Optical Society

Optical Society
Optical Society
Type Professional organization
Founded 1916
Location Washington, DC, United States
Origins Founded by optical scientists in 1916 under the leadership of Perley G. Nutting
Key people Christopher Dainty (President)
Area served Worldwide
Focus Optics and photonics
Method Professional journals and conferences
Members 16000+
Website osa.org

The Optical Society (originally established as the Optical Society of America, OSA) is a scientific society dedicated to advancing the study of lightoptics and photonics—in theory and application, by means of publishing, organizing conferences and exhibitions, partnership with industry, and education. The organization has members in more than 100 countries.[1] As of 2011, OSA had 16,000 individual members and more than 230 corporate member companies.



OSA was founded in 1916, under the leadership of Perley G. Nutting,[2] with 30 optical scientists and instrument makers based in Rochester, New York. OSA soon began publication of its first journal of research results and established an annual meeting.[3]

In 2008, OSA was renamed from the Optical Society of America to the Optical Society to recognize its global reach and focus.[4]


The mission of the Optical Society is to promote the generation, dissemination, application, and archiving of knowledge in optics and photonics. The purposes of the Society are scientific, technical and educational.

Scientific publishing

Scientific publishing is a core activity of the society.

Primary journals

  • 'Advances in Optics and Photonics, 2009-present (ISSN 1943-8206), publishing review articles.
  • Applied Optics, 1962-present, covering research on optical technology.
  • Biomedical Optics Express, 2010-present (ISSN 2156-7085), covering optics, photonics and imaging in the life sciences.
  • Journal of the Optical Society of America, 1917–1983,[5] which was split into two journals in 1984:
  • Optics Express, 1997-present, an open access journal for the rapid publication of short papers in all fields of optical science and technology.
  • Optics Letters, 1977-present, covering all areas of optics.
  • Virtual Journal for Biomedical Optics, 2006-present, a compilation of all biomedical articles published in OSA's peer-reviewed journals.

Partnered journals

  • Applied Spectroscopy, 1951-present. Published by the Society for Applied Spectroscopy.
  • Chinese Optics Letters, 2006-present. Published by Science Press of China.
  • Journal of Optical Communications and Networking, 2009-present (ISSN 1943-0620). Jointly published by OSA and IEEE. Published from 2002-2009 as Journal of Optical Networking.
  • Journal of Display Technology, 2006-present (ISSN 1551-319X). Jointly published by OSA and IEEE.
  • Journal of Lightwave Technology, 1998-present. Jointly published by OSA and IEEE.
  • Journal of Optical Technology, 1999-present (ISSN 1070-9762). English translation of Opticheskii Zhurnal published by the S. I. Vavilov State Optical Institute and D. S. Rozhdestvensky Optical Society.
  • Journal of Optical Society of Korea, 2007-present (ISSN 1226-4776).


Optics and Photonics News, 1989-present. Distributed to all OSA members.


The Optical Society recognizes distinguished achievements in the field of optics through the presentation of awards and honors. OSA’s awards and medals program is endowed through the OSA Foundation (OSAF).

Categories of recognition include: OSA Fellow, OSA Awards, Senior Members, and Honorary Members.


  • Frederic Ives Medal/Jarus W. Quinn Endowment. The highest award of the Society, the Ives Medal recognizes overall distinction in optics.
  • Esther Hoffman Beller Medal, recognizes outstanding contributions to optical science and engineering education.
  • Max Born Award, recognizes contributions to physical optics, named after Max Born
  • Distinguished Service Award, recognizes service to the optical community.
  • Paul F. Forman Engineering Excellence Award, recognizes technical achievements in optical engineering.
  • Joseph Fraunhofer Award/Robert M. Burley Prize, recognizes accomplishments in optical engineering.
  • The Joseph W. Goodman Book Writing Award, recognizes authorship of an outstanding book in the field of optics and photonics, published in the last six years, that has contributed significantly to research, teaching, or the optics and photonics industry (co-sponsored with SPIE).
  • Nick Holonyak Jr. Award, recognizes contributions to optics based on semiconductor-based devices and optical materials, including basic science and technological applications.
  • Edwin H. Land Medal, recognizes pioneering work empowered by scientific research to create inventions, technologies, and products (co-sponsored with the Society for Imaging Science and Technology).
  • OSA Leadership Award-New Focus/Bookham Prize, recognizes an individual or group of optic professionals who has made a significant impact on the field of optics and/or made a significant contribution to society.
  • Emmett N. Leith Medal, recognizes seminal contributions to the field of optical information processing.
  • Ellis R. Lippincott Award, recognizes contributions to vibrational spectroscopy (co-sponsored with the Coblentz Society and the Society for Applied Spectroscopy).
  • Adolph Lomb Medal, recognizes noteworthy contributions made to optics before reaching the age of 35.
  • C.E.K. Mees Medal, recognizes interdisciplinary and international contributions.
  • William F. Meggers Award, recognizes outstanding work in spectroscopy.
  • David Richardson Medal, recognizes contributions to optical engineering.
  • Edgar D. Tillyer Award, recognizes distinguished work in the field of vision.
  • Charles Hard Townes Award, recognizes contributions to quantum electronics.
  • John Tyndall Award, recognizes contributions to fiber optic technology (co-sponsored with the IEEE Photonics Society).
  • Herbert Walther Award, established in 2007 by OSA and Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (DPG), the award recognizes distinguished contributions in quantum optics and atomic physics as well as leadership in the international scientific community.
  • R. W. Wood Prize, recognizes an outstanding discovery, scientific or technological achievement or invention.

