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Texas A&M at Qatar hosts first gathering of leading photonics experts in Qatar

Published Dec 27, 2015

More than 80 of the world’s leading experts in the field of photonics gathered in Doha 13-15 Dec. for the Photonics Middle East Conference (PMEC) 2015 hosted by Texas A&M University at Qatar and the Qatar Nonlinear Science Initiative for Qatar’s first-ever conference on the topic.

Photonics is the science of harnessing light and plays a major role in driving economic growth and employment throughout the world. The science is helping to solve important societal challenges in information and consumer technologies, renewable energy, health, manufacturing and security, said Dr. Milivoj R. Belic, PMEC chair and the Al Sraiya Holding Professor at Texas A&M at Qatar.

“Photonics Middle East Conference — PMEC — is the first conference on photonics in Qatar,” Belic said, “and one of the last conferences to celebrate the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies, which was designated by the United Nations General Assembly for the year 2015. We are proud to have hosted this conference to raise Qatar’s visibility and international profile in photonics research, and to produce impact on the status and direction of photonics research in Qatar in general — and at Qatar Foundation research institutes in particular.”

PMEC 2015, which featured invited talks from 30 renowned researchers, was co-organized by the Texas A&M at Qatar Science Program and the Qatar Nonlinear Science Initiative, and sponsored by the Qatar National Research Fund, U.S. Department of the Navy Science & Technology, Coherent, OptoSigma Europe, Quantel Laser and Qatar Airways.

Featured speakers included Prof. J.M. Dudley, past president of the European Physical Society, and Prof. W. Ketterle, the winner of Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001 and the John D. MacArthur Professor of Physics at MIT, who gave the distinguished lecture.

Dr. Mark H. Weichold, dean and CEO of Texas A&M at Qatar, said, “The nature and characteristics of light have revolutionized nearly every field of science, and we are still only at the threshold of new discovery in this discipline. This conference has provided an important forum to challenge conventional thinking and, in so doing, expand our knowledge and application of light in myriad ways.”

The event was held in conjunction with Ibn Al-Haytham Days 15-16 Dec. organized by Qatar University and held at the Hamad bin Khalifa University Student Center. Ibn Al-Haytham was a notable 11th-century scientist and scholar who is known as the father of optics. He made extraordinary inventions in the fields of vision, optics and light.

The two-day event featured a lecture by Ketterle, “The Coolest Use of Light — How to Make the Coldest Matter in the Universe,” as well as student activities and demonstrations and a teacher demonstration lecture. In addition, the U.S. Embassy to Qatar hosted American physicist Thomas Altman during the event. A physics teacher for more than 30 years, Altman is renowned for his knowledge of holograms and lasers.

PMEC 2015 and Ibn Al-Haytham Days represent capstone events in celebrating the International Year of Light 2015 and also an important first event in photonics in Qatar’s scientific history.

Prof. Ilham Y. Al-Qaradawi, professor of physics at Qatar University and chair of Ibn AlHaytham Days event, said, “We have been fortunate to be able to organize around 10 events in Qatar related to the International Year of Light. PMEC and Ibn Al-Haytham Days are the last two crowning events to the year; they address the top researchers in the field and the young students at schools whom we hope will be our future scientists. All our events focused on including the public and schools as well as scientists and engineers. We collaborated with several organizations in Qatar, such as Sidra, QNRF and the British Council.”

A list of Qatar events can be found on the global IYL 2015 website