Research By Degrees - HDR News

Research By Degrees - HDR News

Research By Degrees - Higher Degree Research News


Here is where you can find out the latest news from our Higher Degree Research students.

Follow along with other News from the Department at our Facebook Page and Twitter account.

Research On The Move .... 

Blake Entwisle - ACAN - North Stradbroke Island


Through the generous support of Macquarie PGRF scheme, I was able to undertake intensive training at the 3-week Australian Course in Advanced Neuroscience, held at the Moreton Bay Research Station on North Stradbroke Island, near Brisbane. This competitive course takes only 12 students a year from across Australia and New Zealand. While on the course, I learnt from over 15 different leaders in the field of electrophysiology and neuroscience, and was able to gain access to world-leading training and equipment.

The bulk of experiments focussed on extremely high resolution (at the picoAmp level) single-cell recording techniques, with lectures ranging from the functioning of cells as resistance-capacitor circuits, through to modern light assisted techniques such as calcium imaging and optogenetics. The skills I have gained at this course will allow me to probe deeper and more thoroughly into my research, which focuses on infrared laser nerve stimulation. I would especially like to thank the course director Dr Stephen Williams and his PhD student Lee Fletcher for their tireless efforts and guidance throughout the course.

blake_e_02  blake_e_01

Piotr Wargocki - ICOB 2017 Conference -Perth, Australia

I have recently visited beautiful city of Perth, where, in the heart of Freemantle, I have been attending the ICOB 2017 conference as a member of a CNBP group. Strict focus on biophotonics and limited number of participants (although with big share of opinion leaders in the field), have created great atmosphere of discussion, highlighting problems and proposing ways to solve them. Next to science, big emphasis was put on the topic of commercialisation. Can’t imagine better place to stimulate the brain of a young researcher like myself.

While being there I have also taken opportunity to meet with our collaborators from Telethon Kids Institute. We have made final arrangements towards our first common publication, with the final goal of helping parents with children with cystic fibrosis to perform examinations at home.

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Erik Kool - Observing with the Gemini South telescope in Chile, March 2017

gemini_report_1As a member of international collaboration SUNBIRD (Supernovae Unmasked By Infra-Red Detection) I visited the Gemini South telescope on Cerro Pachon in Chile for one night of observing. For our project we observe with the largest optical telescopes in the world that employ adaptive optics, a state-of-the-art observing technique that uses lasers to correct for the Earth's turbulent atmosphere. In this way it is possible to obtain images with a resolution comparable to that of the Hubble Space Telescope, and this lets us find exploding stars (supernovae) that otherwise would be missed in the crowded central regions of galaxies.

During my observing night in March the observing conditions were excellent which led to the discovery of one supernova. We are now following the evolution of this supernova using telescopes across the world. The next observing run with Gemini South is scheduled for July, and we hope we can observe it one last time before it fades away.


Wilfred T Gee - Wilfred Gee visits the Subaru Telescope

hilo_5As a second year Master of Research candidate, I have been working with an open source citizen-science project called PANOPTES that aims to help make a map of transiting exoplanets in the night sky. The project is unique in that the devices we use to capture the data are designed to be extremely cheap, using consumer DSLR cameras and other low-cost hardware, thus opening up the possibility of involving students and amateurs in real science without the risk of damaging expensive equipment.

My research has involved the writing of the entire control software for the unit as well as laying the groundwork for the data pipeline that will process the data from all of the individual units. To accomplish this I was heavily involved in the building of the baseline PANOPTES unit, PAN001, which is located at the Mauna Loa Observatory on the Big Island of Hawai’i.

hilo_2While the initial construction of the baseline unit went well, there were a number of required hardware and software upgrades that were identified over the course of my thesis. In order to fix these issues, and to have involved conversations about the data processing algorithm with the project’s founder Olivier Guyon, I travelled to Hilo, Hawai’i during the last week of March.

Busy, productive, and fun, the two days in the lab at Subaru Telescope headquarters, two days on the mountain working out hardware and software bugs, and three days back at Subaru talking about data processing, algorithms, and future work with the entire PANOPTES team was time well spent.

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Matt van Breugel - Hasselt Diamond Workshop, Belgium, March 2017

mvb_image_2 The Hasselt Diamond Workshop provides a vibrant forum for rapid and intense discussions on scientific and technological topics in the diamond science community. The workshop is said to be more similar to a family reunion than to a conference - everyone is there and everyone is excited to share their stories.

