Research Associate in Photonic Imaging Strategies for Technical Art

Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh (GB)
14 May 2018
End of advertisement period
06 Jun 2018
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Heriot-Watt University has five campuses: three in the UK (Edinburgh, Scottish Borders and Orkney), one in Dubai and one in Malaysia. The University offers a highly distinctive range of degree programmes in the specialist areas of science, engineering, design, business and languages.

With a history dating back to 1821, Heriot-Watt University has established a reputation for world-class teaching and practical, leading-edge research, which has made it one of the top UK universities for business and industry. We connect with industry at every level and develop programmes to match their needs – so employers get work-ready industry-fit graduates.

Heriot-Watt is also Scotland's most international university, boasting the largest international student cohort.

We have an established set of values that help us to nurture innovation and leadership, and show our commitment to continuous improvement and development in all our activities.

For full details on our University please view our Careers at Heriot-Watt http://www.hw.ac.uk/about/careers-at-heriot-watt.htm

The overarching aim of this project is to leverage exciting technical opportunities presented by recent advances in photonic and computational technologies to reveal new insights and knowledge of objects forming part of our cultural heritage, such as historical and contemporary paintings, polychrome sculpture and historic decorative scheme of interiors, buildings and monuments.

Our objective is to create a process where current knowledge and conventional techniques from the technical art history community are used to inform the development of smart ICT strategies such as spectral compressive sensing and 4D spatio-spectral imaging.

Specifically, in the above context we aim:

(1) To explore and define the most promising areas for cross-disciplinary optical imaging combined with spectroscopy, specifically in the framework of a collaboration between research teams in Photonics, Artificial Intelligence Technologies and Technical Art History. By providing an imaging and spectroscopic performance hitherto unavailable, we expect our collaboration to lead to an unprecedented understanding of the techniques, materials, structure and condition of historic and contemporary cultural heritage.

(2) To develop appropriate non-destructive cultural heritage imaging strategies based on a diverse wavelength range from 1 to 12 um and providing 4-dimensional (3 x spatial; 1 x spectral) high-resolution datasets. These imaging modalities will be informed by the specific nature of the objects under consideration, combining expertise from Photonics, Artificial Intelligence Technologies and Technical Art History.

(3) To evaluate the most promising strategies experimentally, by accessing case studies from cultural heritage collections in Glasgow and London and comparing the data with established and state-of-the-art optical imaging / spectroscopy techniques already employed to characterise cultural heritage both in the laboratory and in-situ.

(4) To employ novel cross-disciplinary approaches to the acquisition and processing of the data, leveraging techniques such as compressive sensing, machine learning and content based retrieval.

(5) To engage with (a) the public to disseminate and explain the research, its findings and significance; and (b) specialists in other disciplines (forensics; security; archaeology; geology; food science; energy) in which the developed technologies could also have profound impact.

The position is available from 1 August 2018, with the appointment running until 31 January 2022.

Implement the work plan as set out in the research project summary which supports this appointment.

Provide day-to-day supervision of a photonics research student associated with the project, assist the development of student research skills, and contribute to the assessment of student knowledge in the context of teaching and supervision duties.

Under direction from the Principal Investigator, lead the dissemination of the results of the research in peer reviewed journals and conferences, and/or other appropriate media.

Maintain written records of the research results and associated intellectual property and data analysis, as required under the conditions of the funder.

Work collaboratively with our industrial and academic partners in the project, being available for travel for short periods to their sites.

Provide guidance as required to technical and administrative support staff, as necessary in the prosecution of the project.

The ideal candidate will have a strong experimental background in one or more of the following areas:

  • femtosecond solid state laser and / or OPO construction and development
  • mid-infrared imaging and / or mid-infrared spectroscopy
  • optical coherent tomography (OCT), particularly the construction of OCT systems
  • laser scanning microscopy, particularly the construction of such microscopes
  • hyperspectral imaging
  • electronics
  • working with a relevant user community
  • Good communication skills and an appropriate publication record are essential.
  • A knowledge of MATLAB and instrument interfacing is desirable.

General tasks will involve scientific research; analysis and interpretation of data; daily oversight of the activities of postgraduate and undergraduate project students in the laboratory; communication with other investigators involved in this collaborative project; preparation of scientific papers; presentation of research at conferences.

The successful candidate will be expected to conduct and lead their own experiments whilst also supervising the activities of junior group members and PhD students.

Other responsibilities will include assistance in the day-to-day maintenance of the experimental facilities, liaising with companies and external collaborators.

The successful candidate is expected to be involved where appropriate in outreach activities, with roles that can be tuned to the specific preferences of the candidate but may involve for example talks for the general public and preparation of experimental demonstrators.

Essential Criteria

  • You will have a PhD in an area cognate to the project - ideally in infrared femtosecond laser microscopy or spectroscopic imaging.
  • Demonstrable experience in the construction of laser systems and / or imaging systems, for example sub-surface laser-scanning microscopes or optical coherence tomography systems.
  • A record of high quality publications, and evidence of contribution to the writing of these publications proportionate to your opportunity and career stage.
  • Excellent written and spoken English, supported by evidence of your experience in writing and managing peer-reviewed papers.
  • Ability to articulate your research work, both in technical reports / papers and by oral presentation.
  • Evidence of your research ability in terms of your approach to problem solving.
  • Flexibility in working patterns, as necessitated by the project.
  • Ability to formulate and progress work on your own initiative, and contribute your own ideas.
  • A strong theoretical understanding and thorough grounding in experimental techniques relevant to the project.
  • The ability to be able to work as part of a team on the experiments at Heriot-Watt and more widely with collaborators at other Universities or in industry.
  • A proven academic ability and a demonstrable high level of technical competence in experimental optics / photonics and the analysis / modelling of the results.
  • Experience in public presentations of your personal scientific results (e.g. conference talks).

Desirable Criteria

  • Demonstrable experience in at least one other area below, supported by evidence:
  • construction of femtosecond laser and / or OPO systems
  • construction of laser scanning microscopy systems
  • experience of constructing mid-infrared spectroscopy systems
  • practical electronics
  • emtosecond/ picosecond / ultrafast lasers
  • evidence of working closely with end users in an applied project
  • Evidence of your ability to present work effectively in person, e.g. at conferences and seminars.
  • Experience of programming in MATLAB and laboratory instrumentation.
  • Evidence of ability, subject to opportunity, to supervise other researchers, e.g. PhD students and undergraduate project students.

Applications can be submitted up to midnight (UK time) on 6 June 2017

Informal enquiries may be made to Professor Derryck Reid at D.T.Reid@hw.c.uk

Applications are particularly welcome from women and black and ethnic minority ethnic candidates, who are under-represented in academic posts at Heriot-Watt.

Use our total rewards calculator: https://www.hw.ac.uk/about/work/total-rewards-calculator.htm to see the value of benefits provided by Heriot-Watt University.