Cather Simpson

Partner | Pacific Channel


Cather Simpson


Cather Simpson is a partner at Pacific Channel, a Professor of Physics and Chemical Sciences at the University of Auckland, and acting CEO/CSO of Orbis Diagnostics. She moved to New Zealand in 2007 from the USA, where she was tenured faculty at Case Western Reserve University. At the University of Auckland, she founded and directed the Photon Factory, an outwardly facing laser R&D centre in the Faculty of Science. In 2018 she stepped down as Director to serve 3 years as Chief Science Officer of Engender Technologies, one of the Photon Factory’s startups. As a researcher in Chemical Physics and a founder or co-founder to three high-tech startups, she is keenly interested in the interface between academic research and commercialisation.

Cather is a Fellow of the Royal Society Te Aparangi where she currently sits on the Academy Executive. She is a Director of SPIE (International Society for Optics & Photonics), Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, Advemto, and Orbis Diagnostics. Accolades include a New Zealand National Teaching Award and the Royal Society’s Pickering Medal. She was named the 2022 KiwiNet Commercialisation Icon and in 2023 was awarded the inaugural New Zealand Institute of Physics Te Tohu mo te Whaihua i te Matai Ahupungao —Physics Impact Award. Cather is quoted as saying "I am not built for my dream career, which was to be a professional basketball player," so she's been instead making incomparable contributions to NZ physics and entrepreneurship.


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