Faces in Photonics: Natalie Gibson, Meta Reality Labs

Nov. 22, 2022
Meet Natalie Gibson, a research scientist at Meta Reality Labs.

The Faces in Photonics series shines a light on scientists, researchers, and educators from all over the world whose work is reshaping the optics and photonics industry. This month, we are spotlighting Natalie Gibson, a research scientist at Meta Reality Labs (also see video).

Laser Focus World: What is the most surprising aspect of your work?

Natalie Gibson: The most surprising aspect for me is how quickly change can occur in the tech industry. My only other experience to compare to is purely academic where change, be it student and researcher turnover or the evolution of projects, is all very slow in comparison. Now in my work, what I am focusing and working on changes by the month and even by the day. So I would say the pace of change has definitely been the biggest surprise for me.

LFW: What do you love most about what you do?

NG: I love the people that I get to work with. If you had asked me this question 5 years ago, I would have said aligning my regen amplifier from scratch! Feeling like a laser whisperer was what I used to love most, and I do sometimes miss it. But now what I love most is the crazy smart, energetic, and respectful group of people that I have the pleasure to work with and learn from.

LFW: What do you wish more people understood about optics and photonics?

NG: The science of light plays such a critical role in our daily lives! When someone asks what I do and I say something like “I work in optics” or “I’m an optical scientist,” the most common response is “What is optics?” Often what comes to mind is our eyes and human vision, since people know that an optometrist is an eye doctor, but they don’t realize how their day-to-day lives are profoundly affected by the behavior and control of light. The classic example is of course our optical fiber networks, this invisible force that carries almost all our communications! Then there are the lasers, sensing, integrated optics, and so many other technologies that are all around us in our modern lives.

LFW: If you could change one thing, what would it be?

NG: I think empathy is always something we can use more of, so I would make people more empathetic.

LFW: Any technologies you wish would evolve/emerge faster?

NG: Batteries are a technology that comes to mind. Batteries that last longer, charge faster, and can be mined ethicallythis could be a real game-changer for cutting carbon emissions.

About the Author

Peter Fretty | Market Leader/Group Editorial Director, Laser & Military

Peter Fretty began his role as the Market Leader, Laser & Military in June 2023; the group encompasses the Laser Focus World, Military & Aerospace Electronics, and Vision Systems Design brands. He also serves as Group Editorial Director, Laser & Military (effective spring 2023) and served as Editor in Chief of Laser Focus World since October 2021. Prior to that, he was Technology Editor for IndustryWeek for two years.

As a highly experienced journalist, he has regularly covered advances in manufacturing, information technology, and software. He has written thousands of feature articles, cover stories, and white papers for an assortment of trade journals, business publications, and consumer magazines.

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