I attended the workshop to present some of the work from the Diamond Nanoscience Lab to an audience filled with unfamiliar faces but well known names, the authors of many papers I have studied.

The saying "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." rings true here. This was a meeting of the giants of the Diamond Nanoscience community, and I hope I am a little taller from the experience.


Kaixin Zhang– Research collaboration with the University of Adelaide, March 2017

kaixin_zhang_profile_1During the month of March, this year, I got the opportunity to carry out research activities at the University of Adelaide. As a PHD student, the focus of my research is on fabrication of the sensor platform to realize the sensitive determination of cytokines. 

In the last year, we have successfully designed a sensor platform based on the optical fibre and realized the detection of cytokines in vitro. To further explore the practical significance of this optical fibre sensor, I had a strong desire to figure out how the performance of fibre sensor in-vivo. For this I collaborated with the University of Adelaide, and its the first time I have seen the fibre device prepared by myself to be employed in-vivo. That is really an exciting story happened in my life.  

Azim Arman from the Mark Hutchinson group carefully showed me how to deal with an in-vivo experiment which turned out to be really different from the experiment in vitro, and it impressed me a lot. The successful application of the fibre sensor in an in-vivo setting greatly inspired my enthusiasm and confidence for my research. I am looking forward to carrying out more collaborations in the future.


2017 PhD Students 

Andrew Lehmann

PhD Thesis submitted by Andrew Lehmann with supervisor Professor Mark Wardle

In my PhD, I studied the ubiquitous shock waves found throughout the violent interstellar medium.  Radiation from these shocks links observations to the physical processes governing the formation of stars. In particular, I found that the supersonic turbulence dominating the structure of star-forming regions could be probed using the radiation from different families of magnetised shocks.

2017 2nd Year MRes Students 

Andrew Ross-Adams

Hi – I’m Andrew Ross-Adams and I am engaged in a Masters of Research under Professor Michael Withford. My research focuses on developing an integrated optical fibre mode-division-multiplexing platform to enable higher fibre data capacity and novel fibre security regimes. 

I chose this topic because it represents an exciting commercial opportunity which provides tangible benefits to the global community.


Stephen Dunn

My name is Stephen Dunn: I'm from Sydney. I completed my Bachelor of Science Majoring in Physics and Mathematics here at Macquarie Univesity, and I have just started my research project in the field of optomechanics. 

My project will contribute some of the ground work in designing a novel type of micro-particle trap which will one day enable macroscopic quantum superpositions when cooled to the quantum ground state, highly sensitive local electric and magnetic field sensing, and open new areas of physics.


Oliver Conquest

My name is Oliver Conquest, I am currently doing my Masters of Research project in the Diamond Nano-Science group under the supervision of Dr. Thomas Volz. 

My research project investigates Raman spectroscopy of nano-diamond particles as a new tool to measure temperatures at the nanoscale.

Oliver Conquest 

Adam Batten

Hi – I'm Adam Batten and I perform hydro-dynamical simulations to understand how stars near the end of their lives interact with their companions. In particular I study a phase called 'the common envelope', which is where the primary star engulfs one of its companions. 

My Masters of Research thesis involves studying common envelope in 3-body systems that contain objects that range from planet sized companions to giant stars 50 times larger than our own.

Adam Batten 

Connor Stewart

I'm Connor Stewart, a 2nd year Masters of Research student in Physics and Astronomy. My project is on optical trapping of porous silica nanoparticles that are filled with a drug or dye and I am measuring their optical activity as the drugs or dyes are being released. 

The blue box in the photo is the laser I am using to trap the nanoparticles.


Gayathri Bharathan

Hi - I'm Gayathri a second year Masters of Research student, working under the supervision of Dr. Alex Fuerbach and Dr. Stuart Jackson.  

I basically work on fibre lasers, operating at mid-IR region. Fibre lasers offers a number of important advantages over other laser sources including high beam quality, very compact design and long term reliability.  

My aim is to design a dispersion managed mid-IR fibre laser using holmium doped ZBLAN fibre as the gain medium.


Bryte Hagan

Hi, my name is Bryte Hagan and I'm interested in all things quantum. 

My Masters of Research research falls in the intersection of quantum field theory and quantum computer science. Currently I am working on taking the well studied Transverse Field Ising Model and expressing it using different wavelet families. 

