New SPIE/UWRF fund will support students’ futures in optics

Part of the SPIE Endowment Matching Program, the SPIE/UWRF Optics Summer Research Scholars fund will cover critical engagement with professional research groups
17 August 2020
SPIE Matching Endowment Program

Together with the University of Wisconsin-River Falls (UWRF), SPIE, via its SPIE Endowment Matching Program, has created the SPIE/UWRF Optics Summer Research Scholars fund. The fund will support a UWRF student who wishes to attend a summer research program related to optics and photonics, either at UWRF or at another institution with a substantial optics research program. The student will identify a research group relevant to their interests, joining them for the summer; the scholarship covers their costs so that the research group does not have to do so.

With an original $50,000 in funds from SPIE, UWRF has successfully raised the matching $50,000 and has created an endowment for their students’ use in perpetuity. As the endowment fund is invested and grows beyond the $100,000 minimum, UWRF will make this scholarship available to additional students each summer. Currently UWRF is seeking additional alumni support to fund the summer intern scholarship for the summer of 2021 and 2022. The goal is to raise $10,000 from UWRF alumni to facilitate summer internships for UWRF Physics students as the endowment is growing.

One driving motivation for developing this fund was seeing how exposure to optics and photonics research has had a critical impact on the career choices of UWRF students. Several UWRF students recently attended the University of Arizona’s Wyant College of Optical Sciences’ Optics and Photonics Winter School and Workshop, a week-long intensive program that introduces students to the wide array of research and careers available across optics and photonics.  Of the first five students who participated in that program, three are now participating in optics PhD programs.  “The SPIE/UWRF Summer Optics Research Scholars fund will provide physics students from UWRF top-quality research opportunities in optics and photonics,” noted UWRF Professor of Physics Lowell McCann. “We are extremely grateful to SPIE and our alumni donors who recognize the impact that undergraduate research in optics will have on our students.” 

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