Global Women of Light Symposium at the 2016 Frontiers in Optics Conference (Rochester, NY)

WisteeConnect event at FiO

To celebrate the OSA’s 100th anniversary, WiSTEE Connect has collaborated with the OSA Foundation to organize an international symposium 'Global Women of Light' at the 2016 Frontiers in Optics meeting on October 17th 2016 in Rochester, NY. Over 100 participants from 25 countries and 80 institutions attended!

The program was as follows:

  11:00 – 11:30   Welcome Remarks and General Introduction about WiSTEE Connect (by Chad Stark, Executive Director of OSA Foundation and Jie Qiao, Chair of WiSTEE Connect)
  11:30 – 12:00   Panel Discussion: Intersecting Science and Entrepreneurship
  12:00 – 12:30   Round-Table Discussion 1: What are Two Key Elements to be Successful in Your Sector as Female Scientists?
  12:30 – 13:30   Lunch and Key Remarks by OSA CEO Elizabeth Rogan, NSF Program Directors Carmiña Londoño and Dominique Dagenais
  13:30 – 14:00   Round-Table Discussion 2: What are Two Things to Watch Out for and Suggestions for Overcoming Them?
  14:00 – 14:30   Round-Table Discussion 3: What can Funding Agencies/Professional Societies/Academic Institutions/Corporations do to Provide More Concrete Support for Female Scientists?
  14:30 – 16:30   AAUW Salary Negotiation Workshop
  16:30 – 17:00   Closing

The panelists included:


Amy Eskilson

President and CEO of Inrad Optics Inc.

Susana Marcos

Professor at the Institute of Optics at CSIC, Spain, co-founder of Plenoptika Inc. and 2EyesVision Inc., and fellow of OSA, EOS and ARVO

Christine Whitman

Chairman and CEO of Complemar Partners Inc. and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Rochester Institute of Technology


Jannick Rolland

Brian J. Thompson Professor of Optical Engineering at the Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester, co-founder of LighTopTech Corp, and fellow of OSA and SPIE

Dominique Dagenais

Program Director at the National Science Foundation, in the Electrical, Communications and Cyber Systems Division of the Engineering Directorate

Carmiña Londoño

Program Director for the NSF Engineering Research Centers Program and fellow of SPIE


Elizabeth Rogan

Chief Executive Officer of OSA, The Optical Society

Janet S. Fender

Chief Scientist and Scientific Advisor to the Commander, Air Combat Command USAF.  Past President of OSA, The Optical Society

Lynda Busse

Research Physicist at the Naval Research Laboratory


Shouleh Nikzad

Senior Research Scientist and Principal Engineer at NASA JPL

Clara Asmail

Senior Technical Advisor, NIST MEP

Jessica DeGroote Nelson

Director of Engineering at Optimax Systems Inc.


Arti Agrawal

Senior lecturer at City University London

Stefi Baum

Dean of the Faculty of Science and Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manitoba (Canada)

Gisele Benett

Associate Vice President for Research, Faculty Interaction and Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech., and fellow of OSA and SPIE


Ursula Gibson

Professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Michal Lipson

Professor at Columbia University and fellow of OSA and IEEE

Nozomi Nishimura

Assistant Professor at the Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University


Carle Pieters

Professor at Brown University

Kathleen Richardson

Professor at CREOL/College of Optics and Photonics at the University of Central FL and fellow of OSA, SPIE, ACerS and the Society of Glass Technology

Jie Qiao

Associate Professor of Optics at the Carlson Center for Imaging Science at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Founder and Chair WiSTEE Connect



Susan Houde-Walter

Co-founder, CEO and Chairman of the Board of LaserMax, Inc., Past President of OSA, The Optical Society


The symposium schedule and panelists information can be found here.

December 2015: Managing Stress and Leading a Balanced Life

Our event on Managing and Reducing Stress and Leading a Balanced Life has been held at RIT on December 2nd, 2015. Our guest speaker was Dr. Valerie Newman, Internist at Artemis/Lifetime Health.

April 2014: first regional event “Lean In together with WiSTEE Connect”

WiSTEE Connect launched the first regional event “LEAN IN together with WiSTEE Connect” at Rochester Institute of Technology on April 28th.  A lively blend of 61 women and 6 men actively participated in the opening presentation, the round table discussions and networking activities.  WiSTEE networks/committee  include representatives from Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Rochester, Nazareth College, Monroe Community College, Roberts Wesleyan College, Xerox Corporation, Optimax Systems Inc., Care Stream Health, Lifetime Health, IPLogic… WiSTEE was on Rochester TV news (click here to watch the video on Youtube).  


August 2013: “WiSTEE Going Global”

Dr. Jie Qiao introduced WiSTEE Connect’s vision and its activities in Rochester, NY to over 80 international attendees at the 2013 OSA-CIOMP International Summer Session. WiSTEE Connect horizontally or locally connects regional WiSTEE groups across universities and industries. It also vertically or globally connects with different professional societies to identify and provide opportunities for WiSTEE members.

All the female attendees at the OSA-CIOMP Summer Session took a photo together to celebrate the successful WiSTEE session.

Xiang Liu (on the right), the first WiSTEE-Boni travel grant recipient presented to Dr. Greg Forbes on Design Optimization for a Meter-Scale Deformable Optics” at the 2013 OSA-CIOMP International Summer Session.


