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Research Associate

Company: University of Glasgow    Location: Glasgow

Project title:
Non-line-of-sight LIDAR for self-driving vehicles.

Project description:
This project is aimed at developing novel non-line-of-sight LIDAR technology, in collaboration with an industrial partner, JCC Bowers, working in the field of self-driving vehicles. Specifically, the job requires expert knowledge in LIDAR and single photon detection. It also requires a hands-on approach to problem-solving practical problems and a desire to work on a commercially relevant project. The successful candidate will also be expected to contribute to the formulation and submission of research publications and research proposals as well as help manage and direct this complex and challenging project as opportunities allow.

The final goal of the project is to develop, together with JCC Bowers, a compact system that can be mounted on a moving vehicle/car and that allows to detect the presence of a moving object that is not within the direct line of sight, for example an approaching vehicle or person from behind a blind corner. A placement of up to 6 months to work directly with the company engineers is also expected as part of the project in order to effectively integrate the developed hardware into the company’s software platform and also perform on-vehicle road tests.

Various hardware options will be tested: both femtosecond oscillators and nanosecond microchip lasers will be tested together with single photon SPAD detectors and APDs. The data read-out is expected to be implemented on FPGA, programmed and adapted in-house. Basic software data analysis will be developed in-house before attempting integration with the JCC-Bowers Cobalt SmartSuite system.

Main Duties and Responsibilities

1. Perform the following activities in conjunction with the Principal/Co Investigator:

2. Take a leading role in the planning and conduct of assigned research individually or jointly in accordance with the project deliverables.

3. Take a leading role in the acquisition, set up, maintenance and integration of experimental apparatus or computational kit, or in setting up theoretical models or analysis strategies.

4. Document research output including analysis and interpretation of all data, maintaining records and databases, drafting technical/progress reports and papers as appropriate.

5. Survey the research literature and environment, understand the research challenges associated with the project & subject area, & develop/implement a suitable research strategy.

6. Presentation of work at international and national conferences, at internal and external seminars, colloquia and workshops to develop and enhance our research profile.

7. Perform administrative tasks related to the activities of the research group and School, including Budgets/Expenditure.

8. Be responsible for safety management related to the organisation and running of Laboratory and/or Experimental techniques, equipment and processes as appropriate.

9. Keep up to date with current knowledge and recent advances in the field/discipline.

10. Engage in personal, professional and career development, to enhance both specialist and transferable skills in accordance with desired career trajectory.

11. Undertake any other duties of equivalent standing as assigned by the Head of School and/or PI.

12. To contribute to the enhancement of the University’s international profile in line with the University’s Strategic Plan - Inspiring People – Changing the World.

These key tasks are not intended to be exhaustive but simply highlight a number of major tasks which the staff member may be reasonably expected to perform.

Knowledge, Qualifications, Skills and Experience


A1 A PhD or equivalent in Physics or Engineering
A2 Specialist practical knowledge of single photon detection and TCSPC.
A3 A comprehensive and up-to-date knowledge of current issues and future directions within the wider subject area of LIDAR detection
A4 Knowledge of specialist IT software (eg. Matlab, LabView, or Python)


C1 Proven ability to build optical setups, ideally with experience with LIDAR or related technology
C2 Research creativity and strong cross-discipline collaborative ability as appropriate
C3 Excellent communication skills (oral and written), including public presentations and ability to communicate complex data/concepts clearly and concisely
C4 Extensive IT and data analysis/interpretation skills, ability to control equipment via computer interface

D1 FPGA programming


E1 3+ years relevant research experience
E2 Experience of scientific writing
E3 A track record of presentation and publication of research results in quality journals/conferences
E4 Experience of making a leading contribution in academic activities
E5 Ability to demonstrate a degree of independence as illustrated by identification of project objectives from assessment of the literature, design & analysis of experiments & drafting of papers.
E6 Experience in undertaking independent research

F1 An emerging national or international reputation

Job Features

The aspects described below will be performed in conjunction with and under the guidance of the Principal/Co Investigator.

To carry out a range of research activities and functions within academic environments of the highest national or international quality.
To carry out research with a strong industrial component requiring motivation to deliver practical results.
Publish and seek funding as appropriate to subject specialism within agreed timescales
Informal supervision and support of less experienced members of the project team e.g. postgraduate and project students
Undertake teaching or other duties in accordance with school policy
Engage in personal, professional and career development to enhance both specialist and transferable skills in accordance with desired career trajectory
Leadership in the design and implementation in your specific research project(s) as appropriate

Planning and Organising
Management of time and prioritisation of research, teaching and administrative duties
Planning, organisation and implementation of research project on a weekly/monthly basis
Plan research directions that are within the available budget
React to varying project needs and deadlines

Decision Making
Undertake decision making on all aspects of research project/activities
Prioritise own, and where appropriate delegate to junior team members’, workload
Decide on research directions and goals within remit of original project proposal
Adjust research approaches to meet project outcomes
Identify best journals for publication and meetings/conferences to attend
Purchase of equipment and materials
Safe and effective lab management

Internal/External Relationships
University colleagues: to exchange information to ensure efficient working and to facilitate cross disciplinary working
External bodies/collaborators: proactively maintain co-operation and links at all levels to enhance profile and reputation
Dissemination: Preparation and presentation of reports/results and participation in meetings and conference calls

Problem Solving
Research including technical and theoretical aspects, problem solving and development of novel ideas
Be aware of project and budgetary issues, equipment lead times
Assistance of undergraduate/postgraduate students and junior team members with problems relating to research project

Representation of the University/College/School through presentation at national and international events
Attendance at training events to learn and implement new research technologies
Prepared to travel to work in the UK/Europe and elsewhere as required by the University

Additional Information
Please see the group’s website (previously located in Edinburgh) for more information and in particular the publications webpage:

The following paper is also a good reference for the specifics of this project:
Non-line-of-sight tracking of people at long range, S. Chan, R. E. Warburton, G. Gariepy, J. Leach, D. Faccio, Opt. Express 25, 10109 (2017)

Standard Terms & Conditions

Salary will be on the University’s Research and Teaching Grade, level 7, £34,520 - £38,833 per annum.

This position has funding for up to 18 months in the first instance.

New entrants to the University will be required to serve a probationary period of 6 months.

The successful applicant will be eligible to join the Universities´ Superannuation Scheme. Further information regarding the scheme is available from the Superannuation Officer, who is also prepared to advise on questions relating to the transfer of Superannuation benefits.

All research and related activities, including grants, donations, clinical trials, contract research, consultancy and commercialisation are required to be managed through the University’s relevant processes (e.g. contractual and financial), in accordance with the University Court’s policies.

Vacancy reference: 020272; Closing date: 15 March 2018.

It is the University of Glasgow’s mission to foster an inclusive climate, which ensures equality in our working, learning, research and teaching environment.

We strongly endorse the principles of Athena SWAN, including a supportive and flexible working environment, with commitment from all levels of the organisation in promoting gender equity. The School of Physics and Astronomy is the proud holder of an Athena SWAN Silver Award. Interviewees will be eligible for carer expenses, which will be covered by the School.

The University of Glasgow, charity number SC004401.