What will the weather be like?

December is one of Sydney’s warmest months. Average temperatures range from 25 – 30 degrees Celsius. Occasionally, temperatures do exceed 35°C. During hot weather, make sure you stay hydrated and in the shade. For outdoor events, we recommend that you use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a rating of at least SPF 30+, and wear a hat and sunglasses.

What’s the dress code for KOALA?

There is no official dress code for KOALA, and participants may feel free to wear whatever they feel most comfortable in. As a guideline though, “Smart Casual” clothes are appropriate for most KOALA events. Keep in mind though that there may be particular occasions where you will want to make a good impression on the people that you interact with, like when presenting your talk or poster, at the Industry and Innovation Evening and at the Conference Dinner.

Due to the warm weather in Sydney in December, we would recommend bringing shorts and short-sleeved shirts. We would also recommend bringing a light jacket in case it gets cool in the evening, and a raincoat or umbrella just in case it rains.

Do I need to give a presentation?

All attendees of KOALA should give a presentation about their research, in the form of either a talk or a poster. We feel that gaining experience giving oral presentations at conferences is an important part of developing as a scientist, as it helps improve your science communication skills. That’s why this year we will once again encourage all attendees to give at least a brief oral presentation, with “poster preview” talks, where you will have 1 minutes to advertise your poster with a single slide ahead of the poster session.

Do I need a visa?

If you are coming from afar, please take a moment to check whether you require a visa to attend KOALA. All visitors to Australia will be assessed against Australia’s health and character requirements. Citizens of New Zealand meeting these requirements are typically granted a special category (subclass 444) visa upon arrival in Australia. Citizens of other countries should consult the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website to determine the most suitable visa. For most, the eVisitor (subclass 651), Electronic Travel Authority (subclass 601) or Visitor (subclass 600) visa may be suitable.

The following publications from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection contain information about travelling to Australia to attend a conference: General information for visa applicants and Visa Options for Conferences.

If you require a visa, please check the requirements to see if you require proof of your conference attendance. If so, we can issue a letter of invitation. Note that you must have registered and paid for KOALA before we issue such a letter.

Lastly, please apply for your visa as early as possible to avoid disappointment, as the process can take a long time! It is recommended that you apply at least 2 months in advance.

Is there a list of conference topics for KOALA?

The broad range of topics covered will vary from year to year, meaning we cannot compile an accurate list of delegate contributed topics until after the registration process. Previous conferences have had presentations in the following variety of fields: astrophotonics, atomic physics, biophotonics,  biomedical imaging, general imaging methods, micro and nanofabrication, metrology, laser applications and development, optics, photonics, quantum optics, waveguides, and telecommunications devices.

Given our emphasis on early career professional skill development, we encourage attendance from anyone working in the broad field of optics, atoms, and lasers. The schedule will additionally include plenary presentations from renowned research professionals and professional development sessions. 

What expenses will I incur during KOALA?

The registration fee to attend KOALA covers all meals, accommodation, and events during KOALA. You will need to organise your own travel to the KOALA conference if you do not apply for a Travel Grant. You may need a small amount of money on hand during the week if you wish to purchase additional drinks or food on top of what is provided.

Who will be hosting KOALA next year?

Good Question! And maybe you can tell us…

KOALA is organised and run by an OSA and/or SPIE student chapter (or chapters) associated with one of the Universities in Australia or New Zealand (you can see more about our history here). Each year at KOALA, the groups who are interested in hosting the conference the following year will spend the week sweet-talking the current organisers and telling them all of the reasons why a KOALA in their city would be fantastic! We will think it over carefully, and the next hosts will be announced during the conference dinner on Thursday night.

If you are interested in hosting IONS KOALA 2019, the first step is to just let us know asap by sending in an email to ionskoala2018@gmail.com – we will give you the information you need to get the idea into motion! After this, you should begin thinking about some of the details, who would be on the organising committee and whether you have the manpower to pull it off – ask students in your department, and/or consider teaming up with another University in your area. Sometime before IONS KOALA 2018 starts, you should send us a letter via email explaining why you would like to host KOALA and why we should choose your city/uni as the next hosts.

Hosting a KOALA conference is a very big commitment, but it is also an incredibly worthwhile experience and a lot of fun – please consider becoming the hosts of next year’s event!!