25/07/2016 - Trieste
The United Nations' International Year of Light (IYL) may be officially over, but related scientific outreach activities continue. Recently, ICTP scientist Joe Niemela, who oversaw coordination of IYL activities as head of the IYL Secretariat, shared the magic of optics and photonics at a workshop in Pakistan co-sponsored by ICTP and Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) in Islamabad.
The goal of the workshop was to inspire women to consider a career in science. This is the third workshop in a series that involved ICTP assistance (the first ones were with female students from Islamabad Model Colleges) and in this case the participants were QAU undergraduates. All workshops featured lessons on lasers, color mixing, light polarization and light wave diffraction.
"The participants were extremely curious and attentive and thoroughly engaged--many of them even came back early from lunch to have a chance to play more with the equipment while the instructors were still taking a break," says Niemela, adding, "The University was on vacation time, so these 20 participants came on their own, which speaks volumes about their desire to learn, in spite of the often difficult circumstances there." Niemela donated to the workshop Photonics Explorer kits developed by the EU that include experimental materials, worksheets and teacher guides.
Niemela was joined at the workshop by ICTP Associate Imrana Ashraf, a QAU physics professor who is the first woman in Pakistan to earn a PhD in quantum optics, and Jehan Akbar, winner of the 2016 International Commission for Optics (ICO)/ICTP Gallieno Denardo Award.