The Schawlow-Townes Symposium on Photonics


Professor Charles H. Townes, Nobel laureate in physics for his groundbreaking work in quantum electronics.

The University of Ottawa established the Schawlow-Townes Symposium on Photonics in 2012, in honour of Charles H. Townes and the late Arthur L. Schawlow, who pioneered laser technology in the 1950s. The Nobel Prize-winning physicists pushed back the frontiers of photonics—the science of light—with their invention. Today, the laser is used in countless products and applications, from the computer hard drive to laser eye surgery. This annual symposium aims to bring to light the research and discoveries of photonics experts at the University of Ottawa, from across Canada and from around the world. It is an important step toward realizing the University’s goal of building the largest photonics centre in Canada, which includes assembling a team of world-class researchers and the construction of the Advanced Research Complex, a multi-million dollar cutting-edge facility. Bridging the gap between theory, research and applied science, the Schawlow-Townes Symposium explores the science of light from all angles. It’s a gathering of the brightest minds in the field who, like the symposium’s namesakes, continually strive to push the boundaries of photonics.

Speakers (2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012)


  • Alexander Gaeta, Department of Applied Physics and of Materials Science Columbia University, New York, US
  • Peter Knight, Imperial College and National Physical Laboratory, London, UK
  • Vladimir Shalaev, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Purdue University; Birch Nanotechnology Center, Indiana, US
  • Mario Pinto, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Ottawa, CA


  • Ferenc Krauz, Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics
  • Serge Haroche, Collège de France
  • Mordechai Segev, Israel Institute of Technology
  • Nader Engheta, University of Pennsylvania


  • Marlan Scully, Burgess Distinguished Professor, TEES Distinguished Research Chair and Director of the Institute for Quantum Science and Engineering
  • Ian Walmsley, Hooke Professor of Experimental Physics and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research, University Collections), University of Oxford
  • Thomas Jennewein, Associate Professor, Institute for Quantum Computing and Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Waterloo
  • Eli Yablonovitch, The James & Katherine Lau Chair in Engineering Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences, UC Berkeley Director of the NSF Center for Energy Efficient Electronics Science (E3S)
  • Miles Padgett, Kelvin Chair of Natural Philosophy, University of Glasgow
  • Vahid Sandoghdar, Director at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light Alexander von Humboldt Professor, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg


  • Bahaa E. A. Saleh, Dean of CREOL, The College of Optics and Photonics at the University of Central Florida
  • Philip Russell, Director of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light in Erlangen, Germany
  • Federico Capasso, Robert L. Wallace Professor of Applied Physics
  • Maurice O’Sullivan, Senior Director of Systems Engineering at Ciena Corporation in Ottawa


  • Charles H. Townes, Nobel laureate in physics for his groundbreaking work in quantum electronics.
  • Gerd Leuchs, Director, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, Germany.
  • Erich Ippen, world-renowned expert in femtosecond optics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.