Anna Chiara DeLuca

Anna Chiara DeLuca - 2019 SPIE Women in Optics Planner

Junior Group Leader, Institute of Protein Biochemistry
National Research Council of Italy (CNR), Italy

Anna Chiara DeLuca

Country of Birth: Italy
Country of Residence: Italy
Educational Background: Physics


As a child I wanted to understand how things work. In high school, I fell in love with physics. My father, a civil engineer, and my high school mathematics and physics teacher inspired me. I studied physics and I got a PhD in novel technologies for materials, sensors and imaging. As a physicist, I enjoy the possibility of applying my knowledge to the field of optics and laser technology in the diagnostic and medical field.

I am a research scientist in biophotonics leading a group that develops novel microscopy/spectroscopy tools for early and objective cancer diagnosis. Our aim is to image living cells and understand their molecular changes in pathological conditions using light. I mentor students, recruit members, develop research ideas, analyze data and discuss results, exchange ideas with people all over the world, and write papers and grant proposals to support our research. I also teach undergraduate and graduate courses, and conduct outreach activities to promote photonics to younger students.

Starting my own research lab while being a mother of two children was difficult. I am first a scientist, but I am also a woman. I took three months leave after each child was born, working from home, writing several papers and submitting grant proposals, and spending one day a week in the lab. I am happy pursuing my goals, and I believe that a happy mother is a good mother. Having an organized schedule, sharing family responsibility with my husband, loving what I am doing, and being tenacious make all this possible.

To realize your dreams, leave open every door and be curious. Never be afraid of learning a new area or unusual research topics. Do not be surprised if you end up using your background and expertise in a completely unexpected field.

It is time for women to live to our full potential, and to let go of old, tired baggage that drags us into the past. Remember that research is not only scientific method. Hard work, imagination, determination, and passion are essential to succeed. If you wish, you can have a future in optics!

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