Message from the Dean

    Date Posted: 
    Wednesday, March 25, 2020

    For those of you in our broader OSC community, I wanted to provide a brief update on how the Wyant College of Optical Sciences has been navigating the challenges and turbulent events associated with the Coronavirus pandemic.

    While the Meinel building has switched to card access entry only, and the building is very quiet with most working from offsite, there’s a lot going on behind the curtains.

    If you were here, you would undoubtedly be very proud of the resiliency and dedication of our students, faculty and staff, and their mutual commitment to find creative ways to continue our mission.  OSC is an amazing community indeed.

    As you have heard, teaching nationwide has migrated to online classes – requiring in many, many cases rapid adoption of new online meeting methodologies and content delivery software.  This will continue for the full semester, and is especially hard for many of our students who in some cases have difficulty with a suitable setting and adequate internet bandwidth.  Some graduate classes, and all our undergraduate classes, have not previously been offered online, requiring that our faculty readjust and generate new content – with laboratory sections presenting unique challenges that we are trying to resolve as rapidly as possible.

    Our research mission, while substantially scaled down for now, continues for those who elect to work on-site under the rigid constraints and strict rules we have put in place to ensure safety.  These include no shared offices, and only one person in an optics lab at any time using alternate day or AM/PM shifts with disinfecting between uses – and this mode only when the lab activities can be safely conducted by an individual.

    During these times of increased isolation, it is very exciting to see the students, and our SOCk and WiO student groups, get creative, including new online venues like the Zoom OpTea meeting room for social and scientific exchange. Additionally, students in our outreach course are going live and performing family-friendly Facebook Live optics demos on our Wyant College Facebook page. Lastly, on-site student researchers are sharing their lab spaces in Virtual Tours. Find the schedule for these virtual events here.

    The Coronavirus is certainly bringing serious hardship to some students and their families – undergraduate and graduate alike.  UA has set up an emergency fund crowdfunding site for UA students where you may wish to make donations to help students with serious needs:  https://crowdfund.arizona.edu/project/20499

    Stay safe and healthy!

    Tom Koch
    Dean, Wyant College of Optical Sciences