AC.1. International Commission for Optics - Reports 2002

Report to the IUPAP General Assembly Meeting
Berlin, Germany
October 7-12, 2002

Activities of the International Commission for Optics, 1999-2002

The CIO continues to focus many of its activities on developing nations. Within this triennium it has participated in initiatives in Africa, having a Bureau meeting in Senegal and participating in the establishment of the Laser Center in South Africa, which will be reaching out to many countries on that continent, assisting them to grow and participate in the optics enterprise both from an educational and an economic standpoint. Additionally, the ICO is looking towards Latin America, both Central and South America, as fertile areas for assistance which can take the form of traveling lecturers and Fellowships, to participate, e.g., in the ICTP (The International Center for Theoretical Physics) optics programs in Trieste. The Latin American Initiative is being done in collaboration with the U.S. Advisory Committee to the ICO as an initiative in their role as the US voice for ICO. This is but one of our major initiatives.

To further broaden the participation and communication with the global optics community, the ICO has established a new membership category, to wit, that of International Organization Member. Already ICO Vice Presidents have been selected by the societies which have elected to participate including the Optical Society of America, the IEEE LEOS (Laser and Electro-Optics Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), SPIE (the International Society for Optical Engineering), the European Optical Society. More organizations, such as OWLS, the Society for Optics Within Life Sciences, have applied for membership in that category.

The ICO has also continued its policy of recognizing optics related achievements on an international basis through several awards including:

  • The ICO Prize, awarded to a person who has made a noteworthy contribution to optics, published or submitted before he or she has reached the age of 40. The recipient is selected by the ICO Prize Committee. It consists of a citation, a sum of US$1000, and the Ernst Abbe medal, donated by the Carl Zeiss Foundation.
  • The Galileo Galilei Award awarded to a person who has made outstanding contributions to the field of optics under comparatively unfavorable circumstances. It consists of the Galileo Galilei Medal, donated by the Societa Italiana di Ottivca e Fotonica, financial support for the participation in the next ICO General Meeting, and measures to favor the future activities of the award winner.
  • The ICO/ITCP Award is presented to an outstanding young scientist from a developing country conducting research in a developing country. It consists of an invitation to participate in the next appropriate event at the ICTP and a cash donation by ICO.

ICO has launched a series of books entitled "Trends in Optics," which is planned to grow by one volume every three years. These books provide an authoritative overview of research underway in the field of optics throughout the world. The articles, which are suitable for the specialist and non-specialist alike, consist of general, readable reviews of many different aspects of optical science and engineering. The royalties typically paid to the editor and the authors are instead paid to ICO to provide additional funds to such activities as the Traveling Lecturer programs. The fifth volume will appear this August at the Triennial ICO Congress in Florences, Italy, to highlight the role of optics through its utility. The title of this year's book will be International Trends in Applied Optics.

One of the most significant conferences supported by ICO in collaboration with the SPIE and OSA is the Conference on Education and Training in Optics and Photonics, most recently convened during 2001 in Singapore. This meeting is devoted in large part to sharing information and concepts which are of potential use in growing a credible workforce both at the technician and professional levels, a major area of endeavor by ICO.

The ICO web page at has additional information on its activities, in particular the 23 meetings that ICO has been associated with during this triennium.

Arthur H. Guenther, President, ICO