Choquette elected president of IEEE Photonics Society


Daniel Dexter, ECE ILLINOIS

Kent D Choquette
Kent D Choquette
Following in the footsteps of ECE ILLINOIS faculty members who came before him, Professor Kent D Choquette will soon take on the position of president of the IEEE Photonics Society.

Choquette will be the president-elect in 2015 and will begin his two-year term in 2016. Choquette has volunteered for the Photonics Society for over 20 years, and being president was the next logical step for him. 

In his current position in Photonics Society as vice president of technical affairs, Choquette is responsible for looking at the science and technology developments in research and industry, so that Photonics Society members can be provided with the appropriate outlets to distribute their research. His secondary function is to help educate the general public about photonics – something he will focus on as president-elect.

The United Nations has designated 2015 as the International Year of Light, and the Photonics Society will take part in several initiatives to spread awareness of the importance of photonics. Choquette anticipates having a large role in organizing the global scale projects that range from giving LED lighting to homes in underdeveloped African nations to educating people about emerging technologies at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.

“The Photonics Society is mainly organized to assist our members with research and education and to promote our profession from within,” Choquette said. “The International Year of Light is meant to be the promotion of photonics to all of society.”

Choquette believes that photonics is an important topic for everyone to have a general understanding of because of its prevalence in society. As a result of photonics, the Internet and cellular devices have become almost universal, yet many people don’t understand the important function photonics has in the communication of information.

Another goal Choquette has for his presidency is to improve the way research is released to the public. In its present state, the process scientists have to go through to publish or report their research lags behind the instant information age that society is currently living in. Choquette intends to start the IEEE down a path of helping research be released in a less expensive and faster way.

“If I submit a paper, I actually have to send money to get that paper published,” Choquette said. “That’s okay, but that would mean that someone not at the University of Illinois, somewhere a little less affluent, might not have the same access to publishing that I do. And yet their ideas might be just as important as mine. … These are details that might cause your eyes to glaze over, but these are things that limit the progress as a society in terms of getting information out and improving our world.”

Choquette is excited about the responsibility of being president of such a prestigious organization, and he credits the values of the department for preparing him and his ECE ILLINOIS colleagues for the position. Choquette will be the third Illinois professor to serve as IEEE Photonics Society president, following Professor profile James Gary Eden and Professor Emeritus James J Coleman.

“To have three presidents from the same university is unprecedented,” Choquette said. “It’s a testament to the importance of photonics in our department as well as the visibility that we have. In some sense, I feel like I’m not just representing the Photonics Society, I am also representing the University of Illinois.”