Ruth M. Woodward
Director, HT Consultants Ltd.,
Country of origin: United Kingdom
My grandmother died of breast cancer at an early age, thus I have always had an interest in combining physics to medicine, specifically in the investigation of cancer. Marie Curie, who dedicated her life in the exploration of optical techniques still used in the medical industry today, was one of the prime role models for me. Whilst an undergraduate at Imperial College of Science and Technology, London, through their teaching and inspirations approach to science and technology, my supervisors encouraged me to do a PhD in semiconductor science.
When I was finishing my MSc at Imperial College in 1999 there was the opportunity to explore the new fiels of THz technology for medical applications in a PhD at the University of Campbridge. At the time, the application of terahertz technology to the medical sector was unknown and so I asked to investigate its use for the imaging of cancer, initially focusing on skin cnacer. I was able to idnetify a terahertz contrast between diseased and normal tissue in a study of basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer. Other areas I investigated were its spectral uses for glucose monitoring, which led to the exploration of its use int the pharmaceutical sector.
During the course of my PhD I noticed the hurdles others like me faced in scientific research and development. On completing my PhD I founded HT Consultants Ltd, which focuses on harnessing tomorrow's technology - facilitating small and large businesses and organisations to harness their potential. This was influenced by my experiences during my PhD. The company ethos is to support and facilitate the development of viable emerging technologies, whilst aiming to encourage and inspire the innovators.
In my career I enjoy most of all seeing people being inspired in science and technology through the work that I or others in my field do. It's wonderful to see others being spurred on by young people and see a new lease of ideas and possibilities emerge. Optics is an extraordinarily diverse field to be in and I really enjoy being a part of it.