The University of Southampton

Students attend global launch of the International Year of Light

Published: 22 January 2015

A student-led delegation from the University of Southampton and Thomas Hardye School in Dorchester has received a special invitation to attend the opening ceremony of the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL 2015) in Paris.

This highly prestigious event is being held at the UNESCO HQ on Monday 19 and Tuesday 20 January. The IYL is a United Nations initiative, which will highlight the importance of light and optical technologies in our lives, for our future and for the development of society.

Light plays a vital role in our daily lives - it has revolutionised medicine, opened up international communication via the Internet, and continues to be central to linking cultural, economic and political aspects of the global society.

The delegation will be formed of three PhD students from the University of Southampton; Vinita Mittal, Nicholas Wong and Matt Posner, plus staff from the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) and Physics and Astronomy, plus two 6th form students and accompanying teacher, Geoffrey Reader, from Thomas Hardye School. They will attend keynote speeches, give demonstrations of their work and promote the University’s excellence in research and education in the field of photonics (the science of light).

Matt Posner, who recently won the ORC’s Director’s Award for outstanding contribution in recognition of his outreach work and his ambassador role, says: “There is a huge sense of excitement for all of us. It will be amazing to hear addresses from Nobel laureates and leaders in the field of photonics. It will be quite an experience to see how our work fits into the big humanitarian picture that the UN represents, extending from the lab into many aspects of society such as health, education and politics.”

Judith Wardlaw, Industry Partnership Manager from Thomas Hardye School, a UNESCO Associated School, says: “Our students, Katharine Bennett and Raphael Treccani-Chinelli, are both passionate about physics and competed for the honour to act as ambassadors for the School. They are very excited at the prospect of meeting so many interesting people and developing their understanding of what makes up the world. We are very grateful to the University of Southampton for inviting our representatives to attend and for facilitating this ‘trip of a lifetime’.”

The University and Thomas Hardye School will plan follow-up projects involving the distribution of photonics and optical communications science kits to schools across the South.

Find out more about UNESCO's International Year of Light.

See what outreach events we have coming up in this exciting celebratory year.

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