Studying biological and medical systems (Dr Mark Dickinson)
Dr Dickinson is interested in the biological and medical applications of lasers and optics including for monitoring, imaging, diagnostics and therapy. The majority of projects involve collaboration with medical and biological groups around the University and in local NHS trusts.
An emerging area of work is in studying the optical properties of the skin of neo-tropical tree frogs in collaboration with the Manchester Museum. Certain species of tree frog have an unusual pigment in their skin that enables enhanced reflection in the near-infrared. This allows the frog to mimic the leaves on which it basks – for crypticity for instance – but also probably plays a role in thermoregulation of these cold-blooded animals. The techniques involved include multi-spectral imaging (both in the visible and near-infrared), reflection spectroscopy and optical coherence tomography. The data from these studies are being analysed using techniques such as support vector machines and neural networks in an attempt to classify the species and quantify the skin properties.