34th Annual ATHENA Award Recognizes Two Amazing Optics & Photonics Leaders

Women in our culture have traditionally been recognized as mothers, educators, caregivers, and artists. We’ve seen strides toward greater recognition of women for their other contributions during the past 100 years since women’s suffrage  (the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920). In addition, society is beginning to understand the impact of science and scientists on our day-to-day quality of life.


Dr. Alexis Vogt and Dr. Sujatha Ramanujan

Two women, Sujatha Ramanujan and Alexis Vogt, both scientists of extraordinary accomplishment in our industry, one of them Indian, were recognized for accomplishments in optics, photonics and imaging (OPI) during the 34th annual ATHENA Awards on January 23rd at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center.




Both women were nominated and selected as finalists. While neither of the OPI nominees “won” it is exciting to see two women scientists, one of them a woman of color, recognized by Rochester’s business community. We are particularly proud because both are on the RRPC Board of Directors.

Ramanujan, a nominee in the 2020 ATHENA International Award category, said, “To represent the Indian American  and the Scientific Community in the distinguished company of my fellow nominees is both an honor and mark of progress. When we recognize scientists’ contributions, we encourage young women to pursue STEM careers, to start businesses, and to step outside the boundaries of traditional expectations. In recognizing the contributions of Asian Americans,  we take a step forward acknowledging ethnic minorities as an integral part of the community as a whole.” The ATHENA International Award is given annually to a professional female leader who has demonstrated significant achievements in business, community service, and the professional advancement of women.

When asked about her loss in the ATHENA Young Professional Award category, Alexis Vogt, Endowed Chair and Professor of Optics at Monroe Community college laughs. “That wasn’t a loss! It is a fabulous honor to have been acknowledged with a nomination.“ says Vogt, “My one regret is not having had the opportunity to promote the MCC Optics Program and careers in our field to the 700 people in the room for the awards ceremony!” The ATHENA Young Professional Award recognizes emerging female leaders in the 30 to 45 year old range who demonstrate excellence, creativity, and initiative in their business or profession and serve as a role model for young women both personally and professionally.

By the way, in addition to their careers, both nominees are also mothers and caretakers. Vogt has three young children and Ramanujan is a mother of two. That’s a lot to have on one’s plate.

For more information about the 2020 ATHENA Award nominees, >>click here<<.

Dr. Alexis Vogt has secured over $5.7 million over four years for MCC’s Optical Systems Technology program. Prior to joining MCC, Vogt was applications and business development manager at Melles Griot (IDEX) and prior to that designed contact lenses and intraocular lenses for Bausch & Lomb. Vogt holds three patents and has authored hundreds of papers, presentations, and publications in the field, including the definitions of “light” and “polarization” for the World Book Encyclopedia. She dedicates time to youth outreach and has been involved with coordinating and presenting optics demonstrations to children and educators both within the Rochester community and internationally. Vogt is recipient of the 2018 National Women’s Hall of Fame Keeper of the Flame award and the 2017 New York Photonics Education Award. In addition, Vogt is a recipient of the Rochester Business Journal 2016 “Forty under 40″ award, the 2015 IDEX Keeper Award for high-performance, and the 2012 Bausch & Lomb CEO award. Vogt serves on the Board of Trustees for the American Precision Optics Manufacturers Association, the Rochester Museum and Science Center, and New York Photonics. She is married with three young children.

Dr. Sujatha Ramanujan is serial entrepreneur and seasoned executive with 25 years of experience in Clinical Devices and in Consumer Electronics. Sujatha has started, built and grown three startup businesses. She has held scientific, technical leadership, and laboratory head positions in Chrysler Corporation, GE, Eastman Kodak, Carestream, and Intrinsiq Materials. Ramanujan holds 28 issued US patents. As a corporate investor for Eastman Kodak, then later working with regional investment councils, she provides guidance to start-ups, and helps develop M&A strategies.  Dr. Ramanujan holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan and is a Board Member of the National Women’s Hall of Fame. She is currently Managing Director of Nextcorps Luminate, the Photonics Start-up Accelerator. She is married with two children.


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New York Photonics is a not-for-profit organization founded to promote and enhance the New York State optics, photonics and imaging industry by fostering the cooperation of business, academia and government.


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