Wednesday, April 28, 2010

CLEO: Some Events Overview

It's been a hectic week of staying in the lab till late, getting new exciting results, and preparing for two local events at the University of Toronto. Both of them will take place next week.

Next Thursday I am attending the University of Toronto Connection event aiming at establishing a connection between Academy and Industry. There will be talks given by faculty, students, and industry representatives, poster sessions, coffee breaks... There will be lots of great opportunities for networking - something that I am primarily searching for - especially now, as it will soon be time for me to take another career step (I am currently a postdoc).

I am very excited to gain a new prospective on interaction between universities and companies. A way ago, I used to think that industry and academic research do not have that much in common. But I am getting more and more evidence that they are not as far as it seems. In fact, there is some positive feedback (just like in a laser cavity) - industry and academic research stimulate each other. Indeed, how a university research project can be funded without proving useful for future applications? As well as industrial developments are based on prior knowledge obtained at the university level. Sounds obvious? I still remember that it was not always obvious to me. I'll go and find out more about it next week and will share my impressions with everyone.

...It reminds me about the upcoming CLEO conference - there is another clear example of the area where the industrial and academic research interests converge. Let's take, for example, the Exhibit that typically takes place in the middle of the conference (opens on Tuesday, May 18). That is a good example of how industry is fulfilling our (academic researchers') dreams by coming up with yet even more novel and convenient equipment to make our lab activities more enjoyable. This is a clear example of "industry for academic research" situation, even though it is more natural to meet the opposite - in our attempts to produce some useful results that could interest an industrial partner.

Another event that I am going to participate in at the University of Toronto next week is Science Rendezvous - an outreach activity for the public with the aim to give our visitors a taste of what's going on in science. I have been participating in this kind of fun outreach activities since I was a graduate student. I like to find simple ways to explain complicated optical concepts to people without an optics background, including kids. We are setting up a few simple optical demos, including making a telescope and microscope, spatial filtering, polarization experiment, "Red sunset" thingamy (a whole bunch of tiny particles scattering light) and, of course, some laser activities.

This brings me to another important part of the upcoming CLEO conference - Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Laser Symposium - which will take place on Sunday, May 16, at 3 p.m. It is a part of the reason why I bought my airplain ticket to arrive to California a bit earlier - not just to have an opportunity to visit San Francisco, but also to be right on time for that exciting event. There are going to be many distinguished presenters, so don't miss it! 50th Laser Anniversary happens only once: the next significant one will be in 50 years, which is way too far from now. A more informal related event - Lasers Rock! Concert - will take place on Tuesday, May 18. It is amasing that there are so many artistic people among scientists to fill in the program of a whole concert! Lasers indeed rock. And laser scientists do too!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Greetings to all who happens to read this. It is a bit more than three weeks left before CLEO. I am currently at home, writing my first blog to express how much I am looking forward to the upcoming conference.

Perhaps, many of you know how it is easy sometimes to get too involved in your everyday activities, hardly ever finding time to look around and see what other people in your field are doing. I for one do not check the newly published papers every day. Do you? So concentrated trying to solve another research problem, frustrated dealing with troubles and excited about small intermediate achievements, almost loosing a big picture of what I am trying to accomplish... This is the way I feel right now. It is high time for a conference! And not just another conference, but the largest conference in the field of Optics - CLEO/QELS.

I am looking forward to all these exciting talks and events, to seeing my friends (I happen to have a lot of friends in San Francisco area, and even more attending CLEO) and people I used to work with while at graduate school, to meeting new people, to establishing new connections and potential collaborations. Another three weeks of hard and (hopefully) productive work, and back to the world of Optics in its full diversity and color!

Oh, I'd better start planning my attendance soon - not to miss any great talks and events. I still remember what happens during such large-scale conferences: you try to plan your schedule to decide what talk to listen, but there are more than ten parallel sessions, outstanding speakers in about five of them presenting at the same time, about three simultaneous talks relevant to your research topic, and you wish you could be in a quantum world to spread your wave function over all the sessions! Doesn't it sound familiar?

See you all at CLEO!!!