Personal profile

Research interests

Robert is interested in the applications of photonics in a wide range of areas, including astronomy [1], laser manufacturing [2], fundamental physics [3] and medicine [4].

[1] R. J. Harris et al, “Photonic spatial reformatting of stellar light for diffraction-limited spectroscopy”, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 450, 428 (2015)  

[2] C. A. Ross et al "Optimisation of ultrafast laser assisted etching in fused silica," Opt. Express 26, 24343-24356 (2018) 

[3] S. Mukherjee et al, “State-recycling and time-resolved imaging in topological photonic lattices,” Nat Commun 9, 4209 (2018)

[4] D. Choudhury et al, "Endoscopic sensing of alveolar pH," Biomed. Opt. Express 8, 243-259 (2017)

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Robert was awarded the BSc in Physics (1st Class Honours) from Heriot Watt University (HWU) in 2000, the MSc in Optoelectronics and Laser Devices from the University of St Andrews in 2001 and the PhD in the Physics from HWU in 2006. He was awarded an STFC Advanced Fellowship in 2010 to investigate the applications of photonic technologies in astronomy and was simultaneously appointed to a Lectureship in Physics. He was promoted to Reader in 2013 and a Personal Chair in Physics in 2016. As Principal Investigator, he has received ~£10M in funding since 2010 from sources including the EPSRC, STFC, EU, Royal Society, and industry. He is Principle Investigator of the £6.1m EPSRC Programme Grant “U-care” which seeks to develop deep UV light technologies in collaboration with the Universities of Edinburgh and Bath for “Transformative Healthcare Technologies for 2050”. He is a Co-Investigator on the EPSRC-funded project “PROTEUS” (, an EPSRC Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration that has secured > £13M in funding from EPSRC since 2013, and is aimed at developing photonic diagnostics for lung disease in critically ill patients. He holds an honorary position at the Queens Medical Research Institute (QMRI) at the University of Edinburgh. He is a Co-Investigator on the £5.6M EPSRC-Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in laser-based production processes (CIM-laser) (, the aim of which is to drive advanced laser-based manufacturing techniques into industry. In addition to his academic activities, Robert co-founded Optoscribe Ltd in 2010, a laser-manufacturing company now occupying its own premises in Livingston, and permanently employing > 35 permanent staff. 


Roles & Responsibilities

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


  • QC Physics
  • photonics


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