The Photon Science Institute brings together experts from a range of fields including physics, chemistry, medical sciences, pharmacy, earth sciences, life sciences and engineering to collaboratively work on projects and to solve problems using their vast knowledge base and the PSI's world-leading facilities.

Staff spotlight

Dr Mark Dickinson

Dr Mark Dickinson graduated in Physics from the University of Manchester in 1981 and carried on to research into multi-oscillator ring laser gyroscopes for his PhD in 1984. He was appointed as lecturer in the School of Physics and Astronomy in 1989. His research covers a number of areas, the core of which is Laser Physics. More recently he has been specialising in medical and biological applications of lasers. Recent projects include laser tweezing, blood flow measurements in the microcirculation, laser nerve stimulation for human pain studies, optical coherence tomography and a range of dental applications for lasers.

He has worked in collaboration with a number of medical/dental groups and has been involved with industrial partners, including University spin-off companies. Dr Dickinson is an author, member and one of the key organisers of the Photon Science Institute.

Dr Alex Jones

Alex received a first class MChem from the Department of Chemistry, University of Leicester in 2004, where he remained as a Colt Foundation PhD Fellow, investigating the effect of weak magnetic fields on enzymatic radical pair reactions. He was a BBSRC-funded postdoctoral researcher then Colt Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre under the supervision of Prof Nigel Scrutton. Here, he pioneered the use of magnetic field-coupled optical spectroscopy to elucidate enzyme mechanism. In 2013 he was appointed as an independent Research Fellow at the Photon Science Institute (PSI), cohosted by the School of Chemistry.


His research interests are broadly concerned with the interaction between electromagnetic radiation – be that light or magnetic fields (or both) – and (bio)molecules. Using mainly laser-based techniques (fs-ms; UV-visible / IR absorption; fluorescence) his group studies the biophysical mechanism of photoreceptor proteins that depend on a range of chromophores. His group then either tracks the initial physical processes to a biological outcome or translates this fundamental knowledge into bioinspired technologies. This interdisciplinary approach has led to diverse projects, from a molecular and neuronal description of light-dependent animal magnetoreception to the development of novel optogenetic tools and methods based on natural photoreceptor mechanism.


Alex is head of the Mechanistic Photochemistry and Photobiology research group at The University of Manchester and is also a member of the PSI Ultrafast Science Group, the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology and the Manchester Biomaterials Group. His is passionate about scientific communication, and has advised environmental health and cancer charities, regularly delivers outreach lectures and demonstrations and recently appeared as a scientific expert on the prime-time Channel 4 food and science programme, Food Unwrapped.

Dr Ahsan Nazir

Dr Ahsan Nazir graduated in Physics from St. Catherine’s College, University of Oxford, in 2000. For his DPhil he developed schemes for quantum information processing in semiconductor nanostructures, graduating from the Department of Materials and Worcester College, University of Oxford, in 2004. He joined the University of Manchester in January 2014 as a Photon Science Institute Fellow after spells as a University Research Fellow at Griffith University, Australia, an EPSRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Theoretical Physics at University College London, and most recently as an Imperial College Junior Research Fellow.

His research interests are based around understanding the delicate interplay of quantum coherence and noise in open quantum systems. He has developed a number of innovative methods to model open quantum systems beyond common approximations, and applied them in diverse areas ranging from solid-state quantum information processing to quantum biology. By building on the idea of redrawing the boundary between system and environment, he now aims to develop an efficient framework in which to study both the equilibrium and non-equilibrium dynamics of many-body open quantum systems, with applications such as robust quantum state generation, biomolecular energy transport, and solar energy conversion. He also collaborates with several experimental and theoretical groups worldwide.

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