The equation next to me in the picture is a short derivation of the Dirac equation from the conservation of energy, which I have recently learned about. Many of the steps in the proof are ingenious, and to me it highlights how inspirationally imaginative some of the great minds in Physics truly were.


Mojtaba Moshkani

As a Masters of Research  student I am working on Diamond etching using UV pulses. Yes, using light to shape the hardest material on earth.


Babatunde Ayeni – APS March Meeting Conference , Baltimore, ab_profileMaryland, USA, March 2016

My name is Babatunde Ayeni, and I am a PhD student in the group of A/Prof. Gavin Bremen. The focus of my research is on (topological) phase transitions in systems of non-Abelian anyons. In quite simple terms, anyons are particles which only exist on the surface of a material, i.e. in two-dimensions. Apart from the theoretical aesthetic appeal of these particles, they also hold a promise to realise a quantum computer. Anyonic systems are quite challenging to study analytically, and even to simulate computationally. In my group, we have developed a number of ansatze based on tensor network theory to simulate anyons. In particular, together with my collaborators, I extended the anyonic matrix product states (MPS) ansatz to include U(1) symmetry, which can be used to simulate anyonic systems at fixed particle density.

During the month of March, this year, I attended the American Physical Society (APS) ab_dinnerconference—-which is nicknamed “March meeting”, where I presented some of the exciting results that I obtained on the phase diagram of braiding and interacting Ising anyons. The number of attendees at this year’s APS March meeting, which took place at Baltimore Maryland, was almost ten-thousand souls! Apparently, March meeting is always a big conference, with people coming from all over the world. Usually, the  way those kind of big conferences work is that, multiple sessions run in parallel, and people can choose which talk to attend. In the March meeting, each speaker has an allotted time of twelve minutes to speak, after which the audience can ask about two-to-three questions. In that short time, the speaker cannot go into the details of the talk, except to advertise the results. I gave my talk, and I think it was well received. Afterwards, someone in the audience asked me a very simple question, and that was it! I also attended couple of interesting talks, and also got the chance to meet (or see) some iconic physicists.

On the  overall, the APS March meeting was fun. It’s one of those places early career researchers (PhDs + postDocs) want to go to. It’s an avenue to network with other scientists. The city of Baltimore itself is not a bad place. That city has a shady history of gangsterism, but I didn’t experience anything of such; it’s quite a lovely place. I like it. It was fun!

Michelle Whitford – Mass Spectrometry, April 2016

During the university break I was able to visit La Trobemichelle_withford_profile University in Melbourne to complete the experiments for my Masters thesis. I worked at the Centre for Materials and Surface Science with Professor Paul Pigram and Dr Rob Jones using their Time-of-flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer (TOF-SIMS). 

I depth profiled three different groups of Ancient Egyptian faience beads to look for signs of corrosion in their chemical composition. Our initial results prove that these beads are a lot more complex than we first anticipated - there are many surprising elements appearing in these beads! I am looking forward to analysing the data I have collected to improve conservation methods and better understand the Ancient Egyptian culture.


Nora Tischler – Cotutelle: Australia and Austria 2014-2015nora_profile

Under a cotutelle agreement it is possible to do a PhD jointly in two countries. In my case these countries were two letters and 16,000 km apart - Australia and Austria. This has given me the opportunity to be part of two groups, the group of Assoc. Prof. Gabriel Molina-Terriza here at Macquarie University, and the group of Prof. Zeilinger at the University of Vienna. My time in beautiful Vienna has been very rewarding, letting me experience the vibrant research environment, meet many people, and learn a lot. 

My main project there was a quantum metrology experiment in which we measured optical activity, a polarisation-dependent phase imparted on light by chiral media. For an object to be chiral means that it is impossible to bring a mirror inverted version in coincidence with the original one, even when allowing rotations. A helix is one of the best known examples of a chiral object. An astonishing fact is that life on earth is asymmetric: The sugars and aminoacids in living organisms have particular handedness, and physiological processes can distinguish between molecules of different handedness. 

In our proof-of-principle experiment, we used quantum light to probe the wavelength-dependent optical activity of sucrose solutions. Our probe light consisted of polarisation-entangled photon pairs specifically designed to access multicolour properties of the optical activity. The resource of entanglement allows for an improved sensitivity compared to typical classical measurement schemes.


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