UCF has received a $325,000 gift from SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, to create the SPIE-Glebov Family Optics and Photonics Graduate Scholarship Fund.

“Together, we are investing in future generations of optical scientists, because talent does not correlate with the ability to pay for an education.” — Leonid Glebov

The gift was made through SPIE’s new Endowment Matching Program and required UCF’s College of Optics and Photonics (CREOL) to raise $325,000 in matching funds. The match was made with a generous gift from Larissa Glebova and Leonid Glebov, both long-time faculty members and supporters of CREOL, and funds from the CREOL Research Foundation Royalty Account, which consists of royalties on discoveries made at CREOL. When coupled with the matching funds, SPIE’s gift totals $650,000.

“We are delighted to join with the Glebovs in creating a scholarship fund that will exist in perpetuity to help support the next generations of scientists and engineers who will create the future using optics and photonics,” SPIE CEO Kent Rochford says.

SPIE, an educational not-for-profit organization founded in 1955, works to advance light-based science, engineering and technology. From ultrafast lasers to fiber optics, the science of light (photonics) is applied across a broad group of industries and is estimated to have an annual economic impact of $3 trillion. Familiarity with optical technology is becoming a common job requirement for scientists and engineers as the diverse applications range from communications systems to virtual-reality displays.

The SPIE Endowment Matching Program, established in 2019, is a $2.5 million, five-year, educational-funding initiative designed to increase international capacity in the teaching and research of optics and photonics. With individual awards up to $500,000, the program provides funds to university programs with optics and photonics degrees or with other disciplines allied to the SPIE mission. This program is in addition to over $5 million provided in 2019 by SPIE to community support including scholarships and awards, outreach and advocacy programs, travel grants, public policy, and educational resources.

One of the world’s foremost institutions for research and education in optical and photonic science and engineering, CREOL empowers master’s and doctoral students to work alongside world-renowned faculty researchers to pioneer new technology. Through strong industry partnerships, students gain experience and obtain jobs with innovative companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and the Harris Corporation.

Both Glebov, a research professor and his wife, Glebova, a retired research scientist, contributed to that success and achieved their own while working at UCF.

“We are grateful for the Glebov Family, who have been a part of UCF for more than 20 years, and their service to the work and research here at CREOL,” says David Hagan, interim dean of CREOL. “The investment from SPIE through its Endowment Matching Program magnifies the Glebovs’ generosity, creating immediate impact and ensuring future success.”

Scholarships make a cation possible for many students and reward top students who choose to attend UCF.

“Together, we are investing in future generations of optical scientists, because talent does not correlate with the ability to pay for an education,” Glebov says.