COSMIC post-grad wins SUPA prize for E. coli study

Alexander McVey
Alexander McVey

Alexander McVey, a post-graduate student based in COSMIC (the School's Collaborative Optical Spectroscopy Micromanipulation & Imaging Centre), received second prize for his presentation of preliminary results from his PhD research, which is investigating the mechanisms behind the development of drug resistance in bacteria such as E. coli.

At the conference, Alexander's group also presented the results of the optimisation of its CARS system (coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering), using polystyrene beads and the preliminary results of E. coli samples.

Imaging bacteria

CARS is an innovative method of laser-based microscopy that was developed to study E. coli biofilm formation. It is a powerful, nonlinear optical imaging technique that uses the phenomenon of Raman scattering to specifically target a chemical bond within a sample to produce a light signal of different frequency to the incident laser beams. By targeting specific chemical bonds within the sample, the CARS method produces significantly less background signal than other laser microscopy methods, enhancing the quality of the image that can be obtained.

Alexander is currently working on developing CARS as a new method for imaging bacteria in a non-invasive fashion and without the need to introduce any external tags. As part of the effort to develop CARS, the group has been involved in a major new collaboration with Glasgow-based M Squared Lasers and the University's Division of Pathway Medicine.


INSPIRE is a SUPA (Scottish Universities Physics Alliance) led initiative designed to promote collaboration between physics academia and industry in Scotland. INSPIRE aims to provide studentships, staff exchanges and networking events, where physics and life sciences meet. The scheme is funded by the Scottish Funding Council Horizon Fund.

At the INSPIRE conference, all current SUPA postgraduate students who are funded through the INSPIRE programme can present their work to date.