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Optica Foundation awards Kenyan $100,000 USD for innovation

University of Eldoret’s Dismas Choge is the winner of a $100,000 USD -approximately Sh.11.8 million- grant from the Optica Foundation.

His work, which focuses on the development of tunable multi-color laser for sensing and a case study for hyperspectral detection of water contaminants, will be featured throughout the coming year in Optica Foundation efforts.

Choge is among the 10 recipients of the $1 Million USD by Optica Foundation Applied Research with each of the awardees receiving $100,000 USD to impact global issues.

“The selection committee is inspired by the outstanding quality of the awardees who truly represent the finest aspects of our membership. The winning proposals demonstrate superior creative ingenuity, applying photonics in novel ways to work toward solutions for a wide berth of society’s most critical challenges,” said Alan Willner, chair of the 20th Anniversary Challenge Selection Committee and an Optica past president.

He said, “The award money will help provide recipients with an opportunity to explore their innovative ideas and benefit the larger good in the process.”

A statement to newsrooms indicates that 10 recipients selected from nearly 100 global applications, are set to begin their research immediately and that additional details about their award-winning proposals will be released in the coming weeks; updates on programmatic milestones will be shared by mid-2023.

“Scientific and engineering advancements from the global optics and photonics community shape our world, but these achievements require financial investments to explore their merit and bring them to market,” noted Willner.

The Optica Foundation launched its 20 Anniversary Challenge to address this need, draw out novel ideas from early-career professionals, and provide the seed money to investigate impactful hypotheses in the areas of environment, health, and information,” read the statement.

Others who received the grant are Ashim Dhakal, Phutung Research Institute, Nepal Piloting an affordable and real-time Water Assessment System (WAS) for detection of fecal coliforms in drinking water, Michela Florinda Picardi, ICFO – The Institute of Photonics Sciences, Spain THUNDER – THermal UNpolarized radiation Design for Energy Recycling, Guangwei Hu, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Single-shot, Isotropic and Miniaturized Differential Interference Contrast (SIM-DIC) Microscopy based on computational flat-optics among others.

By Joseph Ng’ang’a

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