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Meet the ECOC 2023 organising committee

Why have you chosen to get involved on the ECOC 2023 organising committee?

David Richardson, Deputy Director of the Optoelectronics Research Centre, University of Southampton: ECOC has been a fixture in my calendar since I began my career in photonics and I would like to give something back to help educate and enthuse future generations of photonics engineers and scientists.

Andrew Lord, Senior Manager of Optical Research, BT: ECOC is the premier European optical communications conference and Glasgow is a fantastic city – what’s not to like! The photonics industry is, as ever, in a rapid state of change with thrilling developments, and it is therefore a huge privilege to help steer the technical content at ECOC next year, to reflect these industry-wide developments.

Will Stewart, Independent Telecommunications-Photonics Professional: The conference is the top technical conference in the field worldwide, and remains so 50 years after the first in London (which I did attend!). And Glasgow promises to be a top venue.

Harald Haas, Distinguished Professor and Director of LiFi Research and Development Centre, University of Strathclyde: Besides its stunning nature and unique culture, Scotland is the home of a thriving photonics industry and world-class research. It is a privilege to be part of the organising committee, and I hope the programme and the local environment will stimulate great discussions.

What did you most enjoy about ECOC 2022 in Basel?

Andrew Lord: I enjoyed the first conference in several years which was significantly face-to-face. It was such a relief to meet so many old friends and get stuck into some of the deep questions facing our industry.

Harald Haas: Basel was fantastic – an excellent programme and a great venue. What I enjoyed most was the opportunity to randomly bump into colleagues and friends – something so refreshing in a time of managed Teams/Zoom calls.

Will Stewart: Really getting back together after pandemic-induced virtual meetings.  These are much better than nothing but Basel was great for being a real physical get-together where those vital meetings with friends that add so much happened again -I have really missed them!

David Richardson: Catching up with colleagues and friends who I have missed seeing since the pandemic. This was the first event that I have been to that felt as if we were getting back to normal business. It was also a great location and technical programme.

What are you most looking forward to when ECOC 2023 comes to the UK?

Harald Haas: I very much look forward to welcoming colleagues and friends in a city which I have made my working home, and which has such a rich history. It played a pivotal role for the 2nd industrial revolution through pioneers such as James Watt, and hopefully ECOC 2023 will contribute to shaping the 21st century.

Andrew Lord: The whisky! Following that, I anticipate a warm ( if potentially wet!) Glaswegian welcome which will help the community to defrost and get stuck into some lively and opinionated debates!

David Richardson: The opportunity for the UK to showcase its strength in photonics and to enjoy all that Glasgow and Scotland more broadly has to offer in terms of hospitality, sights and surrounding countryside.

Will Stewart: Another opportunity for the big UK community to show its worth! And another chance to wear my kilt, obviously!

Which topic on the technical scope are you looking forward to learning more about, and why?

Will Stewart: I am particularly keen on two developing tech areas - ultra-dense optical integration (meaning mostly plasmonic confinement) which optical circuits are at last approaching electronic densities, and optical beam-steering. In the application space the full fibre rollout is a revolution the sheer scale of which in improved user experience is only gradually dawning on the world - to each citizen their own fibre!

David Richardson: For me it is about the new developments in fibre technology and cabling – lots of new innovation and breakthroughs have emerged over the past decade or so, with several of the most promising now moving from research to early stage trials and deployments.

Andrew Lord: I sense that we are approaching a key point for the development of Photonic Integrated Circuits. As the various materials technologies mature, the focus is turning to potential use cases, and I am very much looking forward to hearing about and participating in that discussion.

Harald Haas: I am keen to see new technologies, devices and systems that can support optical wireless (or optical free-space) multiuser access networks leading to new breakthroughs in achievable wireless data rates, data densities, mobility support and physical layer security. I also look forward to learning about the latest advancements of point-to-point long-range free-space optical (FSO) systems for satellite, terrestrial and underwater applications.

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