Professor Cather Simpson

Professor Cather Simpson

MacDiarmid Institute Principal Investigator and Professor at University of Auckland.

Tell us a fact no one knows about you
I was the only girl alongside 299 boys in the under-15 baseball league and I played second
base for the championship team

Anything else?
My entire scientific career is based on a bet over a pitcher of beer. (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.)

Early mishaps in the lab
When I was a student I set a stir-plate on fire in a synthetic chemistry lab.
I also burned an entire laser to melted solder, and all the solder dripped out of the screw
holes in the bottom, into puddles on the table.

How did you end up developing an award-winning start-up company?
A chance conversation with an investor from the dairy industry. Back in 2010, at a business
function, an investor outlined to me the problems facing the dairy industry. I headed
straight back to the lab and challenged students to come up with solutions within 24 hours.
One of the students’ ideas involved using lasers to generate a force, a concept that became
key to the technology behind the start-up company.

What is one of your key goals?
I want to help our young scientists to spin-out their own companies—-create their own jobs
so they can leave the university. One of our most important products is our
students—–giving them a path into business.


More about women in science:

MacDiarmid female nanoscientists on tour

Dr Carla Meledandri’s story