Black History Month: Dr. Khalid Omer
In celebration of Black History Month, Feb. 1 - Mar. 1, we recognize, Dr. Khalid Omer, Visiting Research Scientist at Meta Reality Labs. Khalid is also an alumnus of the Wyant College and graduated with his B.S., 2018 and Ph.D., 2022.
Among his scholarship honors while a student at the University of Arizona, Khalid was awarded Dean's Fund for Excellence Scholarship (2017-18) and the Arthur G. and Beatrice DeBell Memorial Graduate Student Scholarship in Optical Sciences (2018-19).
Please tell us who you are in less than 20 words.
A dancer, scientist, and BBQ enjoyer.
What and/or who influenced your academic and career choice for optics/photonics?
My academic and career choice was influenced by my high school economics teacher Mr. Roth. He graduated from the University of Arizona with a business major and knew about the Optics program offered at the university. He recognized my interest in physics and suggested the field to me. If it weren't for his recommendation, I may have never discovered this program. And as I have pursued further technical experiences and research opportunities in optics and photonics, my passion for the field continues to grow.
Please tell us about your career path, including your position today?
I am currently a Visiting Research Scientist at Meta Reality Labs, which is essentially a postdoctoral position. At Meta, I am working on research similar to what I did during my PhD. I work on polarization imaging applications in graphics and computer vision. I plan to pursue this unique area of optics further after my postdoc, as I see great potential in its applications for AR/VR.
During your time as a student, what resource(s) did you most appreciate? What would you have wished to be available at that time?
I don't think I could have managed without our excellent administrative staff. They were always available to assist with class-related issues and funding advice. To address the 2nd question, I wish there was a better bridge program for community college student to attend OSC. Financial and academic support often prevent attendance. I believe there is untapped potential within the community college student population. As someone who attended community college before joining OpSci, it was challenging to transition to OSC.
What advice would you offer current optics students and early-career professionals?
Don't let others distract you from your achievements and success. It's easy to get caught up in the politics within school and friend circles. Prioritize your studies for success, but take breaks when needed. Finding balance can be challenging, but it gets easier over time.