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Personal profile

Research interests

My research centres around optical microscopy, designing new instruments and highly automated experiments.  A central aspect of this work is designing instruments in a way that is easy and cost-effective for fellow scientists and engineers around the globe to replicate, using techniques including 3D printing and sharing the designs as Open Source Hardware (see the GOSH manifesto). The OpenFlexure Microscope is an example of this approach, and forms the basis of several projects in the Open Instrumentation Group, part of the Centre for Photonics and Photonic Materials.

The major research challenge here is how to achieve repeatable, precise positioning using roughly manufactured plastic parts. This work has a great deal of immediate application, and I am working with partners in Tanzania to enable local production of microscopes, which can be used for education, medical diagnostics, and scientific research. This work is done in collaboration with a not-for-profit spin out company, WaterScope, which I co-founded.  Our current research directions are improving the way functional parts can be 3D printed, and on optimising the microscope for use in malaria diagnostics, and high-throughput in vitro studies of the Plasmodium parasites that cause malaria.

In the past, I have developed and automated instruments including optical tweezers, micromanipulators, and microspectroscopy systems to investigate problems ranging from nematode worm physiology to nanostructure self-assembly. Collaboration with scientists from other disciplines is key to instrumentation research, and I am always interested to hear from potential collaborators within and beyond the University of Bath with new microscopy challenges.  As the vast majority of the group's work is shared immediately on open developement platforms such as Github, you are very welcome to experiment with, improve, and contribute to the projects there, and there is no need to seek permission beforehand.  We are always excited to hear from people who are using, or thinking of using, our projects so please do get in touch, either through Github or with my details above.

Hardware/software support

Please note that, in the interests of building an open community, if you ask for support on an open project by email, I will usually ask you to raise an issue on the relevant project repository.  This ensures that questions and answers benefit everyone, avoids duplication, and most importantly builds a community around the project.  I promise you are at least as likely to get a quick response to an issue thread as you are to an email!


Willing to supervise doctoral students

I would welcome interested potential PhD students with an interest in optics, instrumentation, and lab automation - particularly if you are interested in learning and applying these techniques to a novel problem in the physical or life sciences.  I will have one funded place to start in October 2019 for a UK or EU student, but am also very interested to hear from international students who have identified competitive sources of funding for which we might apply together.  Currently, my lab hosts a range of projects, from 3D printed optomechanics to cutting-edge hyperspectral microscopy and beam forming with SLMs.  Currently the biggest project in the lab is in collaboration with the University of Cambridge and a maker space in Tanzania, so there is an opportunity for international travel and a PhD project that really makes a difference.

NB if you intend to apply for a scholarship, please bear in mind that you will most likely need to start the process in late 2018 as there are University deadlines in addition to those of your funder.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy


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