Role in lab – Post-doc

Research Interests – I am interested in the properties of light as it passes through biological media, and particularly as it penetrates neural tissue. I am very interested to work at the intersection of optical physics and neuroscience, developing new and powerful ways to see how the brain works. More specifically, I develop ways in which traditional approaches in optical physics can be retooled for neuroscience.  One example of this is shaping light to form holograms within the brain using Spatial Light Modulators (SLM).  By illuminating just the brain cells that we are interested in, we can activate them and learn about their roles within the brain’s broader networks. In another case, I have used optical trapping to apply physical forces to the inner ears of zebrafish larvae, tricking them into thinking that they are accelerating. This, combined with Selective Planar Microscopy (SPIM), has revealed patterns of activity in the brain that are responsible for vestibular perception. 

Current project 

I currently use optical traps to manipulate otoliths (ear stones) in different directions and frequencies aiming to map their complex network in the brain.

 Published papers 

·        “Scattering of Sculpted Light in Intact Brain Tissue, with implications for Optogenetics”, Itia A. Favre-Bulle, Daryl Preece, Timo A. Nieminen, Lucy A. Heap, Ethan K. Scott & Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop, published in Scientific Reports, Vol. 5, Art. 11501, June 2015.

·         “Computational modelling of scattering of a focused beam in zebrafish brain tissue”, Itia A. Favre-Bulle, Timo A. Nieminen, Daryl Preece, Lucy A. Heap, Ethan K. Scott, and Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop. In Optics in the Life Sciences, OSA Technical Digest (online), p. JT3A.34 (Optical Society of America, 2015).

·        “Optical Trapping of Otoliths Drives Vestibular Behaviours in Larval Zebrafish”, Itia A. Favre-Bulle, Alexander B. Stilgoe, Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop, Ethan K. Scott, Nature Communications, Vol. 8, Art. 630, September 2017.

·        “Ultrasensitive rotating photonic probes for complex biological systems”, Shu Zhang, Lachlan J. Gibson, Alexander B. Stilgoe, Itia A. Favre-Bulle, Timo A. Nieminen and Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop, Optica, Vol. 4, Issue 9, pp. 1103-1108, August 2017.

·         “Hypothalamic Projections to the Optic Tectum in Larval Zebrafish”, Lucy A. Heap, Gilles C. Vanwalleghem, Andrew W. Thompson, Itia Favre-Bulle, Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop and Ethan K. Scott, Frontiers in Neuroanatomy, Vol. 11, Art. 135, January 2017.

·        "Optical Tweezers Bring Micromachines to Biology," I.A. Favre-Bulle, S. Zhang, A.V. Kashchuk, I.C.D. Lenton, L.J. Gibson, A.B. Stilgoe, T.A. Nieminen, and H. Rubinsztein-Dunlop, Optics & Photonics News 29(4), 40-47 (2018)