First Lord Selborne PhD Scholarship awarded in Optoelectronics

We are delighted to announce that the first Lord Selborne PhD Scholarship has been awarded. The Lord Selborne PhD Scholarship was set up in memory of our former Chairman, Lord Selborne (1940-2021). Lord Selborne was the Chairman of Rank Prize for nearly 30 years, retiring only in 2015He led the organisation through its formative years with great wisdom and foresight as well as charm and charisma. His legacy is the universally high esteem in which Rank Prize is held today.

Professor Hannah Smithson (University of Oxford) has won funding to host a PhD studentship in vision science, starting in the academic year 2024-2025. Her selected doctoral student will investigate the arrangement of photoreceptor cells in the trichromatic retina, receiving training in techniques from optics, psychophysics and computational modelling which will equip them for an exciting future in vision science research.

Hannah explains more about the project here:

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Colour vision in humans is supported by three classes of spectrally-selective cone photoreceptors contained in the trichromatic retina. It is less commonly discussed that these same cone photoreceptors support all visual functions in daytime light levels, including responses to grey-scale spatial patterns.

What is the optimal arrangement of photoreceptors in a trichromatic retina to achieve both spatial and spectral discriminations? This problem has occupied designers of imaging sensor chips for decades, and there are different engineering solutions, constrained by manufacturing processes and desired outcome. This interdisciplinary project investigates the question within a biological imaging system: the living human eye.

The first part of the project is to develop reliable tools to map the human trichromatic mosaic in vivo, using a high-resolution retinal imaging system. The second part of the project uses empirical techniques to measure visual performance with stimuli delivered directly to the cone mosaic. Finally, computational modelling, using the Image System Engineering Toolbox for Biology (ISETBIO), will be used to predict performance under known assumptions, which can then be compared to the empirical data.

Professor Hannah Smithson, University of Oxford

The next Lord Selborne Scholarship will be offered by the Nutrition committee. The call will open in the summer.