By Naznin Akter
Chair Professor Optoelectronics Intellisense Lab, Photonics Society Vice President of Conferences
Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech), Shenzhen, China
What is Your Current Profession?
I am currently a Chair Professor of Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) at the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (EEE), Shenzhen, China. My research interests focus on silicon photonics, optical sensing, and laser technologies. I have published more than 900 peer-reviewed papers, and my h-index is 45. I have received aggregated research funding of more than USD 7 million as PI or co-IP.
What Role Does Your BoG Position Play for the IEEE Photonics Society? What Challenges Do You Face in Your Part?
I am currently Vice President of Conferences for the IEEE Photonics Society. One of
my key roles is to chair the Conference Council. My responsibility as a Chair of the Conference Council is to regularly review the society’s meetings portfolio to identify and resolve current issues and challenges and make suggestions for new meetings. The Conference Council is also responsible for reviewing and approving technical co-sponsorship requests, Chairs and Representatives for selected conferences, and location and venue selections for the IEEE Photonics Conference. Due to COVID-19, the challenge I am facing this year is to work with various committee members via teleconference and attend virtual conferences instead of physical onsite meetings.
What are You Currently Working On?
I must host a virtual Conference Council meeting monthly. Due to Conference Council members’ different geographical locations, the primary challenge is to find a standard time suitable for most people to meet online. The IEEE Photonics Conference (IPC) is our major society conference each year. IPC 2021 will be in Canada, and IPC 2022 will be in Singapore. Together with Conference Council members, we are in the process of planning the future of IPC with the consideration of time, venue, and technical areas.
What Do You Want to Accomplish as a Board Member this Year/Next Year?
I wish to help to make IPC the major conference in Photonics.
Why Photonics? What was Your “Photonics Moment?” (More Personal Background Story, etc.)
I began to know about Photonics as early as my undergraduate final year project. That was also the reason I decided to do a Ph.D.. in the field of photonics. My photonics moment probably was the moment I received the IEEE EDS/MTTS India Chapter best paper award in Photonics-98.
What About our Society’s Mission and Work that Motivates You?
I joined the IEEE Photonics Society as a member when I was a student. Before I became the chairman of the Conference Council, I worked quite closely with the membership council.
What Specific Assets Do You Bring to the Table as a Board Member?
I think I can help promote the IEEE Photonics Society in Asia, and I started the Optoelectronics Global Conference (OGC) with the Photonics Society as the main organizer.
Mention One Thing you have Changed and One Thing you Want to Switch to Improve the IEEE Photonic Society?
The IEEE Photonics Society is a very well-established society. I would like to make incremental contributions to the photonics community, its conferences, and future developments.
Can You Name a Person Who has had a Tremendous Impact on You as a Leader? Maybe Someone Who has Been a Mentor to You? Why and How did this Person Impact Your Life?
I want to give my special thanks to Jagadish, a friend and a mentor to me. He is always willing to offer help to me as well.
What are the Most Important Decisions You Make as a Leader of the IEEE Photonic Society?
The most important decision I made was to accept the VP position and serve in the IEEE Photonics Society. No regrets.
How Would You Advise Members Who Want to Become More Involved in Society?
I strongly encourage regional members to consider starting a student chapter branch as well as a regional chapter.
Why Do You Think Members Should be Involved as Society Volunteers? What are the Benefits?
There are many benefits. Financially, members can enjoy a conference discount. Technically, there are so many online resources available to members.
What Advice Would You Give Someone Going into a Leadership Position for the First Time?
Be humble and learn from senior mentors.
How Do You Ensure the IEEE Photonic Society and its Activities are Aligned With Your Core Values?
We have to work closely with volunteers from different sectors and make sure everyone is fully aligned.
When Faced With Two Equally Qualified Candidates, How Do You Determine Whom to Choose?
I will prefer to choose the one who is willing to learn and is responsible for his/her work.
What is One Characteristic that you Believe Every Leader Should Possess?
Willingness to listen and draw a conclusion and make the best decision for the benefit of society.
What is the Biggest Challenge Facing Leaders Today?
Time. We all have 24 hours a day. Capable leaders may reach the limit if overcommitted.
What is One Mistake You Witness Leaders Making More Frequently Than Others?
Not being able to make decisions. Especially tough decisions.
What Kind of Help and Support Do You Need From the IEEE Photonics Society?
The IEEE Photonics Society organizes or sponsors many conferences in the world. I would like to hear from conference organizers or delegates on whether we can enhance Photonics Society conferences’ technical qualities. I want to work with domain experts to explore the development of new technical tracks or special sessions. We can also help promote IEEE Photonics Society membership and facilitate global collaborations under our conference platform.
How Can Members Get Involved and Find More Information About Your Progress/Role?
Members can contact me (email@example.com) or any Conference Council member directly if anyone is interested in helping or providing feedback.
Tell us Something Fun About Yourself!
I spent most of the time on undergraduate student projects rather than graduate projects. I prefer to give senior students more freedom to choose research topics and find their path.