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Professor of Physics & Chemical Sciences, University of Auckland, Waipapa Taumata Rau

Cather earned tenure at CWRU exploring fundamental chemical physics before moving to Auckland in 2007. Her research focuses upon the ultrafast interaction of light with matter, with a particular emphasis upon how molecules and materials convert light into more useful forms of energy. At Auckland, she took a joint position in Physics and Chemical Sciences, and founded a multi-user, outwardly-facing laser centre called the Photon Factory. The Photon Factory’s mission is to exploit exotic, ultrashort pulsed lasers to enable cross-disciplinary research from the very fundamental to the applied and entreprenurial. Her research led to two internationally award-winning spin-out companies. Engender Technologies (est. 2011; acquired internationally 2018) is developing technology to sort sperm by sex for the dairy industry. Orbis Diagnostics (est. 2016) is commercialising a rapid quantitative immunity test for COVID-19 at point-of-need. She recently moved back to the university from Engender, and took up a part time position as a Partner in Pacific Channel, helping hard-tech startups succeed in translating university research into impact. She is a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry and the Royal Society Te Aparangi. Recent accolades include a National Tertiary Teaching Excellence - Ako Aotearoa Award, Kiwinet Researcher Entrepreneur & Supreme Award Winner, the Shimadzu Prize from the NZ Institute of Chemistry and the Pickering Medal from the Royal Society Te Aparangi.


  • –present
    Professor of Physics, University of Auckland