Past Members and Visitors

Georgina Shillito

Georgina Shillito obtained a PhD in chemistry from the University of Otago, New Zealand in 2019 and specialises in Raman spectroscopy. Her PhD involved investigation of charge transfer states in transition metal complexes, which displayed potential to function as molecular sensors or light-harvesting solar dyes. Her research has involved the use of various vibrational and electronic spectroscopic techniques, as well some computational chemistry methods. As part of the Optical Manipulation group, she was utilising Raman spectroscopy to study a range of samples in complex media. She left the group in January 2022 to take up a postdoctoral position Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany.

Fiona BairstowFiona Bairstow

Fiona Bairstow was a PhD student working on optical coherence tomography in a joint project between the Optical Manipulation group and Prof. Tom Brown. She graduated with a Masters degree in physics from the University of Kent in 2018 where her masters project focused on dispersion measurements by complex master slave interferometry. She left the group in 2021.


Roopam Gupta

Roopam Gupta graduated from Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Kolkata with an integrated BS-MS degree in Physical sciences. During his masters, Roopam worked in experimental condensed matter physics and focussed on studying the “Magneto-optical Kerr effect in correlated optical systems”; more specifically – he studied the effects of magnetic field on bi-layer structures of metallic and topological insulator materials. His PhD focussed on the applications of machine learning for the development of label-free optical hemograms of immune cells by using spectroscopic and imaging modalities and for the development of speckle based wavemeters and spectrometers. He completed his PhD in January 2021.


Paul Hawthorne

Paul Hawthorne obtained his Integrated Master’s degree in physics from the University of St Andrews, and went on to pursue his Engineering Doctorate, where his project is the use of LIDAR in extreme environments. He worked within the Optical Manipulation Group as a visiting student in 2020 on a project in speckle metrology.


XiaoYong DuanXiaoYong Duan

XiaoYong Duan obtained his Diploma in physics from Jinzhong University, MSc in theoretical physics from Guizhou University and PhD in physics from Tongji University. He has been working in School of Mathematics, Physics and Information Engineering, Jiaxing University in China from 2008. His main research area is optical manipulation, and he focuses on the optical binding of multiple nanoparticles with electric and magnetic responses. He joined the group as a visiting scholar from March to October 2020 to explore new ideas in optical binding.


Paloma Rodriguez Sevilla Paloma Rodríguez-Sevilla

Paloma Rodríguez Sevilla obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Physics, a Master in Biophysics and her PhD at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain). She worked in the Fluorescence Imaging Group in which she developed her thesis on optical trapping of upconverting particles, and joined the Optical Manipulation Group as a research fellow to explore new ideas in optical manipulation. She left the group in September 2020 to take up a Juan de la Cierva fellowship at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.


Holly Fleming

Holly graduated from Edinburgh University with an MChem in Medicinal and Biological Chemistry in June 2014 which included a year out in Singapore. There, she worked on synthesising osmium-based carbon monoxide releasing molecules (CO-RMs). Her master’s project involved synthesising novel redox sensitive napthoquinone derivatives for biological sensing. She started her PhD in September 2014 as part of the Centre for Doctoral Training in OPTIMA, which provided a programme of business training in healthcare innovation and entrepreneurship. Her PhD project, in conjunction with the EPSRC PROTEUS project, focussed on developing substrates for surface enhance Raman spectroscopy (SERS) for applications in optical fibre sensing and in 3D cell culture models. She worked in the optical manipulation group from January 2019 to August 2020 on Raman spectroscopy, and moved on to a postdoctoral position at University of Dundee.


Daria Majchrowicz

Daria Majchrowicz obtained her BSc in Biomedical Engineering and MSc in Electronics from the Faculty of Electronics, Telecommunications and Informatics of Gdańsk University of Technology, Poland. She received her PhD degree with honors in Electronics from Gdańsk University of Technology in 2019. She worked in research projects financed by national Polish funds at the Department of Metrology and Optoelectronics at Gdańsk University of Technology. She became the head of the Preludium project financed by Polish National Science Centre. Her main research area is biophotonics, and she focuses on low-coherence optical fiber sensors with nanodiamond structures and applications of optical measurements for measuring physical quantities. She joined the group as a one-year visiting scholar in September 2019.


