Cather’s endlessly-fascinating lasers at the Photon Lab were once thought to be rather useless, possibly indulgent pieces of academic kit. A few years on those lasers (and clever researchers) have given rise to two award-winning companies: Engender Technologies (a sex-sorting business to accelerate genetic gain and cost efficiencies in large animal reproduction) and Orbis Diagnostics (providing revolutionary in-line milking measurement for the dairy industry, using microfluidics technology for protein, fat, somatic cell and progesterone).
Professor Cather Simpson joined the University of Auckland’s Physics and Chemistry departments in 2007. Her research focuses on the interaction of light with matter, particularly how materials can convert light into more useful forms of energy. Cather is a Principal Investigator in the MacDiarmid Institute and the Dodd-Walls Centre and was Chair of the New Zealand National Committee for the UNESCO 2015 International Year of Light with a long stretching list of science, teaching and entrepreneurial excellence awards. She is the founding Chief Science Officer of Engender Technologies and Orbis Diagnostics, both international award-winning spin-offs from the Photon Factory at the University of Auckland.