Future Photonics Leaders

The Future Photonics Leaders (FPL) sub-committee of the PLG focused on fostering, supporting and capturing the opinions of those early in their photonics careers that will lead the industry in the future.

The concept of FPL was developed over the summer of 2022 leading up to a remote sandpit meeting on 9 September 2022 to gain community input, define remit and focus and appoint initial committee members. Comments on the draft scope and remit below are welcome either in the commenting on this page (publicly viewable) or by contacting the PLG.

Future Photonics Leaders contact list


  • Create a new early career UK photonics community focused on the future generation of photonics leaders.
  • Capture the input, opinion, energy and drive of the future generation of photonic leaders.
  • Provide opportunities for those at the earlier stages of their photonics careers to interact, exchange ideas and shape the future photonics ecosystem beyond areas of technical focus   

The PLG is as a nudge focused organisation, gently and relentlessly nudging industry, support agencies, policy makers and academia into mutually beneficial directions.  Effective nudge works on multiple levels, directions and timescales and the PLG firmly believes professionals in the early stages of their careers should be fully involved into shaping the photonics ecosystems they will lead in their future.

Remit and Focus (Draft)

The FPL will focus on on fostering an environment that maximises the awareness and expansion of photonics knowledge and application supporting the widest best in-class adoption, just as the PLG does.  It is anticipated FPL will be particularly focused on ensuring the photonics ecosystem of the future is one that FPL participants will be proud of and motivated to lead (whether in industry or academia), would recommend to others and provides rewarding, accessible, welcoming, career opportunities.  It will be self-organised and open to all.

Proposed FPL activities

  • Organise, chair and report on FPL meetings as required
    • Meetings are anticipated to be predominantly virtual to maximise participation
    • Input and feedback on FPL activities and emerging opinions from future leaders to the PLG
    • Feed into FPL activities and discussion from the current PLG
  • Be the representative voice of fellow future photonics leaders.
    • Participate in international panels and interaction with trade press on topical issues e.g. net-zero, people supply, future horizons.
    • Input into government policy consultations (e.g Semicon strategy, Quantum strategy, etc.) either independently or as part of PLG responses.
    • Represent the FPL community at events across the country in government, with at learned societies and public events e.g. Westminster Photonics and Quantum showcase.
    • Nominate a representative to attend quarterly PLG meetings
  • Interface and liaise with parallel early career focused groups nationally in UK and internationally e.g.
  • Communicate and promote photonics
    • Generate blog articles and news for PLG website & ~1/4ly(ish) newsletter
    • Manage the careers section of the PLG website, including career case studies & resources
  • Inputs into PLG projects and reports e.g. ‘Future Horizon scanning’, ‘Photonics Vision for 2035
    • Overall community bandwidth to develop these is limited and therefore they are developed on occasional adhoc basis.

All activities will depend on the the interests, capabilities, bandwidth and willingness of the community of potential future photonics leaders.


The committee for the Future Photonics Leaders group was elected on 19 December 2022.

Whilst lead responsibilities are identified for the various roles, the group will be run collaboratively with flexibility required in all roles to evenly share responsibilities, workload and fit with professional commitments. All roles are voluntary. The PLG will provide support, coaching and guidance. Committee term will be from 1-2 years to be determined by the group to provide continuity

  • Co-chairs. We aspire to have two people act as co-chairs of the committee with one representing the interests of academia, and the other representing industry and RTOs. The responsibilities of the co-chairs include:
    • Interfacing with internal (PLG) and external organisations to promote the interests and views of the Future Photonics Leaders group.
    • Expressing the viewpoints of the Future Photonics Leaders group in policy consultations
    • Delegating and prioritising work to the other committee members
    • Incorporating Equality, Diversity, and Inclusivity (EDI) as a core ethos of the Future Photonics Leaders group
    • Notarise meeting minutes
    • Actively participate in committee meetings to express their personal views and ideas, while ensuring that others’ views are heard
    • Accepting overarching responsibility for any other arising matters from the committee
  • Secretariat (communications). A significant role of the Future Photonics Leaders group will be to facilitate discussions and discourse between a multitude of people and organisations. It will also be essential to communicate the events of those discussions to the wider photonics community to continually promote engagement. The secretariat (comms) will
    • Write, or delegate responsibility to write, blogs for the PhotonicsUK website which is the PLG’s main method of communication
    • Review social media arising matters if and when a platform is in use.
    • Author email communication to Future Leaders contact list
    • Assist the Secretariat (Events and Meetings) in disseminating information about meetings and events
    • Actively participate in committee meetings to express their views and ideas
  • Secretariat (Events and Meetings). A primary functionality of the Future Photonics Leaders group is to widely engage early photonic career professionals and promote photonics across all sectors in the UK. The secretariat (events and meetings) will have the responsibilities of:
    • Generating agendas and invite speakers for the open future leaders meetings
    • Transcribing, or delegating, the taking of meeting minutes
    • Setting timings for meetings to optimise participation and helping to ensure meetings run to time
    • Working in conjunction with the secretariat (communications) to distribute information about upcoming events and meetings
    • Actively participate in committee meetings to express their views and ideas
  • Funding Officer. The PLG already has a treasurer who takes responsibility for financial matters. The future Photonics Leaders funding officer will instead focus upon exploring new avenues of funding to support current and future activities. Their responsibilities will include:
    • Seeking new funding sources in line with the committee’s vision including understanding, and presenting to the the committee and the PLG, the conditions and mechanisms behind funding options
    • Pitching the case for funding to funders in conjunction with the co-chairs
    • Overseeing funding applications and providing progress updates
    • Reporting to the PLG on effectiveness of fund raising and use of any funding won that is specific to future leader activities
    • Actively participate in committee meetings to express their views and ideas

Election process

The process to elect the inaugural committee to the Photonics Future Leaders commitee was:

  • A total of five initial positions are up for election, each with a term of 1-2 years to be decided by the committee.
  • Nominations are welcome from anyone who identifies themselves as being early in their professional photonic career as noted in terms of reference.
  • Nominations can be submitted by filling the online PLG Future Leaders Nomination form
  • Individuals can be nominate for any of the five roles and express preference for an alternative role should there be an excess of nominations for any roles.
  • Self-nominations will be accepted
  • In case of nominating a candidate other than self, permission from the candidate to be nominated will be required and will be subject to confirmation.
  • Nominations closed at 17:00 on 8 December 2022 with voting during an online meeting on 19 December 2022 in which candidates addressed the audience with a 2 min introduction

Terms of reference (draft)

  • Participation,
    • Participation should be based on willingness and interest in advancing the photonics ecosystem for the benefit of all
    • Participation should based on individual not organisational affiliation where possible, understanding early career professionals may change affiliation during their participation.
      • Where required, FPL participants and steering committee members will be responsible for seeking permission of their employers for participation in FPL activities and the differentiation of personal opinion from those of their organisation.
    • The FPL will should seek to maximise diversity in representation in aspects of EDI, industrial-academic balance and technical/market field of interest.
  • Organised by a steering committee, with 50% of members appointed annually by participant vote.
    • Voting rights determined by active participation in FPL meetings and activities in preceding 2 years (following the PLG model).
    • Steering committee members should serve for a term of two years. Renewable once (i.e. max term 4 years.
    • Recommend steering committee be structured with two co-chairs to maximise responsiveness, share the burden and adapt to changing individual commitments.
      • Additional roles to be determined by the group
  • Support
    • The FPL should be fully self-organising, volunteer lead and run
    • Coaching and mentoring in the operation of the FPL will be provided by the PLG
    • Limited supporting infrastructure (website, email, sharepoint will be available).