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An Eventful Year

Satoshi Kawata

Leading Optica for a year was great experience.

As I write this—the last of my monthly messages as Optica President—I am in Rochester, NY, USA, where Optica’s annual Frontiers in Optics + Laser Science (FiO+LS) Conference is being held, along with the society’s annual business meeting and Board meeting. Rochester is, of course, a mecca for optics and photonics. This is only the second time I have traveled here from the other side of the globe; the first time, two decades ago, was to attend the International Conference on Near-Field Optics.

Although not many other participants from Asia came to this year’s FiO+LS meeting, I enjoyed the chance to meet many Optica members, including students, volunteers and staff, in person. I was particularly fortunate in the opportunity to talk in person with seven former OSA presidents: Anthony Johnson, Michael Morris, Susan Houde-Walter, Eric Van Stryland, Joseph Eberly, Donna Strickland and Stephen Fantone. Meetings, receptions and banquets afforded other opportunities to reconnect with friends—and to make new ones.

As OPN readers know well, in September 2021, our organization, after 105 years as OSA, changed its name to Optica. Over the past year, I believe that awareness of our society’s new name and new direction has been growing. And as president in the first full year after that momentous change, I have learned a lot about the society’s long history.

Because I grew up, studied and worked outside of North America and Europe, it has perhaps taken me some additional time to understand the system, culture and tradition of managing the society and its meetings. I am very grateful to the Board members and Optica staff for their kind support, patience and friendship. I particularly thank Optica CEO Liz Rogan for always understanding my point of view. (This year marked her 20th anniversary as the society’s chief executive—congratulations, Liz!) Thanks also to Martha Paterson, Optica’s senior director for governance and special programs, for the time she took to prepare and explain things to me, and thanks to the many other staff members and volunteers who have helped me in this role. Leading Optica for a year was great experience and an opportunity open to few people, and I have enjoyed it very much.

Looking back more broadly over 2022, much has happened that was unforeseeable when the year started. It was hard to imagine that one nation would make a large-scale attempt to invade and to wrest, by force, the territory of another—or that the people of the invaded country would put their lives on the line in so spirited a defense. In Japan, where private gun ownership is all but nonexistent, a former prime minister was assassinated in front of his people. The perpetrator apparently learned how to construct a handmade firearm, and obtained materials to do so, on the internet. We did not believe that such a thing was possible.

Of course, no one can say what will happen next year. The future of our nonlinear, complex world is not determined in advance. But I believe that after a hard winter, a warm spring will come. In that spirit, I pass the gavel of leadership of Optica to its 2023 President, my colleague Michal Lipson, and wish her good luck.

Satoshi Kawata,
Optica President

A Japanese translation of this message appears below.


Publish Date: 01 December 2022

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