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BISO Home > USAC/ICO Homepage > USAC/ICO Activities and Events 

The USAC/ICO serves as a catalyst for U.S. involvement in ICO and links U.S. researchers in all subfields of optics to international activities. The value of USAC/ICO activities to the optics community and its societies is reflected in the commitments and investments made by these societies. 

Major activities supported by the USAC/ICO include:

 Light Our Future: The National Photonics Initiative
The U.S. Advisory Committee for Optics, through its participating societies, is actively supporting the National Photonics Initiative, which grows out of the NRC report, Harnessing Light II, Optics and Photonics: Essential Technologies for our Nation. The goals of the Initiative are to: • raise awareness of photonics and the impact of photonics in our everyday lives • increase cooperation and coordination among US industry, government and academia to advance photonics-driven fields • drive US funding and investment in areas of photonics critical to maintaining US economic competitiveness and national security. Read more about the importance of this project.

International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL 2015)
In recognizing 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL 2015), the United Nations recognized the importance of raising global awareness about how light-based technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture, and health. In the United States, SPIE and the Optical Society of America (OSA), two of the sponsoring societies of the USAC-ICO, played a major role in organizing and coordinating U.S. participation in IYL. Information can be found on the SPIE and OSA webpages.

The final report on IYL 2015 was released in October 2016. It highlights the many successes of the year, including 13,168 events in 147 countries. A companion UNESCO report, Inspired by the Light: Reflections from the International Year of Light 2015, was published by SPIE. 

DASER Discussion Forum on the International Year of Light: Presentation Videos Now Available 
Surgical goggles that see invisible light, the use of light as an artistic medium, the deployment of powerful new space telescopes, and soil powering LED lights were all topics explored at the DC Art and Science Evening Rendezvous (DASER) held at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on October 15, 2015. Samuel Achilefu (Washington University), Aviva Presser Aiden (Baylor College of Medicine), Evelyn Hankins (Smithsonian), and Michelle Thaller (NASA) gave presentations, and Kathie Bailey, BISO Director, gave the opening remarks. The U.S. National Committees for Optics and Astronomy have been particularly involved in the International Year of Light.

Each presentation is now available on the Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences' YouTube channel, organized in a DASER playlist and individually listed below:

Kathie Bailey: International Year of Light (3:32)
Aviva Presser Aiden: Dirt Power: Soil Microbes to Power LED Lights, Cell Phones, and Other Devices (10:31)
Samuel Achilefu: Making the Invisible Visible with NIR Surgical Goggles (13:57)
Evelyn Hankins: When Light Becomes Material in Contemporary Art (13:26)
Michelle Thaller: First Light: Opening New Eyes on the Universe (13:35)

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Hosts International Year of Light (IYL 2015) Symposium
The International Year of Light symposium Light for a Better World: A Celebration of U.S. Innovation was held Saturday, September 12, at the NAS Building in Washington, DC. NSF Director France Córdova gave opening remarks, which were followed by presentations from Shuji Makamura, Eric Betzig, Gerald Duffy, and Michael Liehr. A complete video of the event is available for download, and individual presentations can be viewed at

 The ICTP Winter College on Optics
The Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) and the International Commission for Optics organize the annual Winter College on Optics in Trieste, Italy. The theme varies from year to year, but the format always features lectures by international experts, internal seminars and group discussions, and laboratory demonstrations. For more information about past Winter Colleges, visit the ICTP scientific calendar page.

Active Learning in Optics and Photonics (ALOP) Workshops
The USAC/ICO, UNESCO, and the International Society of Optical Engineering (SPIE) have sponsored Active Learning in Optics and Photonics (ALOP) workshops. These week-long teacher training events for physics teachers from universities and senior high schools are typically held in developing countries since optics and photonics are among the few experimental physics areas that have been found to be relevant and adaptable to research and educational conditions in those countries.

ICO Triennial Congresses
The ICO Congress is a triennial meeting where new officials are elected, new initiatives discussed, and the agenda set for the next three years.  The most recent Congress (ICO-24) was held in Tokyo, Japan on August 21-25, 2017.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number 1708170. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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