The University of Manchester

University of Manchester and SPIE unveil £1 million endowment for postgraduate scholarships

The SPIE-Manchester Postgraduate Scholarship in Photonics has been announced by The University of Manchester and SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics. This exciting collaboration has been established with a generous $500k gift from the SPIE Endowment Matching Program, which will be fully matched by the University. The scholarship aims to support early-career and returning researchers from the University’s Photon Science Institute in partnership with the Royce Institute, the UK’s national institute for advanced materials research and innovation.

This partnership was officially announced during the SPIE Photonics West conference in San Francisco. Photonics, the study of light and its interactions, plays a crucial role in developing technologies that impact our daily lives, from fibre optics for communication to microscopy for medical applications and light sources for displays like smartphones. It also holds the key to the future of quantum applications.

In an effort to increase diversity in the field, the SPIE-Manchester Postgraduate Scholarship will prioritize funding for individuals returning to research after career breaks or time in industry, as well as those pursuing unconventional career paths or part-time study due to caring responsibilities, for example. One unique aspect of this scholarship is the option for students to undertake a final-year placement of up to 12 months, during which they can develop industry-relevant skills in collaboration with local optics and photonics companies.

Kent Rochford, CEO of SPIE, expressed his enthusiasm for the scholarship, stating that it aims to remove barriers and provide exciting opportunities for early-career researchers and those pursuing unconventional paths. The collaboration between SPIE and The University of Manchester at the Photon Science Institute, with the option of an industry-focused placement, promises to benefit young researchers and contribute to a diverse future workforce in optics and photonics.

This scholarship marks the 11th major gift from SPIE to universities and institutes as part of their ongoing program to support the expansion of optical engineering teaching and research. The SPIE Endowment Matching Program, established in 2019, aims to increase international capacity in the teaching and research of optics and photonics. With this latest gift, SPIE has provided more than $4 million in matching funds, resulting in over $11 million in dedicated funds. This program supports optics and photonics education and the future of the industry by providing matching awards of up to $500,000 to college, institute, and university programs with optics and photonics degrees, or with other disciplines allied to the SPIE mission.

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