Ana Maria Cetto

Ana Maria Cetto  - 2014 SPIE Women in Optics Planner

Research Professor, Instituto de Física, UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)
Country of Birth: Mexico

Educational Background: PhD Theoretical Physics, MSc Physics, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; MA Biophysics, Harvard University, USA; BSc Physics, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México


Ana Maria Cetto

As a child, I was very curious about the nature of matter: How can it be that materials, as solid as a rock, are made of particles that virtually don't take up any space and are in constant motion? That we are made of the same tiny particles as the distant stars? That their light can reach us after travelling for trillions of years? Now I know the scientific answers to some of these questions, but they still amaze me.

With two colleagues, I am writing an important research monograph on the emergence of quantization as a result of the interaction between matter and the vacuum radiation field. The quantum phenomenon continues to be a puzzle, and we think we have obtained some key answers about the interaction of light and matter at the deepest level. It also gives me pleasure to teach on the subject. Additionally, I am in charge of renewing the Museum on Light, which we inaugurated in the historic center of Mexico City in 1996. This is an ambitious multidisciplinary outreach project, involving high-level specialists and communicators ranging from basic science and modern technology to art and culture. And, I am part of the steering committee doing ground work leading to the adoption by the UN General Assembly of the International Year of Light 2015. If this comes through, we will all be very busy in a variety of activities related with optics and photonics in the coming years!

Remember to follow your curiosity, be bold and don't put aside the difficult questions! If you want to find the deep answers, you must do hard research and continuously nurture your intuition. You will need patience and endurance - but it is also a lot of fun and very rewarding. And, just as you are being supported, try to support others along the way.