A pioneering center for photonic science and technology marked a big milestone this autumn. The Institute for Ultrafast Spectroscopy and Lasers (IUSL) at the City College of New York (CCNY) held its 30th Anniversary Celebration Conference Oct. 9 on CCNY’s campus with a keynote address by scientist, entrepreneur and citizen space traveler Dr. Gregory H. Olsen. The third private citizen to orbit the Earth, he also co-founded and chaired Sensors Unlimited. Dr. Robert Alfano, founder of and a distinguished professor of physics at the Institute for Ultrafast Spectroscopy and Lasers at the City College of New York, which marked its 30th anniversary this autumn. Courtesy of IUSL/CCNY. Other speakers included journal editors, innovators, CEOs and students discussing the field’s history, theory, medical and communications innovations, and future. Established at CCNY in 1982, the IUSL pioneered an entire field of research. “At that time, there was no such thing as photonics, no field itself,” said Dr. Robert Alfano, the institute’s founder and a distinguished professor of physics. Although other major centers for optics research existed at the time, the IUSL was the first research institute of its kind devoted to the study of applications for ultrafast light. IUSL investigators study biophotonics, mediphotonics (medical applications), optical and laser physics, and solid-state physics. “These are all real-world applications: We detect disease with light, communicate with light, image with light,” Alfano said. The institute’s missions include the identification and development of emerging technologies in laser imaging and medical diagnosis, and the development of commercial photonic technology to foster economic development.