Professor Cather Simpson - "Making Light Work: From Light-Matter States to Sperm Sorting"

BIO - Cather Simpson joined the University of Auckland in 2007, with a joint appointment in Physics and the Chemical Sciences. She received her Ph.D. in the USA in Medical Sciences with a focus on the ultrafast vibrational dynamics of heme proteins. After a Department of Energy Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowship, she joined the Chemistry Department at Case Western Reserve University as an Assistant Professor to pursue research in ultrafast energy conversion in molecules, and earned tenure and promotion. She is currently a professor at the University of Auckland, a joint appointment between the physics and chemistry schools. She is the founder of the Photon Factory laser lab at the University of Auckland and the chief science officer for two spin-off companies, Engender Technologies and Orbis Diagnostics. She is an Associate Investigator for the Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technologies and an Emeritus Investigator for the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology. She was awarded the Royal Society Te Apārangi Pickering Medal in 2019. She has a strong focus on teaching, mentoring and public outreach and is an outspoken advocate for issues of gender equality and ethics in science.


ABSTRACT - Light is one of nature’s mechanisms for carrying energy and information from one place to another. Understanding how that light interacts with matter so that the energy it carries is transformed into more forms is the focus of this talk. I will show some recent results at two ends of the fundamental-applied spectrum: (1) recent studies of light-coupled catalysis, and (2) sorting sperm by sex for the dairy industry using lasers.