Ph.D. student receives prestigious optics and photonics education scholarship from SPIE

Hemang Jani

Hemang Jani received a 2018 Optics and Photonics Education Scholarship from SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics. The award will help him stay current in his field of research and attend technical conferences as he completes his Ph.D. in optics.

Michael Mercier | UAH

Hemang Jani, a Ph.D. candidate in optical science and engineering at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), was one of only 85 students around the world to receive a 2018 Optics and Photonics Education Scholarship from SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics. The scholarships recognize the Society’s student members for their potential contributions to optics, photonics, or a related field, with the award-winning applicants evaluated, selected, and approved by the SPIE Scholarship Committee.

"Winning the SPIE scholarship is a huge accomplishment for Hemang personally, but it’s also recognition of the good work being done by UAH’s optics program and the department as a whole," says Dr. Lingze Duan, an associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and Jani’s advisor. "UAH has long been recognized as one of the leading universities in the nation specifically offering education and research programs in the field of optics and photonics. We strive to maximize students’ all-around potential and allow them to blossom in taking initiatives and pursuing their own dreams."

Jani, who grew up in India, came to UAH after completing his master’s degree in physics at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda in Vadodara. As a member of Dr. Duan’s Precision Ultrafast Light Sciences group, he uses few-cycle femtosecond pulses to study ultrafast carrier dynamics in gradient-doped negative-electron-affinity photocathodes.

In 2017, Jani was selected to attend the esteemed Siegman International School on Lasers hosted by the Centro de Investigaciones en Optica in Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico. In addition to attending workshops, Jani presented his research on the use of ultra-short optical pulses to probe fast electronic dynamics in tiny semiconductor structures in a poster entitled "Ultrafast Nanophotonics: Quantum Dot Thin-Film Sensor Fabrication and Few-Cycle Pump-Probe Spectroscopy."

More recently, he was awarded a scholarship to attend the summer seminar at Stanford’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, where he was trained on new opportunities in ultrafast science, including X-ray free electron lasers. As a part of this experience, Jani – along with a team of students from both the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Max Planck Society – presented a mock-beam time proposal to study ultrafast effects in novel superconductors.

But it was Jani’s attendance at the National Photonics Initiative’s annual Congressional Visits Day in Washington, D.C., as well as at various other technical conferences, that he says helped him understand how "scientists must play multiple roles of being experts, advisors, and advocates not only to make long-term contributions in the advancement of optics- and photonics-enabling technologies, but also to act as a bridge between the scientific community and society." Working directly with lawmakers, he explains, "is the best way to sustain fundamental research and help shape policies to secure more federal funding for fundamental research, which is vital for future innovations."

Jani says that the SPIE scholarship will be "a huge help" in his continuing efforts to stay current in his field of research and in allowing him to attend future ‘STEM on the Hill’ events. "I would like to thank Dr. Duan and Dr. Gregory for their recommendation letters for my scholarship application," he says, "and the Department of Physics and Astronomy for its unending support throughout my graduate school journey."


Dr. Lingze Duan


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