Federico Gasparoli

Federico Gasparoli obtained his Bachelor Degree in Biotechnology at the University of Milan – Bicocca before moving to Ireland for his Master of Science in Imaging and Microscopy at the University College Dublin (UCD) in the R Lab. He then joined the Systems Biophotonics group at the University of St Andrews for his PhD in “Novel imaging and light-mediated control of (epi-)genetic states in 3D models of disease”, which he completed in 2018. Federico joined the Optical Manipulation Group to develop novel imaging techniques for high-throughput screening in April 2018, and moved to Harvard Medical School as an Advanced Microscopy Fellow in May 2020.


Jonathan Nylk

Jonathan Nylk graduated from the University of St Andrews with a Masters in Physics with Photonics in 2012. He started his PhD in the Optical Manipulation Group in June 2012 with the focus of using structured light to develop advanced optical microscopy techniques for use in the biomedical sciences. In 2016 he completed his PhD and continued to work in the group as a Research Fellow. He left the group to take up a Lectureship at University of Dundee in January 2020.


Adrià Escobet Montalbán

Adrià Escobet Montalbán studied Engineering Physics at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya from 2011 to 2015. He carried out his undergraduate thesis at the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO). He then moved to Imperial College London and obtained a MSc in Optics and Photonics in 2016. Adrià joined the group in October 2016 to pursue a PhD with a main focus on light-sheet fluorescence microscopy. He completed his PhD in January 2020.


Madhu Veettikazhy

Madhu graduated from Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology Thiruvananthapuram with an M. Tech. degree in Optical Engineering, where he investigated the propagation of vortex beams through atmospheric turbulence. He joined Technical University of Denmark (DTU) as a PhD student in February 2018 focusing on two photon light-sheet microscopy through an optical fibre. Madhu visited the Optical Manipulation Group in 2019. The project expands existing collaborations between DTU Fotonik and the University of St Andrews, as well as with the private fibre company OFS.


ivangusachenko Ivan Gusachenko

Ivan Gusachenko joined the group in 2015 as a Research Fellow. His research work mainly focuses on wavefront shaping of light in complex and scattering media such as optical fibres, and its applications to microscopy and optical trapping. Ivan finished his BSc in Novosibirsk State University in Russia, and then pursued his MSc and PhD degree in Ecole Polytechnique, France, where he studied second harmonic generation microscopy in biological tissues. After his PhD, Ivan spent 3 years as a postdoc in Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Japan, where his research was concentrated on optical nanofibres and metal nanoapertures applied to optical trapping. Ivan left the group in December 2018.

francesgoff Frances Goff

Frances Goff is a PhD student in the Biophotonics group. Her main focus is on the protein ‘Willin’ discovered in the brain by Frank Gunn-Moore’s lab and which has been shown to have a role in both cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease. She will be using the SIM microscope to obtain high resolution images of the cellular cytoskeleton interacting with Willin. She has a BSc in Biochemistry from the University of St Andrews. Frances successfully defended her thesis titled “Optical techniques for the investigation of a mechanical role for FRMD6/Willin in the Hippo signalling pathway” in November 2018.


Pengfei Liu

Pengfei Liu is a Joint PhD student in Tianjin University, China and he will work in the Optical Manipulation Group in the School of Physics and Astronomy for the next year. His main focus is on super-resolution methods in optical microscopy. His research focused on advanced light-sheet microscopy systems.



naomimcreynolds Naomi McReynolds

Naomi McReynolds graduated from the University of St. Andrews with a Masters in Physics in 2011. She started her PhD in the Biophotonics group in September 2013 where her project will focus on developing detection applications for smartphones using fluorescence and Raman spectroscopy techniques. Naomi received her doctorate in December 2017 for her thesis titled “Advanced multimodal methods in biomedicine : Raman spectroscopy and digital holographic microscopy”.


Zhengyi Yang

Zhengyi Yang obtained his MEng in engineering in East China University of Science and Technology in 2010. He then moved to University of Dundee for PhD degree in Electrical Engineering and Physics, where he was investigating beam shaping techniques for imaging and manipulation. In February 2014, Zhengyi joined the group as a research fellow working on light sheet microscopy and optical trapping. Zhengyi left the group in October 2017 to take up a position at Diamond Light Source.


Yunlong Wang

Yunlong Wang is a Joint PhD student in Xian Jiaotong University, PR China and he will study in the Optical Manipulation Group in the School of Physics and Astronomy for the next year. His main focus is on super-resolution methods in optical microscopy. His research focused on Raman super-resolution microscopy based on the principle of pixel-reassignment.


