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Laura McKemmish

Senior lecturer, UNSW Sydney

I am media-trained, and have given three radio interviews, two live, and a large number of outreach events. Often I talk about how my research putting molecules in computers to determine how they absorb light is used to look for aliens in exoplanets.

I consider myself to be a quantum chemist and molecular physicist. My expertise is in theoretical and computational modelling of molecules, particularly their spectroscopy. I love interdisciplinary work and combining interesting methods with interesting applications.

I also have an ongoing interest in combining outreach, teaching and research.

One of the most interesting applications I am working on is looking for molecules, and ultimately life, on exoplanets. Other aspects of my research:
- identify and characterise molecules in MRI machines (nuclear magnetic resonance imaging)
- enable physicists to make molecules that are very very cold
- enumerate illegal drug analogue molecules

In January 2018, I moved to Sydney Australia to take up a lectureship in the School of Chemistry at the University of New South Wales.

I am building my own research group that will focus on new and innovative method development linked with interesting applications in a variety of different fields, with fundamental chemistry and physics a particular interest. One characteristic of my scientific research is to look at new ways of investigating and solving particular problems that are inspired by an unusual perspective, such as from the lens of a different field.


  • 2018–present
    Lecturer, University of New South Wales
  • 2014–2017
    Research fellow, University College London


  • 2015 
    Australian National University, PhD

Professional Memberships

  • Royal Australian Chemical Institute

Research Areas

  • Theoretical And Computational Chemistry (0307)
  • Atomic And Molecular Physics (020201)
  • Stellar Astronomy And Planetary Systems (020110)
  • Quantum Chemistry (030701)