Faculty of Science

Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis

A selection of current projects in the Centre is listed here.

We welcome you to discuss other research project ideas with us. To do this:
Domestic students can contact the Professor Martin Saunders, Graduate Research Coordinator in the Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis.
International students can use our online enquiry form, which helps us match your research interests with a potential supervisor.

Ultrahigh-resolution optical microscopy deep in tissue: A nanoscope-in-a-needle
By miniaturization of advanced optical imaging, sensing and spectroscopy systems into a hypodermic needle – a nanoscope-in-a-needle – it will be possible to study the structure and function of living biological systems in their native, three-dimensional environment up to centimetres deep in soft tissue but with unprecedented nano- and micro-scale resolution.
Placental vascularity
An optimal environment in pregnancy is crucial for appropriate fetal development and long term adult health outcomes. This project will use state-of-the-art imaging techniques to understand the pivotal role that the placenta plays in this process. We aim to better comprehend how disturbances in placental vascular development can impact on fetal growth and development. From this we aim to develop therapeutic interventions to enhance placental vascular development in compromised pregnancies.
New ways of identifying signs of life in Earth's oldest rocks
This project will combine several state-of-the-art microscopy techniques to provide more robust criteria for differentiating ancient cellular life from non-biological cell-like artefacts and then to apply this knowledge to determine the biogenicity of controversial cell-like objects from early Archean (c. 3.5-3.0 billion-year-old) rocks.
Magnetoreception: Characterising the cellular basis of the magnetic sense in animals
Using honeybees as a model system, the researcher will use cutting-edge microscopy, microanalysis and magnetometry techniques to find and characterise magnetoreceptive cells. This fundamental research has potential relevance to bee diseases, such as colony collapse disorder or navigational disruption resulting from anthropogenic sources of electromagnetic field emission. In addition, solving the principles of magnetoreception in animals will have high impact in relation to the development of new biotechnologies and biomedical applications.
Exploring the structure and function of biominerals
Teeth, shells and skeletons are stunning examples of natural materials that are assembled using a combination of organic and inorganic building blocks and endowed with superior materials properties, such as strength, flexibility and hardness compared to synthetic analogues. Using microscopic and microanalytical tools, biomineral research aims to explore the complex hierarchical structure of these materials and the cellular processes that govern their fabrication.

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