Ann Roberts - 2014 SPIE Women in Optics Planner
Associate Professor and Deputy Head of School, School of Physics, The University of Melbourne, Australia
Country of Birth: Australia
Educational Background: PhD, BSc (Honors), Physics, University of Sydney, Australia
My parents always supported my interest in science. I remember going out to study wedge-tailed shearwaters as a child with my father who, in addition to being a high school mathematics teacher, has a keen interest in the natural world, particularly birds. My high school mathematics and science teachers were fantastic, and I also had excellent support from my brilliant PhD advisor.
I am a physicist working at a university in Australia. I teach undergraduate and graduate-level physics and also do research in optical science. My particular research interests involve looking at the interaction between light and nanoscale particles and developing new optical imaging techniques. This work will have implications for creating novel devices and methods for use in telecommunications, medicine and biotechnology. I also collaborate with art conservators helping them develop new non-destructive methods for examining artworks. I am also President of the Australian Optical Society - an organization dedicated to promoting optics in Australia.
My biggest ongoing challenge is balancing my professional and personal lives. With two teenage children and a partner who also works full-time, life is very hectic. I try to find time to switch off from workplace concerns and focus on the family. I cannot say that I have found a solution, but life is never dull!
I would encourage young women to follow their interests and not be afraid to take risks. STEM can lead to surprising careers that will evolve over their working life. Being part of that will be very rewarding.