Department Research Fellow wins Scientific Instrument Makers highest award

Congratulations to Dr Alex Corbett, Research Fellow in Advanced Microscopy at the Department of Engineering Science, who has been awarded the Scientific Instrument Makers' Beloe Fellowship 2014/15 - their highest award.

Dr Alex CorbettValued at £5,000 per year for up to three years, this is the Scientific Instrument Makers (SIM) most prestigious award and goes to an outstanding candidate involved in postdoctoral research. SIM, a modern livery company that works to increase the interest in science and engineering amongst young people, awarded Dr Corbett this award for his research project titled: “Functional imaging of cardiac repair with fast focusing microscopy”.

This project will develop a microscope which is capable of imaging the integration of synthetic tissue patches with tissue damaged following a heart attack. Fluorescent dyes will be used to report on the electro-mechanical function of heart muscle cells, both in the synthetic patch and the adjacent damaged tissue. The microscope will have the unique ability to acquire optical cross-sections through the patch and damaged tissue several hundred times each second, allowing the tissue properties to be tracked throughout the cardiac cycle. The rich structural and functional information gathered by the microscope can then be used to accelerate developments in regenerative medicine.

Dr Corbett said: “I am delighted to be awarded the prestigious Beloe Fellowship, as it provides recognition that my research in fast three-dimensional microscopy has reached the high standards of the Worshipful Company of Scientific Instrument Makers. The award provides a great vote of confidence, and I hope to be able to use this to accelerate my research in this exciting and important field”.

Dr Corbett is a physicist and optical engineer interested in building advanced optical microscopes for applications in biomedical imaging. After completing a Master of Science degree in experimental and theoretical physics at Cambridge University, he worked in industry for a year before returning to Cambridge to start his doctoral studies in the Department of Engineering.

After completing his PhD, he spent four years at a local start-up company making holographic projectors for display applications in medical, aerospace, automotive and consumer electronics markets.

Dr Corbett returned to academic research in 2010 with a postdoctoral position under the supervision of Professor Tony Wilson here at Oxford University in the Department. He spent two years developing novel porphyrin dyes for imaging electrical activity in neurons with Professors Harry Anderson and Hagan Bayley. In addition, he began collaborating with Drs. Gil Bub and Rebecca Burton to record 3D images of cardiac tissue sufficiently quickly to temporally freeze residual tissue motion.

In 2013 he spent a year working at Canon Research in Sydney (Australia), developing technologies in depth imaging and phase detection for medical applications. He returned to Oxford University in 2014.

About SIM Beloe Fellowship

The SIM Beloe Fellowship is aimed at “high flyers” and ‘is a forward-looking award based on past achievement and continuing excellence’. SIM has a thriving apprenticeship programme and supports post-graduates and post-doctoral students. It works with the National Physical Laboratory and government departments to ensure that measurement standards are maintained for all industries

Applicants for the SIM Beloe Fellowship ‘are expected to be involved in the design of instrumentation, rather than its use, and to remain in the practice of scientific instrumentation in the United Kingdom over a period of time’.

For more information about SIM and the Beloe Fellowship please visit:

For more information about Dr Corbett's research please visit: