Professor Cather Simpson earned a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies - Echols at the University of Virginia, and a PhD in Medical Sciences at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine as a Howard Hughes Predoctoral Fellow.
During her PhD studies, she became increasingly interested in understanding and exploiting the fundamental interactions of light with molecules. After a Department of Energy Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowship at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, she joined Case Western Reserve University in 1997 to pursue this research.
In the Chemistry Department at CWRU, she earned tenure, was promoted to Associate Professor and started the Center for Chemical Dynamics. Along with her laser research, she fostered innovation in undergraduate teaching, women in science, and ethics in education and research.
In 2007, Professor Simpson joined The University of Auckland to take on a new challenge - to establish and direct the a new multi-user Photon Factory. Her appointment is held jointly in Chemistry and Physics.
The core mission of the Photon Factory is to bring the rich versatility of high-tech, short laser pulses to NZ academic and industry innovators. The facility has grown rapidly since it opened in 2010 - we now have over twenty students and employees who work on dozens of academic and commercial projects. These range from evaluating the photobehaviour of improved solar energy harvesting molecules to fabricating photomasks for microfluidic chip production. Our activities include a recent spin-off company to make a novel cell sorting chip.
Professor Simpson's own research interests lie with the fundamental photodynamics of molecules in the condensed phase. She and her students use ultrafast laser spectroscopy to study rapidly evolving molecules as they convert light to more useful forms of energy.
We want to give our students a path into business – to enable them to create their own jobs.Professor Cather Simpson
March 24, 2021
Funding successes for our investigators and their research programmes during 2020. This funding enables our researchers and collaborators to continue their breakthrough research in advanced materials and nanotechnology.
October 25, 2019
Seven MacDiarmid Institute Investigators have been awarded $20.29 million funding for their research through MBIE Endeavour fund.
October 18, 2019
Five MacDiarmid Institute-related researchers were awarded medals at the Royal Society Te Apārangi 2019 Research Honours ceremony.
September 14, 2018
The MacDiarmid Institute is pleased to share the following successes from MacDiarmid researchers in this year’s MBIE Endeavour fund round.
August 28, 2017
My entire scientific career is based on a bet over a pitcher of beer, when I bet that I would be able to measure the molecular scale heat in haemoglobin, and my advisor said it couldn’t be done. I did manage to, and this set me off in the direction my career has taken.
July 5, 2016
MacDiarmid scientists Cather Simpson and Carla Meledandri win at KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards
July 5, 2016
We congratulate Associate Professor Cather Simpson on winning the Supreme Award at the KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards last night.
June 2, 2016
Congratulations to Associate Professor Cather Simpson on her company winning the AgTech section of the World Cup Tech Challenge in Silicon Valley.
In The Media
May 24, 2016
New Zealand tech start-up company named as finalist for World Cup Tech Challenge led by MacDiarmid Institute and Dodd-Walls Centre...
October 23, 2013
Bill, Alex, Cather, Maan, Shaun and Sandy work at The MacDiarmid Institute - they all do science for a living, but have very different jobs and perspectives. One thing they all have in common is their passion for science.
May 9, 2019
MacDiarmid Investigators Cather Simpson and David Williams discuss how materials science is changing the way farmers analyse milk – Our Changing World.
February 16, 2019
Three MacDiarmid Institute nanoscientists tell their personal stories of life in science, and what it is like being a woman in the physical sciences.
March 21, 2019
Professor, Associate Investigator, and Director of the Photon Factory, Cather Simpson talks about her work in photonics.
March 21, 2019
The MacDiarmid Institute's Professor Cather Simpson talks about her amazing work, and why she loves being a scientist!