Katharine Challis



Katharine is a physicist specialising in using advanced theoretical and computational methods to explain and predict the behaviour and dynamics of physical systems. She is currently interested in energy processes that occur at the nanoscale and has a Marsden Fast-Start grant to work on the physics of how cells use energy.


  • 2006 PhD Theoretical Physics, University of Otago, Dunedin
  • 2002 BSc (First Class Honours) Physics, University of Otago, Dunedin 

Research capabilities

  • Statistical physics and non-equilibrium thermodynamics
  • Quantum-condensed matter physics
  • Advanced mathematical and computational methods

Career highlights

  • 2017 Scion CEO Award
  • 2014 Fast-Start Applicant and Principal Investigator on ‘Efficient energy processing at the nanoscale – the physics of how cells use energy’ funded by the Marsden Fund from Government funding, managed by Royal Society Te Apārangi 
  • 2002 Bright Future Top Achiever Doctoral Scholarship awarded by the New Zealand Tertiary Education Commission

Selected papers

K. J. Challis, Tight-binding derivation of a discrete-continuous description of mechanochemical coupling in a molecular motor. Physical Review E 97, 062158 (2018).

N. J. Lopez-Alamilla, M. W. Jack, and K. J. Challis, Reconstructing free-energy landscapes for nonequilibrium periodic potentials. Physical Review E 97, 032419 (2018).

P. T. T. Nguyen, K. J. Challis, and M. W. Jack, Local discretization method for overdamped Brownian motion on a potential with multiple deep wells. Physical Review E 94, 052127 (2016).

Molecular motors drive energy technologies. Scion Connections 10 (2013)

Katharine’s publication list can be found at Google Scholar.