Naomi Ginsberg

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Naomi Shauna Ginsberg (born 1979 Halifax, Nova Scotia), earned her B.A.Sc. in engineering at the University of Toronto in 2000, and completed her PhD in Physics at Harvard. She is currently an Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. Her initial interest was biomedicine, but she graduated with an electrical engineering focus, and an emphasis on physics and optics. Accepted into Harvard, and whilst in the research group of physics professor Lene Hau, Ginsberg studied Bose–Einstein condensates, ultracold clouds of atoms that exist at temperatures just a few billionths of a degree above absolute zero. In a well documented series of experiments the Hau Group halted and stored a light signal in a condensate of sodium atoms, then transferred the signal into a second sodium cloud 160 µm away. The American Institute of Physics listed this feat as #1 in its Top Ten discoveries of 2007.[1] Ginsberg was the lead author on the paper "Coherent control of optical information with matter wave dynamics", that appeared on the cover of Nature [2] in February of that year. "Some researchers work for many years to get their first article on the cover of Nature. Ginsberg achieved that honor as a graduate student". [3]

Despite this early success in physics, after being awarded her Ph D for her thesis entitled "Manipulations with spatially compressed slow light pulses in Bose–Einstein condensates" with Lene Hau as her thesis advisor,[4] Ginsberg chose to change direction and include other interests, moving to Berkeley to begin her postdoctoral research in 2007 with Graham Fleming as her advisor. She held a Glenn T. Seaborg Postdoctoral Fellowship at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, until her appointment as Assistant Professor in the Chemistry department at UC Berkeley in 2010. Her research attracted support from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency DARPA in the form of a Young Faculty Award for her work in "Predictive Materials Science; "Beneath the Bulk: Domain-Specific Efficiency and Degradation in Organic Photovoltaic Thin Films""[5] In addition, she was the recipient of a David and Lucile Packard Foundation Fellowship in Science and Engineering in 2011.

She now leads the Ginsberg Group, whose research objective is "to spatially resolve the complex dynamics of nanoscale processes such as photosynthetic light harvesting."[6] Her current work is centered around "pushing the limits of spatially resolved spectroscopy and time resolved microscopy in multiple modalities", in order to try and answer fundamental and challenging questions that span chemistry, physics, and biology, such as:

  • What gives rise to the remarkable efficiency of photosynthetic light harvesting? How can energy flow be manipulated? How can this guide solar energy technologies?
  • How can we leverage the nanometer focusing ability of electron optics in optical microscopy of living specimens?
  • What do the electric fields of optically excited molecules look like at close range? How does this influence their interactions?

To research the answers to such questions, Ginsberg's group uses multiple approaches, separately and in combination, including ultrafast spectroscopy, light microscopy, and cathodoluminescence electron microscopy.[7] It is Ginsberg's contention that a more profound understanding is critical to "unlocking nature's strategies for successful light harvesting", and that "by observing dynamics in both naturally occurring and 'man-made' light harvesters, we will be poised to compare and contrast them and to mitigate their weaknesses."[8]

Ginsberg currently holds The Cupola Era Endowed Chair in the College of Chemistry, and is a Faculty Scientist in the Physical Biosciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.



  • G. S. Schlau-Cohen, A. Ishizaki, T. R. Calhoun, N. S. Ginsberg, M. Ballottari, R. Bassi, and G. R. Fleming. "Elucidation of the timescales and origins of quantum electronic coherence in LHCII", Nature Chemistry, 4, 389 (2012).
  • N. S. Ginsberg, J. D. Davis, M. Ballottari, Y.-C. Cheng, R. Bassi, and G. R. Fleming. "Solving structure in the CP29 light harvesting complex with polarization-phased 2D electronic spectroscopy", Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 108, 3848-3853 (2011).
  • G. S. Schlau-Cohen, T. R. Calhoun, N. S. Ginsberg, M. Ballottari, R. Bassi, G. R. Fleming. "Spectroscopic Elucidation of Uncoupled Transition Energies in the Major Photosynthetic Light Harvesting Complex, LHCII", Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 107, 13276 (2010).
  • T. R. Calhoun, N. S. Ginsberg, G. S. Schlau-Cohen, Y-C. Cheng, M. Ballottari, R. Bassi, and G. R. Fleming. "Quantum Coherence Enabled Determination of the Energy Landscape in Light Harvesting Complex II", Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 113, 16291 (2009). (cover article)
  • G. S. Schlau-Cohen, T. R. Calhoun, N. S. Ginsberg, E. L. Read, M. Ballottari, R. Bassi, G. R. Fleming. "Mapping Pathways of Energy Flow in LHCII with Two-Dimensional Electronic Spectroscopy", Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 113, 15352 (2009).
  • N. S. Ginsberg, Y.-C. Cheng, and G. R. Fleming. "Two-dimensional electronic spectroscopy of molecular aggregates", Accounts of Chemical Research 42, 1352 (2009).
  • N. S. Ginsberg, S. R. Garner, L. V. Hau. "Coherent control of optical information with matter wave dynamics", Nature 445, 623 (2007). - cover article; featured in New York Times, National Public Radio, Nature video stream and podcast
  • C. Slowe, N. S. Ginsberg, T. Ristroph, A. Goodsell, L. V. Hau. "Ultraslow Light & Bose–Einstein Condensates: Two-way Control with Coherent Light & Atom Fields", Optics & Photonics News 16, 30 (2005).
  • N. S. Ginsberg, J. Brand, L. V. Hau. "Observation of Hybrid Soliton Vortex-Ring Structures in Bose–Einstein Condensates", Physical Review Letters 94, 040403 (2005) - highlighted in American Institute of Physics’ Physics News Update, Physics Today's Physics Update, and selected as one of 44 articles from 2005 to be highlighted in APS News, February 2006
  • Z. Dutton, N. S. Ginsberg, C. Slowe, L. V. Hau. "The Art of Taming Light: Ultra-slow and Stopped Light", Europhysics News 35, 33 (2004).
  • D. I. Hoult, N. S. Ginsberg. "The Quantum Origins of the Free Induction Decay Signal and Spin Noise", Journal of Magnetic Resonance 148, 182 (2001).


  1. ^ "Ten Top Physics Stories for 2007 - Physics News Update 850". 2007-12-13. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  2. ^ "Coherent control of optical information with matter wave dynamics : Abstract". Nature. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  3. ^ "UC Berkeley, College of Chemistry - News and Publications - Chemistry welcomes Naomi Ginsberg: Bringing photosynthesis to light". 2011-01-18. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  4. ^ "Harvard Physics Department - PhD Theses: 2000 to present". 2012-09-26. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  5. ^ "2012 Young Faculty Award Recipients". Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  6. ^ "Research - Ginsberg Group". UC Berkeley. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  7. ^ Interdisciplinary
  8. ^ "UC Berkeley, Dept of Chemistry - Naomi Ginsberg". Retrieved 2013-01-26.