PhD scholarship - Interaction of light with tissues: A hyper-spectral approach


Enrolment status New students
Student type Domestic students, International students
Level of study Higher Degree by Research
Study area Engineering and Computing
HDR funding type Living stipend scholarship, Tuition Scholarship
Scholarship value $28,597 per annum (2021 rate), indexed annually
Scholarship duration 3.5 years with the possibility of 1 extension in line with UQ and RTP Scholarship Policy
Number awarded 1
Opening date 29 July 2021
Closing date 30 August 2021


Supervisor – Professor Aleksandar Rakic

One of the main challenges in biophotonics is to understand how light interacts with biological tissues; understanding the mechanisms of this interaction will enable the introduction of new biomedical diagnostic and therapeutic modalities. UQ Photonics group invite applications for a full-time PhD scholarship in the area of light interaction in multi-layered, multi-component tissues. The successful candidate will work within a team of researchers investigating biomedical aspects of light-tissue interaction in the near and mid infrared (NIR, MIR) as well as terahertz (THz) parts of the spectrum.

Optical techniques, such as ellipsometry and spectroscopy, have been very successful in characterisation of multi-layered materials, comprised of homogeneous or graded refractive index inorganic or organic layers. However, the understanding of optical response of heterogeneous multi-layered materials with irregular morphology such as biological tissues is still quite incomplete, arguably, because the light interacts with the tissue on a scale from nano to macro. A slew of physical mechanisms governing the light-tissue interaction on the macro-, micro- and nano-scales, accounts for what we refer to as the multi-scale nature of the problem. The complexity of this interaction can be linked to the compounding effect of light scattering, in granular and irregular structures.

This position will contribute to addressing the problem of multi-scale light-tissue interaction by using multiscale hyperspectral experimental interrogation of tissue in both the spectral and spatial sense. By using the extremely wide spectral range of electromagnetic radiation – between THz and NIR – we will investigate a range of scattering and absorption effects arising from the multiscale nature of biological tissue. Data from the hyperspectral experimental investigations will then be used to develop computational models of light-tissue interaction. The models will attempt to explain the interaction of light on the extremely wide spectral range of the electromagnetic radiation by investigating a range of scattering and absorption effects arising from the multi-scale nature of biological tissues. The models will also provide insight on how multi-component alteration in biological tissues during disease affect light-tissue interaction, and how this could translate to optical diagnostics of biological tissues.

We are seeking a talented and highly motivated PhD student to work on these challenging experimental and computational investigations. The primary tasks will include laboratory experiments on soft tissues (e.g., articular cartilage) using a combination of far field spectroscopy with the nano-scale resolution THz and mid-infrared scattering Scanning Near-field Optical Microscopy (s-SNOM), and/or computational modelling of photon transport and interaction in biological tissues using methods such as diffusion approximation, Monte Carlo simulation and finite element methods.  

A working knowledge of spectroscopic techniques in near-infrared, or mid-infrared or terahertz ranges of the spectrum would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

Research environment

Project will be hosted within the UQ Photonics group and is perfectly aligned with the main efforts of the University. Group has a strong effort in developing THz biomedical imaging systems with several “world first” results, industrial and government funded grants in the past few years and strong international collaborations with European partners.


To be eligible, you must meet the entry requirements for a higher degree by research.

This scholarship is open to Australian citizens, permanent residents and International students who are currently in Australia at the time of application and commencement.

Applications are closed.

Before you get started

If this scholarship has rules, download and read them.

How to apply

To apply for admission and scholarship, follow this link. There is no separate application for scholarship because you will have the opportunity to request scholarship consideration on the application for admission.

Before submitting an application you should:

When you apply, please ensure that under the scholarships and collaborative study section you:

  1. Select ‘My higher degree is not collaborative’
  2. Select 'I am applying for, or have been awarded a scholarship or sponsorship'.
  3. Select ‘Other’, then ‘Research Project Scholarship’ and type in ‘HYPERSPECTRAL-RAKIC’ in the 'Name of scholarship' field.

See an example of what you have to do

Learn more about applying for a higher degree by research at UQ

Selection criteria

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant’s previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field/s of applied mathematics, medical/applied physics, biomedical engineering or related fields and the potential for scholastic success.

The successful candidate should have a background in one or more of the following:

  • Experience or working knowledge of spectroscopic techniques in near-infrared, or mid-infrared or terahertz ranges of the spectrum. 
  • Interest in working in the field of scanning probe microscopy (e.g. AFM or SNOM),
  • Mathematical background (analytical or numerical methods) required for modeling light – matter or light-tissue interaction (with Intermediate-level programming in Python, C, MATLAB or similar)
  • Experience in signal processing, data analysis or classification, of spectroscopic data. (with Intermediate-level programming in Python, C, MATLAB or similar)

The candidate should have background in Applied Mathematics, Medical/Applied Physics, Electrical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering or related fields. The successful applicants will enroll through the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering (ITEE).

If you have any of the above background or similar that might be relevant please feel free to contact us to talk about potentially applying the position.

Applications are closed.


Professor Aleksandar Rakic
Applications are closed.

Terms and conditions

Read the policy on UQ Research Scholarships.

A domestic part-time student with carer’s responsibilities, a medical condition or a disability, which prevents them from studying full time may be eligible for scholarship consideration, on a case by case basis.

Applications are closed.