FIP International Year of Light Contest

The United Nations has proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL 2015).

In honor of this momentous occasion, the Duke University Fitzpatrick Institute for Photonics (FIP) Annual Symposium waived the $150 fee for a select group of student representatives (including Duke undergraduate students and non-Duke graduate students).

Applicants selected for this group were titled FIP International Year of Light Student Fellows.


1st Place

Kapila Wijayarante, University of Virginia  (Read Kapila's Essay)

"... So far, we considered our Earth as the ‘blue planet’ because of its oceanic signature. But if any alien observed us from outer space, they would rather notice Earth as a planet of light – day and night."

2nd Place

Sam Migirditch, Appalachian State University (Watch on YouTube)


3rd Place

Niranjan Sridhar, University of Virginia (Read Niranjan's Essay)

"... Light has been an enigma for most of human history. Maxwell's equations were formulated less than a century ago, and lasers invented barely half a century ago. We have scarcely begun to utilize light and its myriad properties."


Honorable Mentions

Ben Migirditch, Appalachian State University (Watch on YouTube)


Wenjiang Fan, University of Virginia  (Read Wenjiang's Essay)

"... With a relatively simple piece of technology powered by yttrium aluminum garnet, the ophthalmologist gave my sister her sight back. And in a way, they gave me my sister back."



Estiak Ahmad, North Carolina A&T University
Tanwa Arpornthip, University of Virginia
Jacob Cole, Appalachian State University
Wenjiang Fan, University of Virginia
Elizabeth Graham, Wake Health
Ben Groelke, Appalachian State University
Pavan Kasanaboina, North Carolina A&T University
Evyn Lee, Appalachian State University
Sha Li, University of Virginia
Eric Magnuson, University of Virginia
Ben Migirditch, Appalachian State University
Sam Migirditch, Appalachian State University
Chen Moran, University of Virginia
Rajveer Nehra, University of Virginia
Ohja Sai Krishna, North Carolina A&T University
Niranjan Sridhar, University of Virginia
Pei Wang, University of Virginia
Ye Wang, University of Virginia
Kapila Wijayaratne, University of Virginia

ALL contestants were given free registration to attend The World Photonics Forum and the 2015 FIP Symposium celebrating the International Year of Light on March 9-10, 2015.  You will find the best entries from 1st place to honorable mentions were given recognition on our webpage so that the general public can view their responses to the topic.


How students applied

To apply to become a FIP International Year of Light Student Fellow, students submitted their answer to the following topic question, in a:

  • 2- to 3-minute video clip, or
  • 2- to 3-minute audio clip, or
  • 1,000-word essay

All majors were invited to apply

The symposium was held from March 9-10, 2015, on Duke University’s West Campus.

The Fitzpatrick Institute for Photonics wanted to include the full breadth of majors on campus, and is especially interested in offering this opportunity to people with backgrounds in the humanities as well as the sciences.


Topic question

"How have light technologies (e.g., imaging, lasers, fiber optics) positively impacted your life?"