Optica Elects 2023 Vice President, Directors-at-large

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The membership of Optica elected James Kafka as the society’s 2023 vice president; Kafka is CTO at Spectra-Physics and an MKS fellow. Julie Sheridan Eng, CTO at Coherent Corp., and Ulrike Fuchs, vice president for strategy and innovation at asphericon GmbH, were elected as directors-at-large for a three-year term from 2023-2025. Additionally, the Optica board of directors appointed Aleksandra Boskovic, vice president for optical communications technology development at Corning, as a director-at-large for a three-year term from 2023-2025.

The election results were announced at the Optica annual business meeting, held during the Frontiers in Optics + Laser Science Conference (FiO + LS) in Rochester, N.Y.
Clockwise, from top left: James Kafka, Julie Sheridan Eng, Aleksandra Boskovic, Ulrike Fuchs. Courtesy of Optica.
Clockwise from top left: James Kafka, Julie Sheridan Eng, Aleksandra Boskovic, Ulrike Fuchs. Courtesy of Optica.

Kafka joined Spectra-Physics in 1983 as a senior scientist and held multiple positions at the company before becoming CTO. Kafka designed several of the company’s most significant products, including the Tsunami, the first commercial ultrafast Ti:sapphire laser (1990); the Millennia X, the first commercial 10-W solid-state green laser (1997); and the InSight, the first broadly tunable ultrafast source for microscopy (2011). He was recently named a fellow of MKS, the parent company of Spectra-Physics. Kafka was named an Optica fellow in 2005 and served as a director-at-large on the Optica board of directors from 2012 to 2014. He has been an Optica member since 1976.

Julie Sheridan Eng was previously senior vice president and general manager of Coherent’s Optoelectronic Devices and Modules business unit. Coherent Corp. announced that Eng was appointed to the position of CTO Oct. 18 prior to the public release of the Optica election results. In her previous role, Eng oversaw engineering, product management, and operations for gallium arsenide vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs); indium phosphide (InP) directly modulated lasers and detectors; and CMOS/BiCMOS integrated circuits for datacom, 3D sensing, and high-volume consumer applications. Eng is a past chair of the IEEE Committee on Women in Engineering and currently serves on the SPIE Executive Advisory Group. In 2022, Eng was elected a fellow of Optica.

At asphericon, Ulrike Fuchs oversees all R&D activities as well as strategic product development. In 2018, Fuchs was the inaugural winner of Optica’s Kevin P. Thompson Optical Design Innovator Award. She has authored and co-authored more than 70 publications and has registered six patent families. During the past 15 years, Fuchs has supervised more than 20 B.S. and M.S. theses in the field of optics. She has served as an associate editor for Optics Express since April 2018 and was elected a fellow of Optica in 2020. In 2021, she was appointed to the faculty advisory board of the Physics Department, Friedrich-Schiller-University of Jena, Germany.

In her role at Corning, Aleksandra Boskovic is responsible for ensuring an integrated technology strategy and innovation delivery across fiber, cable, and connectivity. Boskovic joined Corning in 1997 as a scientist at Corning’s main R&D center in N.Y. She is an Optica fellow and member of IEEE Photonics Society.

Optica Foundation awards $1 million for applied research

Prior to the announcement of the election results Oct. 18, Optica announced that 10 award winners each received $100,000 to explore their ideas and take steps toward addressing critical global issues. The Optica Foundation launched its 20th Anniversary Challenge in 2022, which aimed in part to provide the seed money to investigate hypotheses in the areas of environment, health, and information.

The winners follow:


Dismas Choge, University of Eldoret, Kenya
Development of tunable multicolor laser for sensing: case study for hyperspectral detection of water contaminants.

Ashim Dhakal, Phutung Research Institute, Nepal
Piloting an affordable and real-time water assessment system for detection of fecal coliforms in drinking water.

Michela Florinda Picardi, ICFO – The Institute of Photonics Sciences, Spain
THUNDER: Thermal Unpolarized Radiation Design for Energy Recycling.

Wanvisa Talataisong, Suranaree University of Technology, Thailand
An innovative optical fiber device for micropollutant and greenhouse gas monitoring.


Guangwei Hu, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Single-shot, isotropic and miniaturized differential interference contrast microscopy based on computational flat-optics.

Xingchen Ji, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China
Developing low-cost, portable, integrated OCT systems using low-loss silicon nitride platform.

Florian Willomitzer, University of Arizona
Noninvasive high-resolution imaging through living tissue with single-shot synthetic wavelength holography.


Chaoran Huang, Chinese University of Hong Kong
Integrated photonic neuromorphic processor enabled intelligent, energy-efficient signal processing for next-generation communication systems.

Mark Lawrence, Washington University in St. Louis
Fast, low-power, and high-resolution meta-reflect-arrays for massive space-division-multiplexing.

Mengjie Yu, University of Southern California
Integrated high-speed mid-infrared electro-optic modulator for free space optical communication.

Selected from nearly 100 global applications, the recipients will begin their research immediately. Additional details about their award-winning proposals will be released in the coming weeks, and updates on programmatic milestones will be shared by mid-2023.

Published: October 2022
Businesspeopleawardsopticaleadershipvice presidentOptical SocietyOSAOptica Annual Business MeetingFrontiers in Optics + Laser Science ConferenceFiO + LSJames KafkaJulie Sheridan EngUlrike FuchsLasersOpticsImagingMicroscopyAmericasIndustry NewsBioScan

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