Current students of the University of Auckland Biophotonics Group 


Claire Honney

Although I have many varying interests I have always been deeply interested in science. After completing a BSc in Biomedical Science my focus was fixed firmly on microbiology and the need to understand these organisms that influence our lives in so many ways, both good and bad.


After receiving as Masters Degree in Biomedical Science in 2014 with Dr Simon Swift testing biocidal surfaces, I was looking for the next step in my pursuit of understanding the complicated interactions of the microorganisms that we share our world with. I went back to Dr Swift and he presented me with the wonderful opportunity to return to UoA to do a PhD working in conjunction with Dr Frederique Vanholsbeeck and the Food Safe project.


This project aims to develop a quicker, cheaper, and more sensitive method to identify and quantify the microbial populations that may cause spoilage or disease in food products using fluorescence. I look forward to discovering better ways to prevent communicable disease by studying the fluorescent properties of microbial populations and expanding my knowledge to better develop detection methods of potentially harmful organisms."

Fang Ou (Rachel)

Rachel completed her BTech (Honours) majoring in Medical Physics and Imaging Technology in 2015.   She won a Senior Scholar Award from the University of Auckland for achieving the highest overall grades in this degree. Through her undergraduate studies, she developed an interest in biomedical imaging and the application of optics. 


Rachel has since won a University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship supporting her PhD aligned with the FoodSafe programme.     


Her project involves the detection of live and dead bacteria using fibre optic fluorescence spectroscopy and monitoring the efficacy of bactericidal methods under the supervision of Dr Frédérique Vanholsbeeck.


In her spare time Rachel enjoys exploring the outdoors and sharing laughs with friends.

James Hope

I graduated with a BEng from the University of Auckland 2007, and then spent 6 years in the UK working mainly for Physik Instrumente Ltd, a company specialising in precision motion control hardware and piezoceramic technology. I returned to New Zealand and the University of Auckland for postgraduate study in 2015, completing a Masters in Engineering Studies (Hons.) with a research project developing a 3 DoF wrist exoskeleton using shape memory alloy actuators.  

I am now embarking on a PhD in the same field of biomechatronics. My research involves developing and testing a nerve cuff recording system which is capable of deciphering multiple signals occurring concurrently and in real time in a single nerve. The target signal selectivity is at the level of fibre group compound action potentials. The distinction of signals is done by identifying the loci of the signal origins within the cross section of the nerve and feature extraction techniques. The main envisaged application is a more natural interface for robotic prosthetics through improved command resolution and an increased number of command channels.

Magdalena Urbańska

My area of research is optics although I like to combine different aspects of science. I became interested in optics during my MA studies in the Optical Biomedical Imaging Group of Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun, Poland.

My PhD project, under the supervision of Dr Frédérique Vanholsbeeck, focuses on imaging changes in the vitreous humour of the human eye using Optical Coherence Elastography, which is the elastographic extension of OCT. 

In my free time I enjoy traveling, meeting new people and exploring different cultures. 


Neelam Hari

As a recent graduate of Medical Physics and Imaging Technology, Neelam has a strong interest in imaging techniques and wanted to continue with a Masters. Her Masters project focuses on elastography of the human eye and the notion that "people can't treat it, if they can't see it."
Elastography is a technique which maps the mechanical properties of tissue.  Using optical coherence tomography, the biomechanical properties of tissue can be imaged with great resolution. In the eye, there is a chamber between the retina and the lens called the vitreous humour, which is designed to be "invisible" to in vivo imaging techniques. Her Masters project is a feasibility study to see if optical coherence elastography can be a way of imaging this section of the eye.
Neelam has a very strong interest in Outreach programs, where she loves to share her love of science with a wider audience, especiailly with younger people. 
Community-spirited, and now an alumni of the Youth Council in Franklin, she has organised many youth-related events, and in her spare time, she paints, draws and creates things.


Joni White

Centrifugal microfluidic devices for use in food safety testing


I'm in my third year of a BSc at the University of Auckland, studying molecular biology and microbiology. I love my degree! I've been very passionate about biology since I was young. 
I've been lucky enough to work in the Biophotonics group since late 2016 on centrifugal microfluidics for food safety. It has been hugely rewarding; I have learnt so much about the research world, and I know this is where I want to end up!
I'm also a member of the Science Scholars programme at the University of Auckland. When I'm not studying, I'm either baking lots of cakes or out exploring.

Olivier Graffeuille 


I'm a second year Engineering Science student at the University of Auckland, intending on specialising in operations research. I'm also a keen programmer and science enthusiast.  
My winter scholarship with the Biophotonics Group involves helping out with the programming requirements of the Foodsafe project.

Zak Whiting


I'm in the middle of a BSc in Medicinal Chemistry but my passion is music  -  I'm a guitarist in a heavy metal band and I have accumulated a dozen guitars.  Recently I've begun making my own guitar amplifiers and effects pedals.   

When I got the opportunity to combine music and my new electronics knowledge working on the Beambox physics outreach programme, I jumped at the chance.  My summer scholarship project taught me valuable research skills, particularly in analytical thinking and problem solving, and resilience.
If you get the chance to work with the University of Auckland Biophotonics Group I highly recommend it. 

Ross Porter 


I am a second year Computer Systems Engineering and Mathematics conjoint student.
I have always been fond of digital systems and to this day I am fascinated with how everything works in unison to produce impossibly complex machines. I also have a passion for pure mathematics and I love finding it in the most unexpected places.

Mathew Brown

Study of Ostheoarthitis using polarisation sensitive OCT

I am currently finishing the final year of my undergraduate degree in Medical Physics and Imaging technologies. I first got into the Biophotonics Group through the summer research project, which lead into being a research assistant during the following year.  Now I am continuing my research for my fourth year BTech project.

Currently I am evaluating the ability of the swept-source OCT system to detect the early stages of osteoarthritis degeneration in cartilage.  The end game goal would be to use this imaging modality as an in vivo arthritis assessment tool. The field of biophotonics is extremely interesting and being at the forefront of research in a field is exciting.

I have a passion for old cars and outside of university I enjoy tinkering around with my ‘74 Ford Falcon.

Liam Murphy


I am a second year undergraduate student at the University of Auckland studying Physics. I have a fascination for space exploration, astrophotography and computing. 
I have been awarded a summer scholarship to work on linear microfluidics aspects of the FoodSafe project during which I hope to learn more about image processing and spectroscopic techniques.





Physics Department

The University of Auckland

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