Skip to Content

Affiliated Commission of

Affiliated Member of

ICO Awards

Ari T. Friberg (2005-2008)

ICO President (term 2005-2008), Ari T. Friberg, professor at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, Sweden

ICO, the Place where the World of Optics meets

It is with humility, but determination, that I take over the presidency of the International Commission for Optics (ICO) from René Dändliker. During his three-year tenure of leadership, and that of Art Guenther before him, the ICO has revised its structure and operations, putting the ICO in a truly unique position to address global challenges. With the remarkable progress and growth, optics and photonics are now more exciting and promising than ever, and it is important that not just the technologically advanced but also the developing regions of the world will be able to share in the profits. The ICO will live up to its motto: the Place where the World of Optics meets.

The introduction of International Society Members has put the ICO in direct contact with optical sciences and engineering organizations worldwide. Currently the ICO has six IS Members (OSA, SPIE, IEEE/LEOS, EOS, OWLS, and LAM Network), but others could be envisioned, for example, geographically covering Latin America. Optics has its roots deeply in physics, and in this United Nations World Year of Physics 2005 we all can be proud of the great contributions of optics in the development of physics. The ICO is an Affiliated Commission of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP). However, optics is progressing as an own branch of science. Indeed, as I write this, we are anxiously awaiting the decision of the International Council for Science (ICSU) on the application of the ICO as a Scientific Associate Member in ICSU. If approved (*), this will greatly enhance the impact and recognition of optics as a discipline and, consequently, it will have a positive impact on optics education and industries.

These are all tremendous developments. However, the uniquely distinguishing strength of the ICO is its Territorial Members, which give the ICO a highly valued communication channel with the optical communities and policy makers throughout the globe. At the ICO-20 Congress in Changchun, China in August 2005, Greece and Moldova were admitted as new Members to the ICO, while Ecuador became an Associate Member. Hence, in total, the ICO presently has 47 Territorial Members and 3 Associate Members. The Territorial Committees are such a precious asset to the ICO that their working relations with the ICO Bureau must be kept fluent and efficient. With these broad territorial connections and the worldwide organizational support, the ICO can assume a leading international role in the progress and promotion of optics on all fronts.

To fulfill its charter the ICO has a number of programs and initiatives. These include a close collaboration with the ICTP in Trieste, e.g., the annual Winter Colleges on Optics, directed towards developing countries. In recent years the ICO has especially focused on Africa and Latin America. Additionally, the ICO has a Proceedings Donation Program and it is actively involved in two conference series: Education and Training in Optics and Photonics (ETOP), which is the only global meeting series dedicated solely to optics education, and Information Photonics (IP). Besides the Triennial Congresses, the ICO organizes annually Regional and Topical Meetings, it maintains a Traveling Lecturer Program, aimed at promoting optics in regions where particular support is needed, and traditionally it publishes every three years the so-called ICO book in the series "Trends in Optics" - I plan to again make an attempt to do that. And, of course, the ICO has several prizes (the ICO Prize, the ICO Galileo Galilei Award, and the ICO/ICTP Award) for recognition of outstanding achievements in optics. A convenient summary of the ICO's programs and activities is in the triennial document ICO Green Book, which is available on the ICO website. Although the ICO statutes call for at least two members of the Bureau to be from industry, what is conspicuously missing from the current ICO activities is a direct involvement of the optics industries in advising the ICO and in funding joint actions. All suggestions for such new initiatives are most welcome.

In Changchun a new ICO Bureau was also elected by the General Assembly and some members, having completed 1 or 2 three-year terms, leave the Bureau. I sincerely thank these members for their dedicated service to the ICO and the global optics community. In particular, I want to acknowledge past-President Art Guenther, who likely will carry on with the ETOP series, and Treasurer Glenn Sincerbox for their work and leadership. Equally, I acknowledge Asher Friesem for his Prize committee work, Giancarlo Righini for chairing the Regional Development committee, Lingli Wang for her industrial efforts, and Néstor Gaggioli for tirelessly working for South America. At the same time, it is my pleasure to welcome those who were elected, or appointed, as new members of the ICO Bureau for period 2005-2008. We have an experienced and productive team to further the general ICO objectives. I'm most pleased to report that Pierre Chavel, the real father of many of the main changes within the ICO, has accepted to continue his involvement in the new Bureau as Senior Adviser "ad personam". At this time I would like to recognize as well the efforts and support of all those who in recent years have contributed to the strengthening of the ICO and to the enhancement of its worldwide visibility.

The success of the ICO ultimately depends on the interest of its Members to get involved in the old and new initiatives. The ICO is an inclusive organization. Active participation of all Territorial and Society Members in the ICO programs is encouraged and solicited, while scientific freedom and respect for cultural differences are emphasized.

For the next three years I look forward to your enthusiastic and unqualified support.

Ari T. Friberg
ICO President, at your service

(*) In October 2005, the ICSU General Assembly elected the ICO an International Scientific Associate Member in ICSU.