Mission Statement

SPIE and Photonics student club is funded by two agencies; The Graduate School (TGS) at Northwestern University under a community building grant, and The Society of Photo-optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Our mission is to is to increase the awareness and knowledge of the Northwestern and Evanston community about photonics by engaging them in educational events, social activities and volunteering. Inline with our mission we utilize on and off-campus events, and we follow a four-pronged approach to fulfill our goals:

1. The student speaker series: PhD and postdoctoral students get the opportunity to present their work on photonics-optics and/or cutting edge research to their peers. Speakers benefit from these talks by getting feedback from their peers, whereas the audience get the chance to gain insight about the most recent research being done in their field of interest.

2. The professional development speaker series: are utilized to enhance the "soft-skills" which are needed as a preparation to professional life in this very tight job market.

3. Elementary school outreach program at Evanston district: Our club established a long-term relationship with Evanston's school district by teaching fifth-graders the properties of light. A team of 3 to 5 NU graduate volunteers will visit a different school on a monthly basis and our mission is to expose the students to science at a young age. New volunteers are trained in a briefing for an hour before each outing. The 2.5-hour session consists of a show-and-tell on interesting light-related demonstrations followed by a group activity. The activity divides the class into groups of 3 whereby the students are given the objective to 'hit-the-target'; a laser beam will reflect off of two sets of mirrors before hitting the 'bulls-eye'. The students receive a taste of what engineering is: science and mathematics intertwined with team-work.

4. Social events: merely serves as an engagement of social relation between our members. We organize a night-out event quarterly and meet at local venues to have a bite of food and joy.

About the Graduate School (TGS) at Northwestern University

The mission of The Graduate School of Northwestern University is: to be a trusted, responsive, and visionary leader and partner in order to maintain and promote the highest quality master's and doctoral education. The Graduate School collaborates with the Schools of Arts and Sciences, Communication, Continuing Studies, Education and Social Policy, Engineering, Law, Management, Medicine, and Music to guide and sustain an institutional culture that facilitates excellence in teaching, innovation and rigor in research, and the personal and intellectual growth of its diverse student population.

We invite you to read The Graduate School's 2008 - 2011 Three Year Strategic Plan, our program for advancement and innovation in Academics, Student Affairs and Administration.

About the Society of Photo-optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE)

SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. Serving approximately 180,000 constituents from more than 170 countries, the Society advances emerging technologies through interdisciplinary information exchange, continuing education, publications, patent precedent, and career and professional growth.

SPIE annually organizes and sponsors approximately 25 major technical forums, exhibitions, and education programs in North America, Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific.

In 2010, the Society provided more than $2.3 million in support of scholarships, grants, and other education programs around the world.

SPIE publishes the SPIE Digital Library, containing more than 313,000 research papers from the Proceedings of SPIE and the Society's 9 scholarly journals with around 18,000 new papers added each year, and more than 120 eBooks from the SPIE Press catalog. The SPIE Press publishes print monographs, tutorial texts, Field Guides, and reference books. SPIE also publishes a wide variety of open access content.

Membership includes Fellows and Senior Member programs. The Society has named more than 900 SPIE members as Fellows since 1955, and implemented its Senior Member program in 2008.

SPIE's awards program serves to recognize outstanding contributions from individuals throughout the scientific community regardless of membership status.

Membership in Our Group

To join us, start attending our events and speak to our officers. If you are interested in becoming a student member of SPIE, you can learn more here.


Co-President: Guanxi (Andy) Chen

Andy is from Guangzhou, China. He received his BS degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences and minor in physics from University of California Berkeley. He is currently a PhD student in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Northwestern University. His research interest is in Type-II InAs/GaSb superlattice material characterization, surface leakage suppression, passivation and optimization of photodetector fabraication. He also likes swimming, drawing, watching movies and reading science fiction.

Co-President: Monica So

Originally from Corona, CA, Monica attended UCLA, where she received her B.Sc. in materials chemistry. She is currently pursuing her PhD with Prof. Joseph Hupp in the chemistry department at Northwestern University, focusing on the synthesis and characterization of conjugated metalloporphyrins as light-harvesting materials for organic photovoltaic applications and as ligands for metal organic frameworks. When not exploring the interface of materials science and chemistry, she enjoys science outreach, food science, blogging, bargain hunting, and running.

Technical Chair: Vala Fathipour

Vala Fathipour received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering from University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran in 2009 and 2011 respectively. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering, Solid-state and Photonics at Northwestern University. She has been awarded the Walter P. Murphy Fellowship and the Ryan Fellowship by Northwestern University in Fall 2011 and June 2013 respectively. In 2014, she was awarded URA Visiting Scholars fellowship to work at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory on Large area ASICs for readout of pixellated sensors. She has also received Best Student Paper Award at SPIE Optics + Photonics 2014. She has been a research assistant with Bio-inspired Sensors and Optoelectronics Lab (BISOL), at Northwestern University since 2011. Her research interest includes short-wave infrared single photon detectors and imagers, infrared detection and semiconductor detectors. She is also interested in solar cells, quantum cascade lasers and plasmonic nanoantennas

Treasurer: Neelanjan Bandyopadhyay

Public Relations Chair: Yi Hua

Yi is from Wuxi, Jiangsu, China. She started college at the age of 16 in the Special Class for the Gifted Young at University of Science and Technology of China. She received her B.Sc. in Applied Physics. Currently, she is pursuing her Ph. D degree in Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University. Her research focuses on the linear and nonlinear interaction of light with periodic plasmonic nanostructures. She enjoys reading, gardening, violin, traveling, and trying out new things.

Social Chair: Alireza Bonakdar

He studied Electrical Engineering at the Tehran University and got his M.Sc in 2009. He is interested in plasmonics, biosensing and energy flow in nanostructures. He likes volleyball and painting.

Advisor: Bruce Lindvall

Bruce Lindvall is responsible for the management and growth of existing and future graduate degree programs at McCormick. He works closely with others to coordinate strategic planning, integrated brand marketing, and the student learning environment.

Before joining Northwestern, he worked at the College Board, the University of Kansas, and Purdue University. He has a BS in Mathematics, an MS in Guidance and Counseling, and a PhD in Educational Administration, all from Purdue University.