Dr Ashley Lyons

Published: 4 February 2022

Quantum and Computational Imaging

Ashley Lyons Photo

Dr Ashley Lyons

School of Physics and Astronomy

Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellowship, 30 Nov 2021 – 30 Nov 2026

Area of Research

 Quantum and Computational Imaging

Why did you choose to pursue a fellowship in your research career?

The key reasons for me were the ability to explore my own ideas independently and build my own collaborations as well as being able to start forming my own research team. By the time I got my fellowship I’d already had 2 years of academic freedom but it’s really difficult to build the solid funding background that you need to start your career in this amount of time. Having the 5 years of a fellowship really opens up a lot more opportunities.

Why work at the University of Glasgow?

We have an excellent culture here of researchers working in a similar field to me.  There’s a lot of fantastic work going on in Physics & Astronomy building new ways to image using quantum entanglement, plenty of people working in Engineering on how to build new types of quantum light sensors, and an excellent Computing Science department which has really helped me understand a lot more about machine learning. Glasgow is also home to QuantIC, the UK hub for quantum enhanced imaging, this gives me a fantastic opportunity to engage more with like-minded colleagues across the country.

How would you describe your research in 20 words or less?

I’m developing a fundamentally new type of 3D vision sensor inspired by biology and the way our brains work.

What is your research highlight?

For me this is seeing how one of the papers I wrote during my PhD has gone on to impact the wider academic community. I developed a new high precision sensing method using quantum interference that then went on to become the basis of a couple of additional grants which brought in new PhDs and postdocs not just to our group, but some of our collaborators as well. A few of my colleagues are now using this technique to measure really small effects relating to relativistic physics which is super cool!

What do you look for in a collaboration?

Someone I can build new ideas with. This might be a new application for a sensing method I’ve developed before or a new challenge to try and find a solution to. It always helps to talk to people of completely different backgrounds who have a different way of seeing even my own research.

How do you see your research impacting society?

The key feature of the sensors I’m trying to develop is very fast reaction speeds which will be orders of magnitude faster than a conventional camera. They’ll also be able to perform simple decision making tasks like recognising objects using artificial neural networks. One of the places I see this making a huge difference is in driverless cars, where the quicker you can detect and react to a hazard, the better the chances are of avoiding potentially life-threatening collisions.

What next?

I’m starting to recruit my first PhD students and am applying for funding for postdocs and some equipment, so right now it’s all about building the infrastructure I’ll need for the rest of my fellowship. I’m also going to be moving into the University’s new Advanced Research Centre in the next few months, the chance to build up a new lab from scratch is always exciting!

First published: 4 February 2022