The Optical Society

The Optical Society
Founded 1916
Type Professional association
Focus Optics and photonics
  • Washington, DC, United States
Origins Founded by optical scientists in 1916 under the leadership of Perley G. Nutting
Area served
Method Professional journals and conferences
Key people

Ian Walmsley [1]
Eric Mazur (Past- President) [2]

Elizabeth A. Rogan (CEO)
Endowment $74,991,615

The Optical Society (originally established as The Optical Society of America, OSA) is a scientific society dedicated to advancing the study of lightoptics and photonics—in theory and application, by means of publishing, organizing conferences and exhibitions, partnership with industry, and education. The organization has members in more than 100 countries.[4] As of 2017, OSA had over 20,000 individual members and more than 265 corporate member companies.[5]


OSA was founded in 1916, under the leadership of Perley G. Nutting,[6] with 30 optical scientists and instrument makers based in Rochester, New York. OSA soon began publication of its first journal of research results and established an annual meeting.[7] It was founded as the "Optical Society of America" and has evolved into a global enterprise with a worldwide constituency. In recognition of this, the society was renamed in 2008 as The Optical Society (OSA).[8]


The mission of the Optical Society is to promote the generation, dissemination, application, and archiving of knowledge in optics and photonics. The purposes of the Society are scientific, technical, and educational.

Scientific publishing

Scientific publishing is a core activity of the society, consisting of 17 flagship, partnered and co-published peer-reviewed journals and 1 magazine. With more than 280,000 articles,[9] including papers from over 470 conferences, the OSA Publishing platform is the second largest collection of conference and peer-reviewed optics and photonics content.[10]

Primary journals

Partnered journals

  • Applied Spectroscopy, 1951–present. Published by the Society for Applied Spectroscopy.
  • Chinese Optics Letters, 2003–present. Published by Chinese Laser Press.
  • Journal of Optical Communications and Networking, 2009–present. Jointly published by OSA and IEEE. Published from 2002-2009 as Journal of Optical Networking.
  • Journal of Display Technology, 2005–2016. Jointly published by OSA and IEEE.
  • Journal of Lightwave Technology, 1998–present. Jointly published by OSA and IEEE.
  • Journal of Optical Technology, 1999–present. English translation of Opticheskii Zhurnal published by the S. I. Vavilov State Optical Institute.
  • Journal of Optical Society of Korea, 2007–present. Published by the Optical Society of Korea.
  • Photonics Research, 2013–present. Jointly published by OSA and Chinese Laser Press.


Optics and Photonics News, 1975–present. Distributed to all members.


The Optical Society presents awards and honors, including OSA Fellow, Honorary Membership, and Awards/Medals. OSA’s awards and medals program is endowed through the OSA Foundation (OSAF), and includes more than 20 named awards; among them are the following:

  • Frederic Ives Medal/Jarus W. Quinn Prize
  • Esther Hoffman Beller Medal
  • Max Born Award
  • Stephen D. Fantone Distinguished Service Award
  • Michael Stephen Feld Biophotonics Award
  • Paul F. Forman Team Engineering Excellence Award
  • Joseph Fraunhofer Award/Robert M. Burley Prize
  • The Joseph W. Goodman Book Writing Award
  • Nick Holonyak Jr. Award
  • Robert E. Hopkins Leadership Award
  • Edwin H. Land Medal
  • Sang Soo Lee Award
  • Emmett N. Leith Medal
  • Ellis R. Lippincott Award
  • Adolph Lomb Medal
  • C.E.K. Mees Medal
  • William F. Meggers Award
  • David Richardson Medal
  • Edgar D. Tillyer Award
  • Charles Hard Townes Award
  • John Tyndall Award
  • Herbert Walther Award
  • R. W. Wood Prize[13]

Conferences and exhibitions

OSA sponsors small and large meetings consisting of a technical program and an industrial exhibition appropriate to the subject matter and number of attendees. Large conferences often include professional education courses and workshops addressing the state of emerging technology and industry. The OSA Executive Speaker Series presents luminaries from industry in an informal studio setting to discuss their career paths. Past executives include Coherent CEO John Ambroso and American Elements CEO Michael Silver.[14]

Local sections and student chapters

OSA local sections and student chapters are encouraged and supported by the umbrella organization but operate independently. Their activities may include guest speakers, educational outreach, and content from other scientific societies. In 2015, 22 local sections (13 in the U.S. and 9 non-U.S.[15])and more than 360 student chapters (88 in the U.S. and 272 non-U.S.) that were affiliated with OSA.[16]

OSA Foundation

The OSA Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to supporting programs that:

  • Advance youth science education
  • Provide optics education and resources to underserved populations
  • Offer career and professional development resources
  • Award, honor and recognize technical and business excellence

Since its establishment in 2002, the Foundation has provided funding for over 350 programs and awarded 825+ grants and prizes in more than 55 countries. Funded activities include: student travel grants, special resources for university students studying optics, scholarships and classroom and extracurricular youth science education programs.[17]

OSA presidents

See also


  1. "Professor Ian Walmsley becomes President of the Optical Society". Retrieved 12 Feb 2018.
  2. "Eric Mazur elected to leadership of Optical Society". Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  3. "OPTICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA INC". ProPublica. Retrieved 5 September 2017.
  4. Colleen Morrison, "Societies: the Optical Society of America," The Industrial Physicist, Dec. 2003/Jan. 2004, pp. 29-30.
  5. "OSA Membership". Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  6. Observers, Illuminants, Light Sources for Color Difference Calculations, William Reginald Dawes
  7. "Why 1916? A Look Back at OSA's Roots.", files of W. Lewis Hyde, Optics & Photonics News, Vol. 17, No. 1, Jan. 2006, pp. 18-19.
  8. "A Century of Light". Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  9. "The Optical Society Launches New Publishing Platform to Enhance Ease of Use, Search and Discoverability of Content". Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  10. "About OSA Publishing".
  11. "JOSA". Optics InfoBase. Retrieved 2011-06-09.
  12. "The Optical Society Launches Optica, New Open-Access Journal for Highest-Impact Research in the Science of Light". The Optical Society. 2014-07-22.
  13. "Awards & Grants". The Optical Society. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  14. OSA Executive Speaker Series, The Optical Society
  15. "OSA Local Sections". Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  16. "OSA Student Services". Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  17. The OSA Foundation, OSA Foundation. Washington, DC, 2010.
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