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BISO Events Calendar

Events of US National
Committees and
international unions
associated with BISO



U.S. Advisory Committee to ICO

The National Academy of Sciences is the U.S. adhering body of the International Commission for Optics (ICO) and it maintains its relationship with the commission through the U.S. Advisory Committee (USAC)/ICO. ICO is an Affiliated Commission of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) and part of the International Science Council (ISC) that contributes to the progress and diffusion of knowledge in the field of optics.


In Memoriam: James (Jim) Harrington and Bobbie Lively
BISO was saddened to learn about the passing of Jim Harrington on June 20, 2018. Jim was a valued and valuable member of the USAC/ICO and the ICO. He served one term as chair of the USAC/ICO and three terms as ICO treasurer. A special memorial tribute has been posted on the SPIE website at Jim made numerous contributions to the international optics and photonics community, and he will be greatly missed.

The USAC-ICO also mourns the loss of Bobbie Lively on May 17, 2018. For many years, Bobbie was the SPIE staff representative on the committee where she provided invaluable insights, knowledge, and guidance. Her love for her profession and her quiet, diplomatic style made her an incredible asset to both the national and international optics and photonics community.

2017 ICO GA Photo - Kathie Bailey

International Day of Light
Due to the great success of the International Year of Light 2015, UNESCO approved an International Day of Light (IDL) to be celebrated every year on May 16.  The purpose of IDL is to “provide an annual focal point for the continued appreciation of the central role that light plays in the lives of the citizens of the world in areas of science, culture, education, sustainable development, and in fields as diverse as medicine, communications and energy.”  Members of the USAC-ICO have been very active in the IDL initiative. See for more information. 

2018 ICTP Winter College Focused on Extreme Non-linear Optics, Attosecond Science and High-field Physics
The 2018 Winter College on Optics highlighted extreme light science, ranging from ultra short and ultra intense laser pulse generation, to attosecond and Free Electron Laser (FEL) technology. The Winter College also focused on applications of attosecond pulse generation in atomic and molecular physics, photo-chemistry and nanoscience, and the application of extreme light sources to matter-radiation interactions.

The Winter College was held at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy, on February 2-16, 2018, following a preparatory school January 29-February 2.   
This event was sponsored by the ICO, SPIE, the Optical Society (OSA), the European Optical Society (EOS), Società Italiana di Ottica e Fotonica (SIOF), and the International Society on Optics Within Life Sciences (OWLS).  In addition, the USAC-ICO sponsored a U.S. graduate student to attend the Winter College. For more information, see

ICO-24 Held in Japan in August 2017
The 24th Congress and General Assembly of the ICO was held August 21-25, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan. The U.S. Delegation consisted of John Greivenkamp (chair), Irina Novikova, and Joe Niemela. Duncan T. Moore, a U.S. delegate, limited his participation in the General Assembly to his role as ICO Past President and Chair of the ICO Nominating Committee. SPIE, OSA, and IEEE Photonics Society, all three of which are society members of ICO, also had delegates at the meeting.
A highlight of the meeting was the Opening Ceremony that was attended by Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan as well as other dignitaries. 
Two major topics of great concern to the U.S. delegation and the USAC/ICO were the ICO Strategic Plan and a proposal to elevate the ICO to union status within the International Council for Science (ICSU). The USAC-ICO had offered a number of comments and suggestions for improvement to the draft strategic plan during a meeting with some of the ICO officers in January 2017. The U.S. delegation, SPIE, and OSA did not think the strategic plan incorporated enough of the proposed changes; nevertheless, the plan was approved. See ICO Strategic Plan, 2017-2023:
The USAC/ICO and the U.S. delegates to the ICO General Assembly also had numerous discussions regarding the ICO elevation plan. While they believe that a union for optics and photonics could be useful, they strongly disagreed with the elevation plan as written. This opposition was shared by IUPAP, ICO’s parent union, and as a result, the elevation plan was not presented to the ICO General Assembly for a vote or approval. 
Reports from ICO members, international societies, and the ICO Bureau were received and discussed. In addition, ICO co-sponsorship and endorsement of various international conferences and schools were reviewed. Further information on all of these are all contained in Towards ICO-24:

Joe Niemela (U.S.) was elected as ICO Treasurer. ICO Vice Presidents will include Kent Choquette (IEEE Photonics Society), John Howell (OSA), and Carmina Londono (SPIE).
Major topics addressed during the Congress sessions included: 
1. Optical Design, Optical Materials, and Photo Lithography
2. Vision, Color, Display and Lighting
3. Optical Metrology
4. Optical Imaging and Optical Information Processing
5. Advanced Microscopy and Spectroscopy
6. Biomedical Optics/Photonics
7. Nonlinear Optics
8. Ultrafast Phenomena and Ultrafast Optics
9. High Power Lasers and Applications
10. X-ray and High-energy Optics
11. Microwave/Millimeterwave/THz Photonics
12. Near Field Optics, Plasmonics, and Metamaterials
13. Photonic Crystal, Nano Structures and Functions
14. Optoelectronics and Photonic Devices
15. Optical MEMS and Micro-optics
16. Quantum Optics and Atom Optics
17. Fiber Optics

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. 

Light Our Future: The National Photonics Initiative
The U.S. Advisory Committee for Optics, through its participating societies, continues to support the 
National Photonics Initiative, which grew out of the NRC report, Harnessing Light II, Optics and Photonics: Essential Technologies for our Nation, released in 2013. The committee was instrumental in the early stages of the report, writing a white paper which outlined the need to update the original Harnessing Light report (1998). The white paper eventually served as the basis for the study.
Harnessing Light II provides a current assessment of optics, photonics, and optical engineering in the United States, prioritizes research grand-challenge questions to fill technological gaps, and recommends actions to support global leadership in photonics-driven industry. The report, conducted by the NRC Board on Manufacturing and Engineering Design, recommended that the federal government develop a "National Photonics Initiative" to bring together academia, industry, and government to steer federal research and development funding and activities.
Following one of the report's key recommendations, SPIE and four other photonics and optics societies launched the National Photonics Initiative (NPI), a collaborative alliance among industry, academia and government. The NPI effort is being led by founding sponsors SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, and The Optical Society (OSA), and sponsored by three additional societies -- the American Physical Society (APS), the IEEE Photonics Society, and the Laser Institute of America (LIA). As noted on the NPI website, 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.
Activities and Events
Resource Links
ICO Webpage
Contact the USAC/ICO

Kathie Bailey, Director
Pam Gamble, Administrative Associate

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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