about travel grants and conferences. Congratulations to Matt for withstanding the spiciest dish.
18/8/2014, OCT lecture from guest speaker Prof. Kirill Larin
We were lucky enough to receive a talk from Professor Kirill Larin, from the University of Houston, about his groups work in biomedical imaging. The talk was pitched at a level where undergraduate students would be comfortable, and Professor Larin had many incredible videos to show us. The most mesmerising video was of blood vessels, tagged to fluoresce, rushing through a mice’s body to the beat of its heart.
19/05/2014 Pool night
About 25 physicists - both undergrad and postgrad - went along to the Poolhouse to enjoy some pizza, cheap drinks and a lot of pool. The doubles competition was fierce, and congratulations go to the winners A'kos and Rob, who narrowly won over Malcolm and Edward (pictured below). A few of the attendees were shocked at the high level of pool skill in our department, but which department would you expect to do well in a game of simple 2D elastic collisions?
Far left: Edward, A'kos, Rob and Malcolm
Left: Matt Pearce
04/04/2014 Members Recruitment Pizza Party and AGM
Just like last year, this year's AGM doubled as a recruitment event. About 20 students attended, a lot of which became new members. A new executive was elected, and everyone enjoyed the pizza and drinks on the blacony of the Physics Common Room. A flash design for member shirts was revealed, and many members ordered themselves one.
Right: Hamish models the new design for member shirts
7/11/2013 DoddWalls Centre Student Symposium, Otago University
The DWC Student Symposium was run in conjunction with the 7th annual Dodd Walls Symposium and was organised by the Otago OSA chapter. Seven postgraduate students gave talks on topics including dispersive probing of ultracold atoms, lithography, atom interferometry, BEC theory, molecule formation and biological tissue imaging. The event included a poster session and a symposium dinner at Filadelphios.
25/10/2013 SPIE Members Recruitment Event and AGM
The recruitment event was attended by about 20 postgraduate students. Free pizzas and drinks were supplied and a handful of new members recruited. This event doubled as the AGM, in which the new executive for 2013/2014 was welcomed. As we have a joint OSA/SPIE student chapter, the election for this was held at the OSA AGM earlier in the year.
24-26/2/2013 OSA University of Otago Student Chapter Outreach Trip to Central Otago
On Sunday the 24th of February, a group of eight members of the Otago University Physics department travelled to Central Otago to visit six primary schools in the area over the following Monday and Tuesday and present a range of optics related outreach activities. We made use of most of the components of the Optics Suitcase, supplied by OSA, and supplemented this with some optics outreach resources belonging to our department. The schools we visited are located several hours away from the nearest university. We chose this area specifically as it is not often visited by any sort of outreach groups, and made sure to include several small schools which can often get overlooked. The visits were very well received, and at every school students were very enthusiastic, keen to get involved in the demonstrations and asked lots of great questions. The teachers were very appreciative. The volunteers had lots of fun.
Students of Arrowtown School (left) and Holy Family Catholic School (right) learn with a Light Box under Leigh's supervision
12/4/2013 OSA Members Recruitment Event and AGM
The recruitment event was well attended, accompanied with free pizzas and drinks. We managed to recruit 11 new members on that night. The AGM was also held at the same time to elect the office bearers for 2013/2014.
16/9/2011 Undergrads meet postgrads pool night
The communication between postgraduates and undergraduates was a bridge that needed building. The Otago OSA chapter set about constructing that bridge by organising a social evening at the local pool house and showing all the undergraduates that we are not so scary. Unfortunately we got so carried away that we forgot to bring a camera so you will have to take our word for it.
22/7/2011 Sangria night
When one of the Otago OSA chapters founding members got a job in Spain, we decided to send him off in style with a night of sangria and sombreros. Enough said.
9/11/2010-3/12/2010 KOALA Conference, Selwyn College, Dunedin
The third annual Conference on Optics, Atoms, and Laser Applications (KOALA) was held at Selwyn College in Dunedin and organised by the Otago OSA chapter. The conference was run entirely by students for students and attracted 82 delegates and 2 invited speakers from New Zealand, Australia and the USA. The conference included a wide range of talks, poster presentations, lab tours and short courses and boasted a conference dinner at the historic Larnach castle.
30/1/2010 DoddWalls Centre Student Symposium, Weir House, Wellington
The DWC Student Symposium was run in conjunction with the 4th annual DoddWalls Symposium at Weir House in Wellington and was organised by the Otago OSA chapter.
Thirteen postgraduate students gave talks on topics including BoseEinstein Condensation theory, single atom trapping, quantum optics, and nonlinear optics. The symposium was initially set up to address a lack of opportunities the students had to formally present their work, attendees were from Otago University, Auckland University, and Massey University. The full day event was rounded off with a symposium dinner and drinks.
3/7/2009 Jack Dodd Centre Student Symposium, Castle lecture theatre, Dunedin
The JDC Student Symposium was a full day of talks given by students in the Jack Dodd Centre and organised by the Otago OSA chapter. Fourteen talks were presented from Honours, MSc, and PhD students giving them a chance to share their research in a formal setting. The event concluded with a group dinner for all the delegates.
4/4/2014 Members Recruitment Pizza Party and AGM
Just like last year, this year's AGM doubled as a recruitment event. About 20 students attended, a lot of which became new members. A new executive was elected, and everyone enjoyed the pizza and drinks on the balcony of the Physics Common Room. A flash design for member shirts was revealed, and many members ordered themselves one.
Current membershipPetra Fersterer
Yin Hsien Fung
Sue Ann Oh
Xavier Fernandez Gonzalvo
Gavin King (Alumni member)
Alexander Doronin (Alumni member)
Current executive (2016-2017)
The executive members are Petra Fersterer (president), Jay Bhana (vice-president), Fan Hong (secretary), Rob McDonald (treasurer), Madhuri Kumari (web rep), Lewis Williamson (social rep) and Bianca Sawyer (general support).