Photonics Online Meetup

Photonics Online Meetup, or POM, is a biannual all-online conference. The third edition takes place on Jan 11-14th, 2021. It will focus on three main topics: frequency combs, biosensors and metasurfaces with invited talks by Maria Soler, Miriam Vitiello, and Jason Valentine.

The conference will also feature:

  • A tutorial on Brain-Inspired Computing by Abu Sebastian from IBM Research Zürich, Switzerland;
  • A tutorial on Scalable Photonics: An Optimized Approach by Jelena Vuckovic from Stanford, USA;
  • A virtual poster session;
  • A job fair with a discussion panel about jobs outside of Academia where Anya Grushina, our Technical Communication Expert, will also take part.

Registration is free and open until Jan 12.

POM: It started on Twitter

Many users of Heidelberg Instruments tools are working in Optics and Photonics. We thought they might be curious to learn more about POM, so we asked Orad Reshef, one of the POM founders and organizers, to tell us more about this initiative.

Dr Orad Reshef is a Banting postdoctoral fellow at the University of Ottawa in the group of Prof. Robert W. Boyd. His work is focused on studying and engineering light-matter interactions with nanostructured materials. He is also one of the founders of Photonics Online Meetup, the first all-online conference for photonics researchers.

Orad, thank you for finding time to talk to us. Can you tell more about the Photonics Online Meetup? How did you come up with this idea?

I have carved my Twitter account to be a place where I get my daily portion of Photonics news. A year and a half ago, I saw a retweet of an article on reducing flying for academics. I tagged a few colleagues and asked: “Shall we do this?” It just snowballed from there.

Orad: It is embarrassing because I have huge typos there, and these are going to be my most famous tweets. But I deserve it, I should have spellchecked

A lot of abstracts were submitted. After selecting the talks, we invited the rest of the authors to publish their work as posters on Twitter. That has turned out to be an excellent idea, which has been mimicked by all sorts of conferences afterwards. The tweets reach people who are interested in this particular research, it is a self-propagating way of disseminating information.

POM has grown a lot. Where do you envision it going?

We started POM in January 2020, before the pandemic, which was visionary in a weird and lucky way. After COVID-19 has hit, we first thought there was no point in doing it anymore, because all of the conferences went online. But then we considered: What are the things we can do that no one else can? We can keep it free and volunteer-based, we can keep the fun vibe. We can be highly experimental.

For the June meeting, we had a virtual reality poster session based on the Mozilla Hub. It was very resource-heavy but interesting. For the POM in January 2021, we are going to have a poster session on Gather Town, with characters moving around and interacting, like in a video game. There will also be a job fair and tutorials. We are very happy to have Jelena Vuckovic and Abu Sebastian give an hour-long tutorial, accessible to everyone, for free!

This conference, especially the talks, is about being together, about the community. There are memes and inside jokes. The first-ever speaker of the first POM had a cat walking across the screen, and now there is a hashtag #POMcat. There is also a POM-bingo.

What are sub-POMs?

This is another way we are growing. We had Belgian “BePOM”, a Canadian “canPOM”, there will be a Machine learning for quantum physics POM. A few more sub_POMs are in the preparation stage. Anyone can organize a sub-POM event, as long as they stick to the rules: these events that have to be free like ours, and they have to have registration and high-quality talks. The organizers must ensure maximum diversity (gender, age, career level, ethnicity, etc). If we approve of a sub_POM, we support it by emailing all people who register for the main POM events. That is a really grassroots way to grow this initiative. We also have published an article on how to organize an online conference, where we share our experience and outline the main steps.

Register for POM21Ja


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