University of Manchester and SPIE announce $1million endowment for postgraduate scholarships

The University of Manchester and SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics have announced the establishment of the SPIE-Manchester Postgraduate Scholarship in Photonics.

The $500k gift from the SPIE Endowment Matching Program will be matched 100% by the University and will be used to support both early-career and returning researchers from the University’s Photon Science Institute in partnership with the Royce Institute, the UK’s national institute for advanced materials research and innovation.

The partnership was announced today (29 January) during the SPIE Photonics West conference in San Francisco.

Photonics is the study of light and its interactions to develop technologies that impact our daily lives, from as fibre optics for communications, microscopy for medical applications, light sources for displays such as smartphones to next generation quantum applications.

With a goal of increasing diversity in the subject, the SPIE-Manchester Postgraduate Scholarship will have a particular focus on funding individuals returning to research following a career break or time in industry, and those pursuing unconventional career pathways or part-time study (situations often necessitated by caring responsibilities, for example).

Aligning current research and industrial needs for a robust training pipeline, an additional unique feature of the scholarship is an optional final-year placement of up to 12 months, during which students can develop industry-relevant skills in collaboration with local optics and photonics companies.

"Today marks just the beginning of the partnership between The University of Manchester and SPIE.

"The establishment of the SPIE-Manchester Postgraduate Scholarship in Photonics is a testament to our shared values within skills training, fostering diversity in education and the vital role of photonics.

"This announcement holds special significance as it coincides with the University’s bicentenary year. We take great pride in using this generous donation to not only advance research and education but also to solidify our existing partnerships and forge new industrial collaborations to deliver a doctoral training program that will ensure a sustainable workforce for the North West of England."

Dr Patrick Parkinson, Department Head of Research for Physics and Astronomy, The University of Manchester

SPIE CEO Kent Rochford, added: "For many researchers and engineers, the traditional educational paths are barriers to their success.

"The SPIE-Manchester Postgraduate Scholarship in Photonics aims to remove those barriers and provide exciting opportunities for early-career researchers and those who may be pursuing unconventional career paths. Working internally at the University’s Photon Science Institute with the option of an industry-focused placement, promises to benefit young researchers as well as our future diverse workforce. I very much look forward to meeting the leaders in optics and photonics technologies who will emerge from this dynamic partnership between SPIE and The University of Manchester."

The scholarship is the 11 major SPIE gift to universities and institutes as part of the Society’s ongoing program to support the expansion of optical engineering teaching and research.

SPIE Endowment Matching Program was established in 2019 to increase international capacity in the teaching and research of optics and photonics. With this latest gift, SPIE has provided more than $4 million in matching gifts, resulting in more than $11 million in dedicated funds. The SPIE Endowment Matching Program supports optics and photonics education and the future of the industry by contributing a match of up to $500,000 per award to college, institute, and university programs with optics and photonics degrees, or with other disciplines allied to the SPIE mission.