The University of Southampton

Future Leaders Awards: The Team '96 Winner for 2023 - Dr Meng Huang

Published: 8 March 2024
Meng Huang receiving his Team '96 award from Prof Graham Reed

Two exceptionally talented PhD photonics students have been recognised for their outstanding achievements in the latest round of the annual Professor Sir David Payne Student Scholar and Team’ 96 prizes.

In total there were 9 students nominated by their supervisors and there was strong competition. There were 4 students shortlisted, and they were asked to present to a panel of judges selected from Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) senior staff to talk about their research, Impact and Outreach activities. Every student gave a strong presentation and answered questions from the panel. Out of the 4 students shortlisted 2 were selected for their outstanding efforts across their studies. The winners were:

Team’96 winner – Dr Meng Huang,

Professor Sir David Payne Scholar Award Winner – Venugopal Raskatla.


Team’96 winner – Dr Meng Huang was nominated by his supervisor Professor Anna Peacock for his work focussing on advancing the nonlinear performance in silicon core optical fibres (SCF’s). He was the first to observe SCF Raman amplification within the telecom band, something that we have been working on for over 12 years. Most recently he has demonstrated the potential for low loss SCF’s for mid-infrared source development via cascaded Raman scattering. This has caught the attention of industry, leading to new collaborations with the Universities of Glasgow, Pavia, and Toronto (for quantum applications) and UCL (for broadband communications).

Professor Anna Peacock said “Meng has made significant breakthroughs in reducing the transmission losses of our novel silicon core fibre platform, and in doing so unlocked several new application areas for this work. Meng is an enthusiastic contributor to the ORC community, and we are delighted that he has chosen to continue his work with us to develop the next generation of broadband nonlinear fibre systems.”

Meng said, “Winning the Team’96 Future Leader Award is a milestone in my academic journey.  I work very hard to polish my academic skills during my PhD and invest most of my time and talent in the research field of photonics. This award let me know everything I have done is meaningful, my ideas, my research works, and so on. They do contribute and impact the photonics community. It also boosts my confidence in doing research and encourages me to target more achievements for my career.  I believe it can light my future and take me to where I could not imagine before.” 

The runners up for these prizes were Tom Kelly and Rosemary Clark, well done to you both.

Professor Graham Reed, ORC Director said, “It’s a great pleasure to see our students doing inspirational work, and really making impact with their research.  It reflects the calibre or the student body, as well as the leadership of the staff, and suggests that the future of the ORC is secure.”

Funded by Southampton ORC alumnus Prof Anatoly Grudinin, the Team’96 prize recognises outstanding achievements by one student in the final year of their PhD. Anatoly was at the ORC for 10 years during which time he pioneered short-pulse fibre lasers, soliton transmission systems, and cladding-pumped fibre lasers as a Research Fellow and Professor. He left the ORC to launch his highly successful fibre laser company, Fianium (now NKT). The Team ’96 Prize is a tribute to a highly prolific research period at the ORC when Anatoly was with us. The winner receives a cash prize of £5,000.

The annual awards encourage PhD supervisors to nominate their best-performing student who has gone that extra mile – this could be recognising a range of attributes, activities and achievements that span academic endeavour, scientific excellence, and outreach and engagement. 

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