From November 26 to 30, 2023, the fourth edition of the international career workshop “Women in Photonics” took place at Leibniz IPHT in Jena and was a complete success. With a variety of interactive formats, from career reports by leading female scientists and company representatives to intensive coaching and a lively poster session, the event offered 73 young female scientists from different countries a stimulating platform for professional networking.

The workshop focused on research topics from the fields of optical health technologies, biomedical microscopy and biophotonics. The participants were particularly enthusiastic about the exchange with experienced female scientists and company representatives about career opportunities. The conference chair, SPIE President-Elect and biomedical engineering professor Jennifer Barton from the University of Arizona, provided valuable insights into her own career. High-ranking company representatives such as Ulrike Fuchs, Vice President Strategy & Innovation at asphericon GmbH, and Maria Koller, Head of Global HR at Jenoptik, also added their experiences from the corporate world to the discussion. The workshop by renowned science coaches Schiller & Mertens provided the participants with specific tips for their personal career planning, supported them in raising their profile as independent researchers and in acquiring intercultural skills and academic writing strategies.

In an exchange on current topics and trends in photonics, the participants presented their research work and made contacts in the Jena research landscape and the regional photonics industry, which attended the workshop at Leibniz IPHT in large numbers. 

Leibniz IPHT plans to continue the “Women in Photonics” workshop series, which was launched in 2018, in order to specifically promote young women in their scientific careers and build sustainable networks among female scientists. “We want to encourage young women to develop scientifically, to take their next career step in research or industry and to help shape the research field of optical technologies with their ideas,” says Prof. Dr. Jürgen Popp, Scientific Director at Leibniz IPHT and initiator of the event series.

As an international society for optics and photonics, SPIE has supported the event from the very beginning. “Connecting people and improving their lives through light-based technologies is central to SPIE’s mission, which is only possible in a diverse and equitable society,” says Prof. Jennifer Barton from the University of Arizona, USA, who co-chaired the workshop as SPIE President-Elect 2023. “This workshop provides an excellent opportunity for postdocs and PhD students to present their research and interact with experienced female scientists – a space to ask questions, learn presentation skills, discover career paths in optics and have fun.”

More than 70 young female scientists from numerous countries took part in the fourth edition of the “Women in Photonics” career workshop at Leibniz IPHT.

In well-attended poster sessions, the participants exchanged views on research topics from the fields of optical health technologies, biomedical microscopy and biophotonics.



Tours of the laser laboratories and the fiber drawing tower at Leibniz IPHT were also on the agenda.