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Professor Cather Simpson

Professor Cather Simpson

Emeritus Investigator

Phone:
+64 9 373 7599, ext. 83525

Address:
University of Auckland
School of Chemical Sciences
Private Bag 92019
Auckland 1142

Biography

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.  

Research interests

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
Professor Cather Simpson

In the news

News Article

MacDiarmid researchers successful in 2019 MBIE round

October 25, 2019

Seven MacDiarmid Institute Investigators have been awarded $20.29 million funding for their research through MBIE Endeavour fund.

Read more about MacDiarmid researchers successful in 2019 MBIE round

News Article

MacDiarmid Institute Research Honours winners

October 18, 2019

Five MacDiarmid Institute-related researchers were awarded medals at the Royal Society Te Apārangi 2019 Research Honours ceremony.

Read more about MacDiarmid Institute Research Honours winners

Annual Report

Case studies - Annual Report 2018

April 8, 2019

Engender Ltd was formed by Principal Investigator Professor Cather Simpson in 2011 to provide a solution to the problem dairy farmers have of selecting the sex of their calves.

Read more about Case studies - Annual Report 2018

News Article

MacDiarmid researchers successful in latest MBIE round

September 14, 2018

The MacDiarmid Institute is pleased to share the following successes from MacDiarmid researchers in this year’s MBIE Endeavour fund round.

Read more about MacDiarmid researchers successful in latest MBIE round

News Article

Women in Nanoscience

September 4, 2017

Following the MacDiarmid regional lecture series we have gathered some pieces where women in Nanoscience tell their stories.

Read more about Women in Nanoscience

News Article

Professor Cather Simpson

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.

Read more about Professor Cather Simpson

News Article

MacDiarmid scientists win at KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards

July 5, 2016

MacDiarmid scientists Cather Simpson and Carla Meledandri win at KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards

Read more about MacDiarmid scientists win at KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards

News Article

MacDiarmid and Dodd-Walls Investigator wins KiwiNet Supreme Award

July 5, 2016

We congratulate Associate Professor Cather Simpson on winning the Supreme Award at the KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards last night.

Read more about MacDiarmid and Dodd-Walls Investigator wins KiwiNet Supreme Award

News Article

Engender Technology wins in AgTech, World Cup Tech Challenge

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.

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In The Media

Cather Simpson’s start-up company Engender Technology shortlisted for the World Cup Tech Challenge

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...

Read more about Cather Simpson’s start-up company Engender Technology shortlisted for the World Cup Tech Challenge

Learning Hub

Nature of Science – meet our scientists

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.

Read more about Nature of Science – meet our scientists

Podcasts

Videos

2017 Lecture Series: Women in nanoscience

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.

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Lasers, milk and sperm

July 2, 2019

AMN9 - Professor Cather Simpson talks about her work in photonics and her curiosity about how materials behave at the nanoscale.

Read more about Lasers, milk and sperm

Lasers, Milk and Sperm - Cather Simpson

March 21, 2019

Professor, Associate Investigator, and Director of the Photon Factory, Cather Simpson talks about her work in photonics.

Read more about Lasers, Milk and Sperm - Cather Simpson

Nature of Science - Cather Simpson

March 21, 2019

The MacDiarmid Institute's Professor Cather Simpson talks about her amazing work, and why she loves being a scientist!

Read more about Nature of Science - Cather Simpson