Our Management Team

Robert R. Thomson

Professor of Photonics at Heriot Watt University

Robert is interested in the applications of light in areas such as clinical and biomedical photonics, laser manufacturing and advanced optical instrumentation.

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Specific current interests include the development of new fibre-optic technologies for the minimally invasive imaging of tissues with unprecedented resolution, new light-based therapies for treating infection and resecting tissues with extreme precision, and new photonic approaches to interrogating tissues in a label free manner with the aim of guiding clinical decisions.

He is Principal Investigator of the £6.1M “u-Care” Programme Grant, which was funded as part of the EPSRC “Transformative Healthcare Technologies for 2050 call” and has been awarded ~£35M in funding since 2009 (~£11M as PI and £24M as Co-I). Robert collaborates closely with industry, and co-founded Optoscribe Ltd which now employs >35 staff and occupies dedicated manufacturing premises in Livingston – UK. Outside of work, Robert enjoys walking, reading, and spending time with the family and friends.

Tim Birks

Professor of physics at the University of Bath

Tim’s research interests focus on the physics of light propagation in optical fibres. 

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He is best known for pioneering work on photonic crystal fibres with various guidance mechanisms, including those with hollow cores, and for the development of tapered fibres including the photonic lantern.

The applications of this research include optical telecoms, astro-photonics, and biomedical sensing and imaging. He is inventor or co-inventor of 25 granted US and European patents. He was elected Fellow of the Optical Society of America in 2007, and was awarded the 2018 Rank Prize for Optoelectronics.

Kev Dhaliwal

Professor of Molecular Imaging and Healthcare Technology at the University of Edinburgh and a Consultant Physician in Respiratory Medicine

Kev has a passion for developing new technologies for healthcare impact.

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He is the Chief Investigator on six first-in-human trials of optical molecular imaging reagents and devices related to the diagnosis of bacterial infection, inflammation and cancer. 

Collaborating widely with industry, he is an advocate of the need to work across scientific disciplines and translate physical science research into healthcare.

John Travers

Professor of Physics at Heriot-Watt University

John leads the Laboratory of Ultrafast Physics and Optics (LUPO) and is a Professor of Physics at Heriot-Watt University.

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He received the M.Sci degree in Mathematics and Physics from Durham University (UK) in 2003, and the M.Sc and Ph.D degree, in 2004 and 2008 respectively, from Imperial College London (UK). After a period as an Imperial College Junior Research Fellow, he moved to the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, Erlangen, Germany (2010) to lead the ultrafast nonlinear optics group in Prof. Philip Russell’s division. In 2015 he was awarded a European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant and joined the Institute of Photonics and Quantum Science at Heriot-Watt University, being promoted to full Professor in 2019. In 2020 he was awarded the ERC Consolidator Grant and elected as Fellow of the Optical Society (OSA).

John’s research is focused on using nonlinear optics to create new light sources with tailored, and sometimes extreme, spectral and temporal properties. A core research interest is the generation of deep and vacuum ultraviolet light using nonlinear dynamics in gas-filled hollow-core fibres.

John spends his free time with his young children, reading, and cycling.

Natalie Jones

u-Care Project Manager

Natalie began her career in cardiovascular research at the University of Edinburgh before moving on to become the u-Care project manager.

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Having carried out a PhD in cardiovascular biology, focusing on the role of the kidneys in blood pressure regulation, Natalie undertook a postdoc position looking at in vivo renal sodium handling, both at the University of Edinburgh. Moving away from the lab, she is now the Project Manager for the U-care project, coordinating research between The University of Edinburgh, Heriot Watt University, and Bath University as well as leading the public engagement and comms of the project.

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Project Manager: Dr Natalie Jones

e-mail: natalie.jones@ed.ac.uk

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He is especially focused on the generation and use of bright, tuneable, and ultrashort laser pulses in the ultraviolet, both in applied contexts and experiments in fundamental science. During his PhD at Imperial College London, he also worked on X-ray high-harmonic generation, strong-field physics, and ultrafast spectroscopy.

When he is not fiddling with laser beams, he can most often be found climbing various rocks.

Funding Bodies



u-CARE Universities

Heriot-Watt University

University of Edinburgh

University of Bath 

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