Optica Foundation appoints St Andrews researcher as 2024 Ambassador

Tuesday 12 December 2023

An early career researcher from the University of St Andrews has been named as an emerging leader in the optics and photonics community and ‘one to watch’ in 2024.

Dr George O Dwapanyin, an early-career researcher from the School of Physics and Astronomy, was announced as one of ten exceptional Optica Foundation Ambassadors for 2024, the first Ambassador to be appointed by Optica from a Scottish university.

Following a competitive application process, Ambassadors were chosen for their outstanding dedication to Optica and the optics community. These emerging leaders are set to provide guidance and advice to a global community of young optics and photonics researchers.

Dr George O. Dwapanyin
Dr George O Dwapanyin

George is a Ghanaian early career researcher at St Andrews. His research currently dwells on advanced imaging techniques such as digital holographic microscopy and nonlinear imaging, as well as applications of Raman spectroscopy in the food and liquor industries. 

Speaking about his appointement, George said: “On a broader spectrum, Optica and St Andrews both have strong reputations for their desire to make a lasting positive impact in the lives of students and the global community.

“It is an honour for me to get to serve and represent both institutions. I know with the support of the University community, we can all come together to project the names of these noble institutions onto greater heights for together we can achieve greatness.”

“Since 2016, our dedicated Ambassadors have offered career guidance, shared invaluable technical expertise, and extended mentorship to our student members,” said Eric Mazur, 2024 Optica Foundation President. “Rooted in our fundamental principles of integrity, inclusivity, impact, and innovation, this programme is designed to instill and fortify our core values in the upcoming cohort of scientists, engineers, and corporate trailblazers.”

Optica (formerly OSA), Advancing Optics and Photonics Worldwide, is the society dedicated to promoting the generation, application, archiving and dissemination of knowledge in the field. Founded in 1916, it is the leading organisation for scientists, engineers, business professionals, students and others interested in the science of light. Optica’s renowned publications, meetings, online resources and in-person activities fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications, and accelerate scientific, technical and educational achievement.

Supported by the Foundation’s annual fund, Ambassadors engage with student chapters, offering training and sharing insights through webinars and meetings. Their role extends to nurturing young researchers, fostering a lifelong sense of belonging and purpose in the field of optics and photonics. They are instrumental in advocating for a diverse and inclusive photonics ecosystem, bridging academic and industrial spheres.

As emerging optics and photonics community leaders, Optica Ambassadors share their experiences and perspectives with students and early career professionals. They provide career advice, technical knowledge and mentorship.

Professor Ian Bonnell, Head of the School of Physics and Astronomy at St Andrews, added: “We are exceptionally proud of George for receiving this distinction – he is the first Optica Ambassador to be appointed from a Scottish university and joins a select list of leading lights in optics.

“George is an excellent choice as an Ambassador, not only because of his outstanding research in applying optics to problems ranging from in-vitro fertilisation to alcohol authentication, but also because of the leading role he takes in promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in the sciences. This ambassador position will allow George to continue to develop as a leader for the next generation of optics and photonics researchers, and to continue his work in inspiring future scientists.

All programme participants receive a lifetime Ambassador distinction visible in the member directory for their continuing efforts to serve the greater optics and photonics community.

Once selected, an Ambassador begins a year of service. The following benefits are available during this period:

  • Full registration and accommodation for the 2024 Level Up and FiO/LS Annual Meeting.
  • A stipend to spend on Ambassador-organised initiatives.
  • Registration to one Optica-managed meeting of the Ambassador’s choice.
  • Additional support upon request to support professional development-focused events.
  • Recognition in Optica publications.

Launched in 2016, the programme was continued at the request of the Centennial Advisory Panel in 2017. In 2018, the foundation absorbed this programme as a high-profile professional development activity, directly impacting students and early career professionals.

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.

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