Soheil Mojiri

Soheil Mojiri received his MSc degree in Photonics from Institute of Advanced Studies in Basic Sciences (IASBS) in Iran in 2015. His MSc project was focused on the study of circular Airy beams under supervision of Dr D. Abdollahpour. He joined the Electro- optical industry of Isfahan working on producing multi-functional integrated optical circuits based on Lithium niobate substrates. In 2016, he joined the group of Professor J. Enderlein in Georg August University of Gottingen to pursue a PhD on multi-plane 3D Super resolution Optical Fluctuation Imaging (SOFI). Soheil joined the Optical Manipulation Group for several months in summer 2017 to gain experience in beam shaping and light-sheet microscopy.

Georgiy Tkachenko

Georgiy Tkachenko obtained his MSc in Lasers and Optoelectronic Techniques form the Kharkiv  National University of Radioelectronics (Ukraine) in 2007. He carried out his PhD studies at the same university working on tunable optical filters based on porous silicon multilayer films infiltrated with nematic liquid crystals. The degree in Optics and Laser Physics was granted to him in 2012. While working at the University of Bordeaux (France), he has realized a series of quantitative experimental studies on optical radiation forces controlled by the interplay between the chirality of matter and the chirality of optical fields. Georgiy joined the group in September 2014 as a research fellow working on optical trapping and rotation of microscopic particles in viscous environments. Georgiy left the group in May 2017 to take up a position at OIST.

Josep Mas Soler

Josep Mas Soler studied Physics at the University de Barcelona (Catalunya, Spain) where he specialized in Optics and Astronomy (2003-2007), and he later obtained a MSc in Photonics from UPC, UB, UAB, and ICFO (Barcelona, 2008). He joined the Optical Trapping Lab – Grup de Biofotònica at the University of Barcelona for carrying out his PhD studies in the field of holographic optical tweezers and force sensing in living cells, under the supervision of Estela Martín-Badosa and Mario Montes-Usategui. He also spent part of his PhD at the Niels Bohr Institute (Copenhagen) working on optical trap calibration in viscoelastic biological media. Josep joined the group in 2013 as research fellow on biophotonics, and he is working on wavefront shaping for optical imaging. Josep left the group in April 2017.

Kaley McCluskey

Kaley McCluskey received her BSc in Physics from the Georgia Institute of Technology (USA) in 2010 and her MSc in Photonics and Optoelectronic Devices from Heriot-Watt University and St. Andrews in 2011.  In her PhD project in the Single-Molecule Biophysics group at St. Andrews (2011-2015), she studied the folding of gene-regulatory RNA structures using hybrid single-molecule fluorescence and optical trapping techniques.  In 2015 she joined the Optical Manipulation group as a postdoctoral researcher, focusing on advanced light sheet imaging techniques and biological applications. Kaley left the group in April 2017 to take up a position at Delft University of Technology.


susanskelton Susan Skelton

Susan Skelton studied at St Andrews University gaining a MPhys degree in physics in 2008. She moved to University College London to study for a PhD and defended her thesis on Applications of cylindrical vector beams to optical micromanipulation in February 2013.  She then moved to Japan to work as a researcher at Osaka University, until September 2014, where she worked in the field of nanophotonics. Susan returned to St Andrews as a Research Fellow in September 2014 and is working on optical trapping studies in vacuum. Susan left the group in December 2016.


romanspesyvtsevRoman Spesyvtsev

Roman Spesyvtsev joined the group as a Research Fellow in 2014. His primary research work is focused on temporal and spatial light shaping and its application to imaging and microscopy. He obtained his BSc and MSc degrees, in 2005 and 2007, in Applied Physics from Karazin Kharkiv National University (Ukraine). Subsequently, Roman worked at the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (Germany) for two years before joining the Ultrafast Molecular Dynamics group at University College London (UK) where he graduated with a PhD in 2013. After his PhD he continued his research on ultrafast molecular dynamics in the group of Prof Suzuki at Kyoto University (Japan) before coming to St Andrews. Roman left the group in December 2016 to take up a position an University of Strathcylde.

klausmetzger Nikolaus Klaus Metzger

Nikolaus Klaus Metzger received an Engineering degree from the FH Muenchen working on a regenerative fs-amplifier for his thesis. After completing the MSc course in Laser physics at Heriott-Watt University he went on to work in industry for Rofin/Basel Lasertechnik. In 2007 he completed his PhD at St Andrews University looking at the nonlinear dynamics of optically bound matter. As a Postdoctoral Research Fellow within the Ultrashort-Pulse Laser Research Group in St Andrews he was working on versatile solid-state laser systems especially those with software-aided controlled laser cavities. Recently he has been holder of a prestigious European Metrology Research Program – Researcher Excellence Grant, developing high power mode-locked laser sources. Currently he is interested in laser stabilization. Klaus left the group in November 2016.

