Dream, Be Patient, Use the Fear, Advise Women Photonics Professionals in New Planner

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Inspiring stories of women in working in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) appear in a new planner for 2016-2017 published by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics.

The SPIE 2016-2017 Women in Optics planner features insights and inspiration from women across the profession.

The SPIE 2016-2017 Women in Optics planner features insights and inspiration from women across the profession.

Stay strong and believe in yourself. Use fear as fuel for action.

"Dream first, try next, and do your best," Juanita Saroj James Asirvatham, research associate at Lancaster University, advises young women who wish to pursue a career in optics and photonics, in the newly released SPIE Women in Optics 18-month planner for 2016-2017.

In the planner, women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) occupations ranging from university professor and laboratory researcher to entrepreneur and CEO share stories of inspiration and discuss the challenges and rewards of careers in fields where females are often a small minority. The planner is available at no charge from publisher SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics.

Asirvatham describes her work at Lancaster University as exploring novel photonic nanostructures to improve the efficiency and economy of solar energy production. "STEM is for creative thinkers," she said. "From my experience, I would say choosing a career in STEM will provide lifelong professional development."

SPIE 2016-2017 Women in Optics planner The SPIE 2016-2017 Women in Optics planner features insights and inspiration from women across the profession.

Also featured in the planner is the director of clinical services at Desert Medical Imaging, Bernadette Greenwood. She advises young women in STEM fields to overcome barriers to success by applying logic, sensibility, and patience to any situation.

"My advice to young women is to be patient," she said. "Sometimes it's impossible not to feel discouraged, but stay strong and believe in yourself. Use fear as fuel for action."

At Desert Medical Imaging, Greenwood oversees an MRI-based prostate cancer clinical trial, where the company's unique capabilities and team skills have enabled them to deliver laser interstitial thermal therapy to prostate cancer using thermal mapping with MRI.

The planner features some women who work in the optics community but did not receive a STEM education.

Hui (Catherine) Wang, who is the deputy director of the Department of International Cooperation at the Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics, and Physics, received her MA in English Literature. Wang said the biggest challenge in her career is not having a scientific background, making her work to increase her knowledge and understanding of optics by reading books and journals, having discussions with colleagues and attending academic conferences.

"I also advise [young girls and women] not to be afraid of difficulties and mistakes," Wang said. "Facing these can make you stronger."

SPIE Women in Optics promotes personal and professional growth for women through community building, networking opportunities and encouraging young women to choose optics and photonics careers. Career advice from all of the women profiled in the planner is on the SPIE website at http://www.spie.org/x116241.xml. To receive a copy of the planner, email pascale(at)spie(dot)org.

The 2016-2017 planner is supported by Edmund Optics, TRUMPF, Inrad Optics, and illumia.

SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, an educational not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based science and technology. The Society serves nearly 264,000 constituents from approximately 166 countries, offering conferences and their published proceedings, continuing education, books, journals, and the SPIE Digital Library in support of interdisciplinary information exchange, professional networking, and patent precedent. In 2015, SPIE provided more than $5.2 million in support of education and outreach programs. SPIE is a Founding Partner of the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies and a Founding Sponsor of the U.S. National Photonics Initiative.

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