The Manipal OSA Student Chapter organized the International OSA Net work of Students (IONS) from 11th January to 14th January 2019 at the School of Life Sciences, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal. The conference was held in collaboration with the OSA Student Chapter of National Yang-Ming University, Taiwan. The focus of the conference was based on the areas of Optics and Photonics with many interdisciplinary talks on Biophotonics as well.

IONS is a unique initiative by the Optical Society of America, a scientific society which aims to bring students who are an active part of student chapters, from all over the world, together to connect and network with their counterparts. It provides them with a learning opportunity to be up-to-date with recent events in the field of optical and physical research and allows them to collaborate or present their own work as well. The conference serves as a platform for communication between speakers and the attendees and intends the create a dynamic learning atmosphere.

The inaugural ceremony was graced by the chief guest, Dr. H. Vinod Bhat, Vice Chancellor, MAHE and the guest of honor, Dr. Alex Vitkin (University of Toronto, Canada). The other dignitaries included Dr. Fu-Jen Kao (National Yang-Ming University, Taiwan); Dr. M. S. Valiathan (National Research Professor, MAHE, Manipal); Dr. K Satyamoorthy (Director, School of Life Sciences, MAHE) and Dr. Krishna K Mahato (Head, Department of Biophysics, School of Life Sciences, MAHE). In his inaugural address, Dr. Bhat lauded the efforts of the chapter and outlined the progress of the University in scientific research. Dr. Alex Vitkin also addressed the gathering and welcomed the delegates, advising them to make the best of the four day event.

The conference was a four-day event in which esteemed researchers were invited to speak about recent work in their areas of expertise. Dr. Alex Vitkin (University of Toronto, Canada) spoke about “Photo mayhem: using light for structural and functional assessment of biological tissues”; Dr. Pritam Deb (Tezpur University, India) gave a talk on “Molecular imaging-from the molecular perspective”; Dr. Dan Christensen (TOPTICA Photonics, USA) spoke about his path into industry and his insights into professional development; Dr. Kevin W Elicieri (University of Wisconsin, USA) talked about “Fingerprinting techniques in Cell Biology”; Dr Fu-Jen Kao (National Yang-Ming University, Taiwan) spoke about “Stimulated emission: a novel method for fluorophore detection”; Dr Asima Pradhan (Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur) spoke about “Biomedical applications of spectroscopy in cancer”; and Dr. Shama Prasada K (School of Life Sciences, MAHE) spoke about “Confocal Microscopy: Fundamentals and Applications in Life Sciences”. The conference also included a talk on innovation and entrepreneurship in the scientific field by Dr. Manesh Thomas, CEO, Bioincubator MAHE, Manipal.

A total of 120 delegates attended the event including 17 OSA student chapters from all over the country. The conference also hosted 20 scientific oral and 8 poster presentations and various chapter activity presentations as well. The best poster presentation was awarded to Rabishankar Samantha (TIFR, Mumbai), Himadri Sahoo (TIFR, Mumbai), Gokul G Nair (Indian Institue of Space Science and Technology, Bangalore), Merriam Merin Anthony (CUSAT, Cochin) and Sparsha P, Niranjana Roy and Yuthika Shetty (SLS, MAHE, Manipal). The conference also included networking activities such as an ice breaking session, activity hour, an innovation exhibit, a trek to Kudluthirtha falls and a visit to Kaup beach. All in all, the conference was a huge success

The Manipal OSA Student Chapter was established in August 2016 under the guidance of Dr. K. K. Mahato, Head of the Department of Biophysics; Dr. Nirmal Mazumder, Associate Professor, Department of Biophysics and Dr. K Satyamoorthy, Director, School of Life Sciences, MAHE. It is an independent student body with around sixty members at present. The chapter has been actively involved in successfully organizing numerous student run projects, conferences, exhibits, membership drives and outreach programs within the local student community.