Opinion, Feb. 1998

SPIE vs OSA: a false choice. Let's keep both biennial meetings.

Oregon Medical Laser Center Newsletter. Feb 1, 1998. Steven Jacques.

We the "photon migration community" currently alternate our annual meeting between the SPIE and the Optical Society of America (OSA). Let's not degenerate into two annual meetings each with half the attendance.

The "photon migration community" really came into being when the first of the Chance/Alfano conferences was held at the SPIE meeting in Los Angeles, 1991. Since that time, the conference has settled into a biennial pattern where the conference is hosted by the SPIE in San Jose one year and the OSA in Orlando, Florida the next year. The schedule has been:

The two meetings are different in character and involve a different mix of organizers. The variety of this pattern of alternating meeting sites has been very good for our community.

However, the situation is not stable. The OSA has enlarged its meeting each year adding new topics to the schedule. This year "THERAPY" is added. This is fine if the OSA meeting continues to alternate with the SPIE. But if OSA decides to hold a conference each year, then OSA and SPIE will be is direct competition. And we in the photon migration community will be asked to attend at least one of these meetings. WHICH ONE? ...it doesn't matter because we will all lose if our community splits into two groups attending two different annual conferences. I don't believe our community can support two independent conferences each year. Certainly, I can't afford to attend two such annual biomedical optics conferences.

I appreciate what both the SPIE and the OSA have done for us. They have organized wonderful conferences and provided journals for our publications. I don't want to have to choose between the two meetings.

What can we do? I believe we in the photon migration community must take the initiative to discuss amongst ourselves the merits of our current biennial meetings. We must discuss whether momentum is building for two annual meetings that compete. We must decide what we as a group want, and tell the SPIE and OSA our intentions.

Personally, I believe we should tell the OSA and SPIE that we as a group will continue to alternate biennially between the two sites. We should say that we decided this as a group. We shall have this opportunity at the OSA Topical meeting in Orlando this March.

If we take the lead, then the OSA and SPIE will be encouraged to reach an understanding that will stabilize the current biennial schedule of our meeting. If we don't take the lead, I suspect the OSA and SPIE will become two annual meetings which each gather only half of us each year. I fear that we shall lose bigtime if we don't control our destiny.

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