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Horizons of Optical, Photonics and EmergingSciences (HOPES)—A Fresh Look at Webinars!

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In most webinars, speakers share information on their latest research and innovative ideas they are working on. But, how about their views on emerging technologies or future based research roadmaps? The Horizons of Optical, Photonics and Emerging Sciences (HOPES) webinar series set out to do just that! A series piloted in November-December 2020 brought together key researchers who presented their vision of future research and innovation.

Conferences and online talks have taken an interesting turn in Plenary talks from around the world with a similarly wide viewership became feasible. However, the nature of the presentations did not change.

The IEEE UK and Ireland Photonics Chapter set out to reinvent the wheel; thus emerged the Horizons of Optical, Photonics and Emerging Science (HOPES) series. With this series, we took a different approach to seminal webinars. Instead of focussing on a single piece of research and/or innovation, we invited highly impactful researchers of the UK and Ireland region to discuss the future of their research domains. This allowed the speakers to share their informed view of future innovations on a platform that encouraged a true exchange for shaping the evolution of science. The discussions had during the series provided unique solutions to allow interdisciplinary domains to be unravelled.

The questions we asked of our speakers were: How is the domain of science evolving? What are the latest challenges? What are the emerging technologies that could play a key role in the future?

We invited speakers from multiple domains, such as Prof Sarah Bohndiek (University of Cambridge); Prof David Sampson (University of Surrey); Prof Miles Padgett (University of Glasgow); Prof Nick Stone (University of Exeter); Prof Sonja Franke-Arnold (University of Glasgow); Prof Martin Leahy (NUI Galway); Prof Igor Meglinski (Aston University); Prof Andrew Ellis (Aston University); Dr Amanda Foust (Imperial College London); Dr Georgios Zervas (University College London); Dr Liam O’Faolain (Cork Institute
of Technology); Dr Amanda Wright (University of Nottingham); and Prof Giles Hammond (University of Glasgow).

Our audience was composed of a broad spectrum of attendees from students to industry (Figure 1). The event was a success, in terms of both attendance and reach. A subset of the attendees (66 responses) presented us with the feedback on a scale of 0–5 (5 being the highest, relative to the question). The HOPES Series received:

Picture1 1
  • 69.7% of 5 Rating and 27.3% of 4 Rating when inquiring about satisfaction with the event.
  • 57.6% of 5 Rating and 39.4% of 4 Rating when inquiring if the event matched expectations.
  • 87.9% of the feedback reflected a choice of 1–2 events in the future as opposed to 12.1% that requested a frequency of 3–4 events per month.

Specific talks also received topical, positive feedback. For example, the “acknowledgement of the need for similar talks that provide access to information for early career researchers and PhD students”.


Following the success of the event and the willingness of speakers to participate, the Chapter has decided to make this a regular event. In line with the feedback and logistical challenges, we intend to hold 1 event per month throughout 2021.


We invite suggestions from the prospective audience and speakers who would like to be a part of this event; please write to the HOPES Coordinator, Dr. Akhil Kallepalli at akhilkallepalli@ieee.org.


All the information related to the past and future talks can be accessed through the series website (photonics-ukireland.org/hopes), including the links to the Chapter’s YouTube channel to catch up on any events you may have missed!

Supporting Organizations This event was supported by the parent IEEE Photonics Society and our partners, Institute of Physics Optical Group, Scottish Universities Physics Alliance (SUPA) and the Optical
Society (OSA).