In early December, Otago Dodd-Walls students hosted the 12th Conference on Optics, Atoms and Laser Applications, known as KOALA. This is an annual, international student conference supported under the International OSA Network of Students (IONS) programme, which supports conferences run for students, by students.
The programme consisted of a series of student talks and poster presentation, with invited speakers giving plenary talks. Attendees covered a range of topics in optical and quantum sciences, from structural colour production in insects, to spectroscopy of meat predicting quality, and from quantum squeezed light for observing gravity waves, to quantum computing and entanglement. Invited speakers, who were international experts in their fields, gave talks on optical simulations, quantum vorticies, nanotechnology / metasurfaces, and the science of precision measurement. KOALA also included workshops
on science communication, and professional skills for future careers of the attendees.
The 60 students who attended the conference comprised mostly early stage PhD candidates, though this ranged from undergrad and honours to senior PhD students. While most were from Australia and New Zealand, there were representatives from across the globe, including the US, UK, Philippines, Poland, and China. The conference was well received by the attendees, with many noting the relaxed atmosphere “takes off much of the pressure when presenting”, and the variety of presentations introducing “topics
[they] never knew existed”.
The Dodd-Walls Centre was a Gold sponsor to KOALA 2019.