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Dr Alexandra Olaya-Castro
  • Reader in Physics
  • Dept of Physics & Astronomy
  • Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

I was born and grew up in Bogotá, the capital of Colombia. I did my undergraduate in Physics Education at Universidad Distrital Francisco Jose de Caldas and then spent several years working for ICFES, developing physics tests for large-scale assessment of education in Colombia. I combined my work in education assessment with my master studies at Universidad de Los Andes, where I did MSc thesis with Prof. Luis Quiroga. During this time, I also worked with Prof. Carlos Tejedor at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain) and Prof. Pawel Hawrylak at the Institute for Microstructural Sciences in Ottawa, Canada. I then moved to the University of Oxford (Somerville College) in October 2002 to do my D Phil (Ph D) with Prof. Neil Johnson, funded by a Clarendon Fund Scholarship, an Overseas Research Student award, and a Somerville Senior Scholarship. During my doctoral studies I spent a few months working in Prof. Hideo Mabuchi's group at California Institute of Technology. I finished my doctorate in 2005 and right after this obtained a Junior Research Fellowship at Trinity College, Oxford University. In November 2008 I was awarded an EPSRC Career Acceleration Fellowship that allowed me to start my independent research career at University College London. I was appointed as a permanent Lecturer in September 2011. Throughout my career I have made scientific contributions to the understanding of signatures and implications of quantum coherence in a variety of quantum systems that include exciton condensates in quantum wells, multi-qubit systems embedded in optical cavities and, more recently, photo-activated biomolecular systems. 

Research Summary

My current research lies in the interdisciplinary and emerging field of quantum effects in biomolecules. I am interested in putting forward novel theoretical approaches that aim to bring together the perspective of quantum science, with quantum coherence as a resource, and the physical chemistry perspective, with emphasis on spectroscopy, to provide unambiguous evidence of non-classical features influencing the performance of prototype biomolecular systems.

Teaching Summary

Academic Background
2005 DPhil Doctor of Philosophy – Physics University of Oxford
2002 MSci Master of Natural Science – Physics Universidad de los Andes
1997 BSc Bachelor of Science – Physics Universidad Distrital Francisco Jose de Caldas, Bogota
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