This committee was established to recognizes an individual or group who has had a significant impact on the global optics and photonics community or on society as a whole stemming from non-research oriented activities. The award seeks to recognize achievement/s that would not be eligible for a traditional OSA award or medal. Nominees do not need to be OSA members or active in the field.
The award was established in 1997 with the support of Milton Chang and New Focus to strengthen the link between the optics community and the public. In 2012, the award was re-named in memory of Robert E. Hopkins thanks to contributions from CVI Melles Griot, Semrock, and ATFilms, Units of IDEX Corporation, Corning Incorporated, Hellma USA Incorporated, IPG Photonics Corp., LaCroix Optical Co, Sydor Optics Inc, u2t Photonics AG, John Bruning, William Mimmack, G. Michael Morris, Charles and Judith Munnerlyn, Jannick and Kevin Rolland-Thompson, and James C. Wyant.