christosboutopoulosChristos Boutopoulos

Christos Boutopoulos joined the group as Marie Curie Research Fellow in 2016. His research is mainly focused to nanoparticle-assisted laser nanosurgery of living cells. He previously spent 3.5 years in total at Polytechnique Montreal, 2 years in the framework of his MC fellowship and 1.5 years as Postdoctoral Fellow, where he studied interactions of ultrashort laser pulses with plasmonic nanoparticles in liquid, including controlled generation of nanobubbles for cell poration. Christos received a BSc in Applied Physics (2005), a MSc in Microsystems and Nanodevices (2008) and a PhD in Applied Physics (2011) from National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), Greece. His research at NTUA focused on laser printing of functional materials for the development of chemical and biological micro-sensors. He also studied applications of laser-induced dynamic micro-jets, including immobilization of biomaterials and wetting transitions on rough substrates. Christos left the group in August 2016.

fatmazohrabioud Fatma-Zohra Bioud

Fatma-Zohra Bioud obtained her M.Sc.A from the University of Sherbrooke (Canada) in 2010 where she worked on the fabrication and characterization of optical phantoms for optical tomography. She then carried out her PhD at Universite d’Aix-Marseille (France) in collaboration with the European Institute of Nonlinear Spectroscopy-LENS (Italy). She worked on nonlinear microscopy techniques and in particular on polarization resolved four wave mixing to probe molecular order in biological tissues.  She joined the group in September 2014 as a Research Fellow, her research interests are photoporation and advanced microscopy in scattering media. Fatma-Zohra left the group in August 2016.

peeterpiksarv Peeter Piksarv

Peeter Piksarv obtained his BSc and MSc in Physics from the University of Tartu (Estonia). Continiuing his studies in Tartu, he completed his PhD in 2013. His previous works were focused on the spatio-temporal characterization of ultrashort pulses and study of different non-diffracting beams and pulses. He joined the Optical Manipulation Group at St Andrews as a post-doctoral researcher in September 2014 after he was awarded a fellowship from Estonian Research Council to work on developing advanced light sheet microscopy methods. Peeter left the group in August 2016.


miguelpreciado Miguel A. Preciado

Miguel A. Preciado obtained a BSc in Electrical & Electronic Engineering in 2003 from Universidad de Sevilla, and a PhD in the Photonics Technology department of Universidad Politecnica de Madrid in 2010. He has been workind in industry before the PhD (2003-2005, Madrid, SP) in Technology Consulting and after the PhD (2010-2011, Eindhoven, NL) as Design Engineer of photolitography optical wafer alignment modules in ASML.  He joined Aston Institute of Photonic Technology of Aston University under an IEF Marie Curie Fellowship (2011-2013, Birmingham, UK). His research interest has been lately focused in the study, analysis and design of special Airy-based wave-packets with some added unique properties, such as partial attenuation robustness by local self-amplification, or pre-defined peak amplitude modulation in its propagation path. In the past, he has also worked on the design of high-order optical cavities structures for phase-only filtering applications, and the development and fabrication of novel fiber Bragg grating approaches, particularly focused on the transmissive mode of operation,  for optical signal processing and fiber sensing applications. Miguel left the group in September 2015.

markross Mark Ross

Mark Ross is the supervisor of Electronic Services within the School, the main scope of the role is developing Electronic Instrumentation to assist scientific research. Completed a part-time MPhil degree in Physics in 2008 and is now working with the group on a two day a week basis studying for a PHD in stabilisation techniques of particles within a vaccum.


sayantanghosh Sayantan Ghosh

Sayantan Ghosh completed his BSc from Gujarat University in 2007 majoring in Physics, and worked as a research intern for a few years after that at various institutes in India. He obtained his MSc with a cum laude in Physics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa in Feb, 2012. He recently worked at the bioNaP group at IISER-Kolkata before joining the Manipulation group at St Andrews. His research interests are: optical trapping, nano & bio photonics, time-series analysis & complex networks and open quantum systems.


helenrendallHelen Rendall

Helen Rendall graduated from the University of St Andrews with a Masters in Physics with Photonics in 2010. She began her PhD in the Optical Trapping group in October 2010 where her project will look at the manipulation and interrogation of microdroplets using light. Helen recieved her doctorate on “Applications of Microfluidics and Optical Manipulation for Photoporation and Imaging” in June 2015.