May 2013: “Path to Entrepreneurship”

The May event for the Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Entrepreneurship (WiSTEE) group that took place on May 3rd, 2013 saw 39 attendees from more than 20 academic units across campus and industry – 32 of which were women – come together.  The attendees’ career stage again spans from faculties, researchers, business executive, entrepreneurs, graduate and undergraduate students. We are pleased to see that this “Path to Entrepreneurship “event has stimulated entrepreneurial thinking in the academic world, and has provided a framework for its members to add entrepreneurial thinking, strategy, and practice into their professional lives. This event also generated many cross-disciplinary interactions among students, scholars, and business people. Click here to read the May Event Newsletter and here for the presentation.

Wistee May Meeting
The 39 attendees were split almost equally among the four categories: faculties/researchers, graduate/undergraduate students, entrepreneurs/businesswomen, and staff.

WiSTEE members enjoyed active interactions with the invited entrepreneurs and among themselves during the networking and presentation sessions.

Wistee May meeting

Entrepreneurship is a way of thinking, reasoning, and acting for the purpose of value creation and capture

Entrepreneurial process is a balance of Opportunity, Resources,  and Team, by the Founder”

"Entrepreneurial strategy and process can be directly applied to research environment and can greatly empower women’s career”


May event

We gratefully thank the sponsorship from Susan B. Anthony Center for Women Leadership. We thank the sponsorship from Eugene Kowaluk Photography for capturing the moments of sharing entrepreneurial aspiration and experience.

April 2013

Wistee Women
WiSTEE member sharing the shaping moments of their career, April 5, 2013!

Thirty four attendees from 21 academic units across campus and industry, 30 of which were women, came together again for a successful event taken place at the Faculty Club on April 5th, 2013.  Dr. Jie Qiao, the group's founder and chair, a scientist at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, shared a vision of growing WiSTEE into WiSTEE Connect to gain regional connections and global impact.  WiSTEE Connect aims to overcome the critical mass issue at a typical STEE department of each regional university and provide concrete support to its members. The attendees’ career stage again spans from faculties, scientists, industry engineers, graduate and undergraduate students. They shared a candor and enlightening discussion on the shaping moments of their career.  

Wistee Event

Three excited news were shared among the group:

(1)                WiSTEE-Boni Travel Grant established, thanks to the generosity of Mr. Robert Boni and Ms. Diane Boni, with the former being a research engineer at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics and the latter being a K12 school district administrator and a PhD student at the Warner School, University of Rochester. The goal of this grant is to provide WiSTEE members with international exposure and perspectives, and enhance their academic and research experience. First recipient is Xiang Liu, junior, majoring in Optical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering and minoring in Business and Mathematics. She will use the fund to attend and present a poster at the international CIOMP-OSA Summer Session on Optical Engineering, Design, and Manufacturing in Changchun, China. Wistee Grant recipient

(2) WiSTEE has established partnership with Minorities and Women in Optical Society of America (MWOSA). WiSTEE Chair Dr. Jie Qiao envisions this partnership will provide complementing global and local aspects, bringing WiSTEE’s local voice to global stage and providing global vision and opportunities to back to WiSTEE members. The two organizations plan to cross broadcasting educational and event contents. MWOSA potentially will provide sponsorship for building WiSTEE infrastructure and organizing local events.

(3) WiSTEE Chairperson Dr. Jie Qiao attended the 2013 Annual Diversity Conference at University of Rochester and presented WiSTEE Connect at the poster session. A number of enthusiastic visitors with backgrounds spanning from IT, Education, Physics, Communication, Chemistry, etc., visited the WiSTEE poster. They were all quite excited about WiSTEE vision and wanted to be part of it. Notably, UR Board of Trustees members Mr. Launcelot F. Drummond and Mr. Francis L. Price have shown a sincere interest in WISTEE vision and activities. Dr. Qiao provided them a full presentation on the vision, development, and future plans for WiSTEE Connect. Wistee @ Annual Diversity Conference Poster Session


We gratefully thank the sponsorship from Eugene Kowaluk Photography for capturing the moments of touching lives and the glowing flow of positive energy. We thank the sponsorship from Stanley Byrd, Human Resources-Organizational Development and Staff Diversity, the support from the Susan B. Anthony Center for Women Leadership, and Mr. Robert Boni and Mrs. Diane Boni for their generosity to establish the international travel grant for WiSTEE members.

March 2013

The WiSTEE opening event successfully took place on March 1st, 2013. Thirty six women at all career stages from 20 academic units across campus came together and discussed their expectations for the group. WiSTEE Founder, Chair Dr. Jie Qiao, scientist at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, University of Rochester, called for a stronger women leadership and role-model building in STEE for the next generation. She shared the vision of establishing WiSTEE to provide a comforting socializing environment to increase cross-disciplinary connectivity, forge informal mentorship and collective advancement, and intersect science and entrepreneurship. During the view-point sharing session, the participants shared their experiences, resonated with the concern for women leadership, and expressed across-the-board desires to connect with others. The experience sharing from the participants was enjoyed by everyone, especially the junior faculties and students. Please click here for the presentation, and here for the launch event newsletter.

We are grateful for the sponsorship from Stanley Byrd, Human Resources-Organizational Development and Staff Diversity, the support from Catherine Cerulli, Susan B Anthony Women Leadership Center, and Mr. Eugene Kowaluk for photographing the wonderful moments shared by WiSTEE members at the opening event.

WiSTEE Launch Event
A group of women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Entrepreneurship came together at the
WiSTEE opening event @ the Faculty Club of U of R, everybody was smiling!