All set and ready to go!

Today or shall I say tonight is the big night!

A high profile launch of the Women in Photonics (WiP) initiative of the IEEE Photonics Society at the IEEE Photonics Conference in San Diego. As the AVP of the Women in Photonics, I will be a co-host of the reception, standing next to the society president, Dalma Novak, and giving a small presentation.

This is a big deal for many reasons:
– reception will have 100+ people
– getting people on board for WiP, and that includes men
– creating the strategy for WiP that will really make a difference
– implementing this strategy with the help of the many volunteers we are looking for

This initiative is very close to my heart, because it gives me the platform to do something about improving the lot of women in STEM as opposed to simply thinking and talking about it.

Each one of us man or woman, from a developing or developed country, have been lucky recipients of the work done by our predecessors in the opportunities and freedom we have. In our small way it is important we contribute to a legacy for our successors as well!

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Another POV change!

Some of you may have wondered why I havent posted for a few days now. Well, its been a very busy and exciting few days that have kept me chained to my desk but away from the blog!

There is the usual excitement and busy period that comes with start of term and new students.

The biggest excitment (though it has been in the works for a few months) is OWTNM 2015.

In April I had attended the ECIO-OWTNM 2014 in Nice and while there I offered to host the next OWTNM in London. OWTNM stands for the Optical Wave and Waveguide Theory and Numerical Modelling workshop. The primary focus is on modelling methods for Photonics and results obtained with these. So bang my research area.

I wanted to organise this for a bunch of reasons:

– get the experience of hosting such a big event (though it is not by any means a huge conference)
– career development
– have some say in how sessions would run and which speakers to invite!
– be on the other side of a conference

Being on the editorial team of a couple of journals has changed my perception of academic publishing so much. I wondered how organising a conference would impact my view of conferences.

There is so much to do:
– get a bank account set up
– get a suitable venue
– fix dates that dont clash with other big events
– manage to get invited speaker who people want to hear, provided these elite speakers are free!
– raise funds, one of the hardest parts
– get a website set up
– publicising the conference

These are just the big headline items, and the major ones so far. The details (catering, review of submitted papers, banners, badges, bags, gala dinner, internet at the venue, who will open the conference…) that will need looking after will be a whole new level of effort.

Then there is dealing with the fear. What if we dont break even financially? What if the invited speakers back out? What if enough people dont submit papers? What if people hate it and hate me? Oh God!

Why did I think this was a good idea? If I read the reasons above I can see why. But sometimes it still feels like I am trying to ride a tiger (one that is sleeping for the moment).

The ride is scary and thrilling in equal parts. I will report back at regular intervals about the experience.

Meanwhile, I invite you to attend OWTNM 2015!