Distinguished Cornelia Denz

Minorities and Women in OSA

Meet this female fellow

Cornelia Denz

Institute for Applied Physics and Center for Nonlinear Science
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität
Münster, Germany

OSA Member since: 2002
OSA Fellow since: 2008

Professional/personal highlights:

I started my physics career at Darmstadt University of Technology, Germany, where I received my Master in Science in 1988, and my PhD in 1992. In between, from 1990-1991, I was a researcher at the Institute d’Optique Théorique et Appliquée in Orsay close to Paris, France.

The first fruits from my work resulted in the Lise Meitner-Award for my achievement in creating concepts of optical neural networks using nonlinear optics in 1992.

At this time, in 1990 and 1992, my two sons were born.

Up to 2001, I was a young researcher at Darmstadt University of Technology working in holographic data storage and novel microscopy functions. I received the Adolf-Messer-Award for the creation of nonlinear dynamic phase contrast microscopy in 1999.

Since 2001, I am a professor for applied physics and nonlinear photonics at Münster University, Germany, leading a group of about 25. In 2004, I became the head of the Institute of Applied Physics and (in 2007) the speaker of the Center for Nonlinear Science.

I have published more than 120 publications, written two books and edited many more. Actually, my main research interests are on the application of nonlinear optics and photonics in information technology and life sciences. Other interests include optical solitons and vortices, nonlinear photonic lattices and novel organic photonic materials.

I’ve always felt responsible to actively contribute and participate in professional communities. Therefore, I am a member of OSA and a Fellow since 2008. I am also a Fellow of the European Optical Society (EOS). I am a board member of the DGaO, the German branch of the European Optical Society, a board and advisory board member of the EOS, and member of the IUPAP Commission C17 on Quantum Electronics. I am also a member of the Editorial Board of Optics Communications and of the Journal of the European Optical Society.

What is your advice for balancing one's professional and personal life?

Family and professional life make you feel complete, so both are important. Try to give them both the same enthusiasm and commitment, even when your professional life is sometimes quite demanding.

Do you have suggestions for how female scientists support each other's career and development?

Build networks and try to find mentors that really are interested in your career and honestly support you. In the company of others with the same challenges and goals, it is much easier to develop a career.

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