Naomi S. Ginsberg is an Associate Professor of Chemistry and Physics at University of California, Berkeley and a Faculty Scientist in the Materials Sciences and Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Imaging Divisions at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where she has been since 2010. She currently focuses on elucidating the electronic and molecular dynamics in a wide variety of soft electronic and biological materials by devising new electron and optical imaging modalities that enable characterization of fast and ultrafast processes at the nanoscale and as a function of their heterogeneities. A native of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Naomi received a B.A.Sc. degree in Engineering Science from the University of Toronto in 2000 and a Ph.D. in Physics from Harvard University in 2007, after which she held a Glenn T. Seaborg Postdoctoral Fellowship at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. Her background in chemistry, physics, and engineering has previously led her to observe initiating events of photosynthesis that take place in a millionth billionth of a second and to slow, stop, and store light pulses in some of the coldest atom clouds on Earth. She is a member of the Kavli Energy Nanoscience Institute at Berkeley and the recipient of a David and Lucile Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering (2011), a DARPA Young Faculty Award (2012), an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship (2015), and a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (2016) in addition to a series of teaching awards in the physical sciences. This academic year she is also a Miller Professor for Basic Science at UC Berkeley.
Conventional electron and optical microscopes are used as characterization tools in myriad applications, ranging from semiconductor device manufacturing to medical diagnostics. The sheer ability to visualize the structure of materials, devices, or biological tissue that elude the naked eye has underpinned countless discoveries and has changed the course of many technologies and treatments. Although there are many different possible ways for light or electron beams to interact with a sample in order to reveal a high-resolution map of its topography, density, luminescence, or other spatially heterogeneous attributes, the majority of common imaging approaches pose constraints on which type of sample can be imaged based on its robustness, ability to be stained or labeled, or time scale over which it must remain static to be photographed. To circumvent such constraints, my current research focuses on developing new ways to image dynamic processes in materials that have often been neglected by traditional microscopes. I will describe examples ranging from explaining the function of active layers in next generation flexible electronics and photovoltaics to elucidating how stimuli change the organization of molecules in the lipid membranes of our cells. My philosophy for making microscopes always involves tailoring a technological solution to the question that we aim to answer by looking all the way back to the basic quantum mechanics of light-matter interactions. I will emphasize how there is always a surprising amount of science involved in the engineering and a commensurate amount of engineering required to reveal the new science.