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Prior to joining the Harvard faculty in 1999, she was a senior scientist at the Rowland Institute for Science in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and holds a Ph.D. in Physics from University of Aarhus, Denmark. Hau led a team who succeeded in slowing a pulse of light to 24 km/h and also brought light to a stop. They took matters even further as they stopped and extinguished a light pulse in one part of space, and subsequently revived it in a different location. In the process, the light pulse is converted to a perfect matter copy that can be stored - put on the shelf - sculpted, and then turned back to light. These results represent a new paradigm for quantum information processing.

Hau has contributed to a wide variety of research fields. Her Ph.D. work was in theoretical condensed matter physics and she later shifted her attention to experimental and theoretical optical and atomic physics. Her research has included studies of ultra-cold atoms and superfluid Bose-Einstein condensates, as well as channelling of high-energy electrons and positrons in single crystals with experiments at CERN and Brookhaven National Laboratory. She is a 2001 MacArthur Fellow, and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters.

She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Physical Society, and is the recipient of numerous awards, including Harvard University’s Ledlie Prize, the Ole Roemer Medal, awarded by the University of Copenhagen, and the Richtmyer Memorial Lecture Award. In 2010, she was named “World Dane” and, in 2011, Distinguished Alumna of Aarhus University. In 2018, she was honoured with The Lise Meitner Distinguished Lecture and Medal, sponsored by The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences through its Nobel Committee for Physics. Prof. Hau’s research is described on RadioLab’s “Master of the Universe.”

Mandate ERC Scientific Council: 01 Jan 2019 - 31 Dec 2020 (1st term)