Laboratory techniques to manipulate and observe ultracold atoms make these an attractive platform for testing new ideas in quantum control and measurement. Over the last decade we have revisited the tensor interaction between light fields and multilevel atoms, and have developed a theoretical framework suited for applications in quantum control and measurement (see  for a review). One important finding is that the combined action of a light shift and magnetic field on an atomic ground state can be used to implement a non-linear Hamiltonian for a hyperfine spin, and that its action can lead to nonlinear spin dynamics such as wavepacket collapse and revival. Using concepts from classical control theory it is straightforward to show that this Hamiltonian is sufficiently general for full control of an arbitrarily large spin. On this foundation we have developed a new protocol for quantum state reconstruction, based on continuous weak measurement of a spin observable during carefully designed coherent evolution . We have further used our tools for control and state reconstruction to implement and verify protocols for optimal control of Cs hyperfine spins (Fig. 1), showing that an initial fiducial state can be transformed into any desired target state with a fidelity in the 80-90% range .