clairemitchellClaire Mitchell

Claire Mitchell graduated from the University of Leeds with an integrated Masters in Physics with Astrophysics.  She started her PhD with the Biophotonics group at the University of St Andrews in September 2010. Her project focusses on the photoporation of plant cells and is jointly funded by the Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI) in Dundee. Claire recieved her doctorate on “Photoporation and Optical Manipulation of Plant and Mamalian Cells” in June 2015.


derekcraigDerek Craig

Derek Craig obtained his MSci in Pure and Applied Chemistry at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow in 2009. Following this he then carried out his PhD studies at the Centre for Molecular Nanometrology at the University of Strathclyde. This PhD research was highly multidisciplinary and focused on the design and development of SERS active biofunctionalised nanomaterials to probe biological interactions both in solution and at the cellular interface. In August 2013 Derek joined the group as a post-doctoral research fellow working across the fields of optical trapping and Raman/SERS spectroscopy. Derek left the group in June 2015.


alisonmcdonaldAlison McDonald

Alison McDonald obtained a BSc in Laser Physics and Optoelectronics from the University of Strathclyde in 2009.  She then carried out her PhD studies at the Centre for Biophotonics (University of Strathclyde) where she was developing measurement techniques for use in widefield and laser scanning microscopy applications. In October 2012 Alison joined the group as a post-doctoral research fellow working in the field of photoporation. Alison left the group in June 2015.


juanaunongarciaJuan Aunon-Garcia

Juan Aunon-Garcia obtained his BSc in Physics in 2010 from Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain) and he later obtained a MSc in Applied Physics from UCM. Following this he then carried out his PhD studies at the Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Madrid (ICMM-CSIC) in the Theory and Simulations department. The main topics of his research were optical forces, statistical optics and scattering of small particles. Juan joined the group in September 2014 as post-doctoral research, where he is working in optical trapping and Raman spectroscopy. Juan left the group in March 2015.


igorandreyevIgor Andreyev

Igor Andreyev obtained his MSc in physics and PhD in physical and mathematical sciences at the Moscow State University. He started his career working on laser design and development in the Special Design Bureau of Estonian Academy of Science, then worked in R&D in semiconductor industry. Igor also followed the postgraduate Master program in laser techniques and technologies and in biotechnology. His recent research in academia were focused at the interdisciplinary interface of physics and biology and included application of atomic force microscopy and spectroscopy for imaging and characterization biological objects at the nanoscale, application of particular biophotonics techniques for optical cell sorting. Last few years Igor worked in R&D in biotech industry in the biophysical company Avacta which started as a Leeds University spin-out and specialise in development of innovative instrumentation platforms and consumables for biopharmaceutical industry and point of care healthcare. His particular interests were micro and optofluidics, bioMEMS, advanced microsystem technologies, dielectrophoresis and biophotonics. Igor joined the Biophotonics group in March 2013 working on novel photonics methods and on biophotonics techniques for biomedical diagnostics and its translation to medicine. Igor left the group in January 2015 to pursue further opportunities.


martinkristensenMartin Verner Gammelgaard Kristensen

Martin Verner Gammelgaard Kristensen received his MSc in Nanoscience in 2010 from Aarhus University, Denmark. He then continued his work in Aarhus where he obtained his PhD in 2013. The main topics of his research were optical trapping, image analysis and biophotonics. Martin joined the group in July 2013 as a post-doctoral research fellow, where he worked in the fields of photoporation and optical trapping. Martin has now joined the group of fellow collaborator Tomas Cizmar at the University of Dundee.


shihongjiang Shihong Jiang

Shihong Jiang is a Research Fellow working on the use of disorder for spectroscopy and microscopy. He worked in the Optics Group of the Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering at the University of Nottingham for a number of years, first working towards his PhD between 2001 and 2005, then as a research fellow between 2007 and 2009. He undertook research in the Biomedical Optics Research Laboratory of the Department of Medical Physics and Bioengineering at UCL from 2010 to 2013. He also has past experiences at Queen Mary, King’s College London and Shanghai University. His research interests are in confocal microscopy, optical superresolution, acousto-optic sensing, speckle techniques.


tomvettenburg Tom Vettenburg

Tom Vettenburg  received a master degree in computing science engineering in 2002, and the masters in artificial intelligence degree in 2003, from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium. Since graduation and until early 2008 he has been working in industry. In 2011 he completed his PhD at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK under supervision of Professor A.R. Harvey. Tom worked as a post doctoral researcher within our group until 2014. He secured a Marie Curie Fellowship award which sees him take up a new position in Madrid in Autumn 2014.