Conferences and exhibitions

OSA sponsors small and large meetings consisting of a technical program and an industrial exhibition appropriate to the subject matter and number of attendees. Large conferences often include professional education courses and workshops addressing the state of emerging technology and industry.

Local sections and student chapters

OSA local sections and student chapters are encouraged and supported by the umbrella organization but operate independently. Their activities may include guest speakers, educational outreach, and content from other scientific societies. In 2010, 23 local sections were affiliated with OSA (16 in the U.S. and 7 non-U.S.); over 209 student chapters at the year-end 2010 were affiliated with OSA (154 from non-U.S. universities and 55 within the U.S.).[6]

OSA Foundation

The OSA Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to supporting programs that:

  • Advance youth science education
  • Provide optics education and resources to underserved populations
  • Offer career and professional development resources
  • Award, honor and recognize technical and business excellence

Since its establishment in 2002, the foundation has provided funding for over 310 programs and awarded 775+ grants and prizes in more than 55 countries. Funded activities include: student travel grants, special resources for university students studying optics, scholarships and classroom and extracurricular youth science education programs.[7]

OSA presidents

  • 2011 Christopher Dainty
  • 2010 James C. Wyant
  • 2009 Thomas M. Baer
  • 2008 Rod C. Alferness
  • 2007 Joseph H. Eberly
  • 2006 Eric Van Stryland
  • 2005 Susan Houde-Walter
  • 2004 Peter L. Knight
  • 2003 G. Michael Morris
  • 2002 Anthony M. Johnson
  • 2001 Richard C. Powell
  • 2000 Erich P. Ippen
  • 1999 Anthony E. Siegman
  • 1998 Gary C. Bjorklund
  • 1997 Janet S. Fender
  • 1996 Duncan T. Moore
  • 1995 Tingye Li
  • 1994 Robert L. Byer
  • 1993 Elsa M. Garmire
  • 1992 Joseph W. Goodman
  • 1991 John N. Howard
  • 1990 Richard L. Abrams
  • 1989 Herwig Kogelnik
  • 1988 William B. Bridges
  • 1987 Robert G. Greenler
  • 1986 Jean M. Bennett
  • 1985 Robert R. Shannon
  • 1984 Donald R. Herriott
  • 1983 Kenneth M. Baird
  • 1982 Robert P. Madden
  • 1981 Anthony J. DeMaria
  • 1980 Warren J. Smith
  • 1979 Dudley Williams
  • 1978 Emil Wolf
  • 1977 Peter Franken
  • 1976 Boris P. Stoicheff
  • 1975 Arthur L. Schawlow
  • 1974 F. Dow Smith
  • 1973 Robert E. Hopkins
  • 1972 Aden B. Meinel
  • 1971 Bruce H. Billings
  • 1970 W. Lewis Hyde
  • 1969 Karl G. Kessler
  • 1968 Arthur F. Turner
  • 1967 John A. Sanderson
  • 1966 Van Zandt Williams
  • 1965 Seibert Q. Duntley
  • 1964 Richard C. Lord
  • 1963 Stanley S. Ballard
  • 1962 David MacAdam
  • 1961 Wallace R. Brode
  • 1960 James G. Baker
  • 1959 John D. Strong
  • 1958 Irving C. Gardner
  • 1955-1957 Ralph A. Sawyer
  • 1953-1954 Deane B. Judd
  • 1951-1952 Brian O'Brien
  • 1949-1950 William F. Meggers
  • 1947-1948 Rudolf Kingslake
  • 1945-1946 George R. Harrison
  • 1943-1944 August H. Pfund
  • 1941-1942 Archie G. Worthing
  • 1939-1940 Kasson S. Gibson
  • 1937-1938 Roswell Clifton Gibbs
  • 1935-1936 Arthur C. Hardy
  • 1933-1934 Wilbur B. Rayton
  • 1932 Eugene C. Crittenden
  • 1930-1931 Loyd A. Jones
  • 1928-1929 Irwin G. Priest
  • 1926-1927 William E. Forsythe
  • 1924-1925 Herbert E. Ives
  • 1922-1923 Leonard T. Troland
  • 1921 James P. C. Southall
  • 1920 Floyd K. Richtmyer
  • 1918-1919 Frederick Eugene Wright
  • 1916-1917 Perley G. Nutting

See also


  1. ^ Colleen Morrison, "Societies: the Optical Society of America," The Industrial Physicist, Dec. 2003/Jan. 2004, pp. 29-30.
  2. ^ Observers, Illuminants, Light Sources for Color Difference Calculations, William Reginald Dawes
  3. ^ "Why 1916? A Look Back at OSA's Roots.", files of W. Lewis Hyde, Optics & Photonics News, Vol. 17, No. 1, Jan. 2006, pp. 18-19.
  4. ^ "Mission of OSA". http://www.osa.org/about_osa/mission_of_OSA/. Retrieved 21 June 2011. 
  5. ^ "JOSA". Optics InfoBase. http://www.opticsinfobase.org/journal/josa/about.cfm. Retrieved 2011-06-09. 
  6. ^ Chapter Locations, The Optical Society. Washington, DC, 2010.
  7. ^ The OSA Foundation, OSA Foundation. Washington, DC, 2010.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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