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ROCHESTER, NY, September 23, 2021 – The Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster (RPPC) / New York Photonics honored five leaders in education, business, and the public sector, for their contributions to New York State’s optics and photonics industry.

New York Photonics Executive Director Tom Battley presented the awards at the organization’s 2021 annual meeting, attended by stakeholders from industry, government, and education from across the region.

The RRPC Entrepreneurship Award is given each year to individuals demonstrating creativity, an innovative spirit, and drive in pursuit of the dream of creating an industry-leading company in the optics, photonics, and imaging industries. The 2021 award winner is G. Michael Morris, PhD.

G. Michael Morris, PhDMorris founded and served as the CEO of RPC Photonics, Inc., which was acquired by Viavi Solution, Inc. in October 2018. He presently serves as the CEO of Apollo Optical Systems, Inc.

Morris was the CEO of Corning Rochester Photonics Corporation; CEO and Founder of Rochester Photonics Corporation (RPC); and Professor of Optics at the Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester. He is past president of the Optical Society of America (2003) and past chairman of the Board of the OSA Foundation (2014).

Companies that Morris established have created hundreds of jobs and continue to employ people in Rochester today.

Morris has published more than 70 peer-reviewed publications and is an Inventor on over 30 U.S. Patents. His research has spanned a wide variety of topics crossing all aspects of the optics industry.

The RRPC Leadership Award is given each year to an individual who works with RRPC members and the community to promote the Rochester-region’s optics, photonics and imaging industries. The Leadership Award recipient for 2021 is Alexis Vogt, PhD, Endowed Chair and Professor of Optics at Monroe Community College (MCC).

Alexis Vogt, PhDVogt was appointed associate professor of optics at Monroe Community College in 2015 and became Professor of optics and endowed chair in 2020. She is the only endowed chair of optics at a community college in America. Vogt’s success training optics technicians, cultivating industry and community partnerships, and growing the world’s only program awarding associate degrees in precision optics is recognized internationally.

As chair, Vogt secured more than $5.9M for Monroe Community College’s Optical Systems Technology program through corporate and federal grants. Under her leadership, enrollment in the MCC Optical Systems Technology program has grown by 1920% over five years.

Additionally, under Vogt’s leadership, MCC secured a $760,000 grant from the Corning Incorporated Foundation in 2019. She leads optics dual enrollment programs with area high schools and trains teachers to incorporate optics courses into high school curricula. Today, there are 16 high schools in the Rochester region teaching dual enrollment optics courses. Vogt has led outreach efforts to grow enrollment and awareness of optics as a career choice. She serves as an optics industry liaison to cultivate and grow industry partnerships throughout the region and the nation, and was recently named Executive Director of Workforce and Higher Education at AmeriCOM, the American Center for Optics Manufacturing.


Rosario “Ross” MicaliThe RRPC Education Award is given each year to an individual for inspiring students to embrace optics, photonics, and imaging sciences and guiding them in career development. The Education Award recipient for 2021 is Rosario “Ross” Micali, Apprenticeship Advocate and National Work-Based Learning Coordinator, Monroe Community College.

For 36 years at Xerox Corporation, Micali was an educational, employee development, and learning specialist in the Manufacturing division, and for  the skilled trades. After retiring from Xerox, Micali joined the MCC Workforce Develop department where he has developed curriculum, job-readiness programs for traditional and underserved populations, and skilled trade apprenticeship programs. He also developed an Applied Integrated Technology AAS Degree Program and a Precision Optics Manufacturing Technician Apprenticeship program. He currently serves as Apprenticeship Advocate and National Work-Based Learning Coordinator at Monroe Community College, assisting Precision Optics Manufacturing companies, both locally and nationally, in establishing Optics Manufacturing Technician apprenticeships.


Joe MorelleUnited States Congressman Joe Morelle (NYS District 25) received the Optics & Photonics Award for his long-standing support for the Finger Lakes region’s optics, photonics, and imaging industry.

New York Photonics Executive Director Tom Battley highlighted Morelle’s support both as the New York State Assembly Majority Leader and Congressman for New York’s 25th Congressional District, including founding and co-chairing the Congressional Optics & Photonics Caucus in 2020. In addition, Congressman Morelle has supported numerous initiatives including:

  • A $4.4 million grant to the Monroe Community College Precision Optics Program from the Office of Naval Research
  • National Science Foundation funding to conceptualize a Quantum Photonic Institute at Rochester Institute of Technology
  • $15M in funding for Nextcorps / Luminate, the world’s biggest optics, photonics, and imaging business accelerator
  • Defense appropriations in 2020 and 2021 to establish the American Center for Optics Manufacturing (AmeriCOM).

“Congressman Joe Morelle’s keen interest in innovation and his support of emerging technologies has resulted in quality optics, photonics, and imaging jobs in our region,” said Battley. “His enthusiasm directly benefits the region and builds upon our capacity to lead the industry around the world.”

“I am honored to be the recipient of this year’s distinguished Optics and Photonics Award,” said Congressman Joe Morelle. “The optics and photonics industry runs deep within our community and is quite literally lighting the way toward our future. I will always work to support this industry so we can continue to provide thousands of good-paying jobs, bolster our regional economy, and push the boundaries of scientific breakthrough.”

Congressman Morelle was presented with the distinction at the end of a virtual award ceremony held this past weekend.


The inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award went to Professor Emeritus, Brian J. Thompson, PhD, for “A Lifetime of Making Things Happen.” The award was presented by Tom Brown, PhD, Director of the Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester.

Thompson, a native of Preston, England, holds B.Sc. and PhD degrees from the University of Manchester. He has been a member of the faculty of the University of Rochester since 1968 and served as the fourth director of the Institute of Optics.

Brian J. Thompson, PhDDuring his introduction, Brown acknowledged Thompson for a long list of accomplishments and for establishing strong relationships with industry that spans 47 years and includes household name companies such as Apple and Microsoft. Thompson established the University of Rochester Press in the late 1980s, which routinely publishes 30 to 35 titles each year over a diverse range of fields including African studies, modern and early modern European history, and the history of medicine. Its highest profile publication is the Eastman Studies in Music series.

Thompson progressed through the ranks at the University of Rochester, becoming the Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science in 1975 and, in 1984, the university’s Provost. Throughout this progression, he continued to teach classes, supervise graduate students, and participate in research. Upon his retirement in 1994, Thompson was appointed Provost Emeritus of the University of Rochester, a title he retains to this day.

“His influence on the field of optics goes well beyond his academic teaching, research, and administration skills. Brian has a passion for assuring scientific and technical knowledge is published and disseminated to industry. In this regard he practices what he preaches with over 180 publications to his name,” said Brown.

Thompson, who was on hand to receive his award, once said, “The job of Provost is making the academic programs as strong as you can. Those were exciting years. The job gave me an opportunity to make things happen for other people, and I got a big kick out of that.”


About New York Photonics

The Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster (RRPC / 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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If you would like more information about this topic, contact Executive Director, Tom Battley at (585) 329-4029 or email at

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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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