Dr Frederique Denise Gilberte Vanholsbeeck

Lic.Sc.Phys (Bruxelles), PhD (ULB)

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Associate Professor
Assoc Dean - Diversity & Incl


I completed my Lic. Sc. Phys. at the Science Faculty of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in 1999 after two years study at the Institut superieur d'architecture intercommunal Victor Horta. In 2001, I was awarded the Scientific Prize of the Belgian Physical Society for the best Masters thesis in physics. The aim of my thesis was to model gas transport in the lungs.

I was awarded my PhD in 2003 for research conducted in the Optics and Acoustics Department of the Applied Sciences Faculty. I was supported by the FRIA. During my PhD I investigated nonlinear optical phenomena in fibers for applications to wavelength-division-multiplexing (WDM) telecommunication systems and to Raman optical amplifiers.

In 2004, I commenced a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Auckland. In 2005, I was appointed to the position of Lecturer in the Department of Physics and later promoted to senior lecturer in 2008 and above the bar in 2013.

Research | Current

My principal research area is now biophotonics, ie, using light to observe and to understand physiological processes. Since 2005, I have been working on an all-fibre real time spectroscopic optical probe (or optrode) and on optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging.

OCT is an interferometric technique that allows high resolution in vivo, non-invasive imaging of human tissues. Such a system uses the coherence properties of a light source to map biological tissues in 3 dimensions. If the light source is sufficiently incoherent, details as small as a few microns can be resolved, ie, a few cells, and it is possible to scan up to a few millimeters in the depth of the tissue under investigation without having to cut or even to touch it.

On top on developing state-of-the-art imaging capabilities, I have successfully worked towards improving the technique itself, in particular through the development of original signal processing methods. These developments have lead us to use OCT to identify tissues of different natures, adding a layer of functional information to the structural image provided by OCT.

In parallel with our work on the OCT systems, we are also working on fluorescence imaging. In particular we are developing modular all fiber fluorescence spectroscopy systems (optrode). I have turned the optrode into a very versatile tool and it has been applied to the measurement of the heart action potential in vivo, to bioremediation monitoring and to water safety testing.  

Recently, I have started to investigate the potential of nonlinear optical imaging.


Postgraduate supervision

Current students

Since 2019  Joni White, PhD student working on the use of eukaryotic extracellular vesicles for communication to the resident and pathogenic microbiome
Since 2019  Ayomikun Esan, PhD student working on microfluidic and spectroscpic fluorescence to detect bacteria
Since 2018  Matthew Goodwin, PhD student working on optical coherence tomography for early detection of ostheoarthritis
Since 2018  Mykola Zlygostiev, PhD student working on optical coherence tomography for optical biopsies
Since 2018  Abi Thampi, PhD student working on optical coherence tomography to measure meat quality
Since 2017  Magdalena Urbanska, PhD, student working on optical coherence elastography
Since 2016 James Hope, PhD student working on Development of a natural control
interface for neural-prostheses
Since 2016  Rachel Ou, PhD student working on Near real time quantification of bacteria viability using spectroscopic fluorescence.
Since 2015  Claire Honney, PhD student working on Fluorescence methods for microbial quantification.

Former PhD students

2013-2017, Bastian Brauer, Source development and dispersion measurements in optical coherence tomography
2015-2016, Ming Yong, Microfluidic dics for bacterial enumaration
2015-2016, Rachel Guo, Fluorescence quantification to enumerate bacteria
2009-2013 Norman Lippok Novel polarisation and dispersion concepts for optical coherence tomography
2007-2011 Sairam Iyer Optical Coherence Tomography: Dispersion Compensation and Parametric Imaging
2006-2011 Andy Chen Development and characterization of fiber-based systems for biomedical imaging

Former MSc students

2016  Neelam Hari, Illuminating the vitreous for shear wave optical coherence elastography: a feasibility study
2013 Michael Cheng In situ monitoring of microorganisms using fiber optics
2013 Sean Liew Preliminary design of a scanning laser SHG microscope for collagen imaging
2012-2013 Isha Sharma Spectral Domain Doppler Optical Coherence Tomography for Vibrometry Applications
2012 Arti Patel Optimisation of an all-fibre spectroscopic system for in situ bacteria monitoring
2012 Ivy Au Development of a Second harmonic microscope
2011-2012 Kaidi Liang Development of an all-fibre interferometric dosimeter.
2011 Jason Kuo Monte Carlo simulations to optimise the sensitivity of an optrode system
2010 Anna Yang  All-fibre dispersion compensation OCT system based on an integrated spectral shaper.
2004 Tony P. Goldsmith Cancellation of Raman soliton self-frequency shift by cross-phase modulation

Former Honour students

2018 Joni White, BSc honors, Using optical methods to monitor bacteria viability
2017 Matthew Brown, Btech MPIT, Using polarisation-sensitive optical coherence tomography and mechanical indentation to assess cartilage degeneration in the bovine model of early osteoarthritis
2015  Neelam Hari, Btech MPIT, Interactive Playground: Beambox
2015  Rachel Ou, Btech MPIT, Near real time quantification of bacteria viability using spectroscopic fluorescence.
2013  Guneet Kaur, Btech MPIT, Studies of Forster resonance energy transfer using an all fibre optical system
2013  Michel Yap,  Btech MPIT, Optical coherence tomography in the assessment of articular cartilage condition
2013  Jennifer Yeh, Btech MPIT,  Ice core layer counting using time-domain OCT
2012  Michael Cheng, PGDipSc, Development and studies of dual optical fibre probe sensor for fluorescence measurement.
2011  Arti Patel, Btech MPIT, Bioluminescence measurement using an all-fibre setup
2010  Jason Kuo, Btech MPIT, Monitoring bacteria tagged with fluorescent proteins by using an optrode
2010  Jenny Lim, Btech MPIT,  Algorithms and method for analysing spectra emitted by bacteria tagged with fluorescent proteins
2010  Hamish Randle, Btech OPTO, Fabrication and optimisation of fused fibre couplers


2017   Dean’s Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching
2017   Highly Commended Miriam Dell Excellence in Science Mentoring Award from the Association for Women in the Sciences (AWIS)
2017 Velocity Innovation Challenge Winner
2013   Ideas Challenge Winner of the SPARK competition
2003   IEEE/LEOS Japan Chapter Young Scientist Award, received at the Optical Amplifiers and Their Applications'2003 topical meeting (July 2003, Otaru, Japan).
2000   Award of the Belgian Physical Society for the best Master thesis in experimental physics.



Since 2018 Theme leader for Future materials and technologies in the Faculty of Science
Since 2016 Member of the executive committee of the CoRE in photonics and  quantum technologies.
2015-2017 Leader of the Sensing and Imaging theme for the CoRE in photonics and  quantum technologies.
2014-2016 Stage 3 adviser for the Physics Department.

Areas of expertise

  • Biophotonics
  • Nonlinear optics
  • Fiber optics


Committees/Professional groups/Services

Since 2014         Member of the advisory committee for the PhD in medical imaging
Since 2013         Member of the Exec committee of the faculty of Science
2011–2012         Physics Programme Leader for the Science academic committee, deputy since 2013.
2011–2012         Head of the teaching committee for the Physics Department
2010–2011 and 2014–2015           Elected sub-professorial member of the University Senate
2009–2010         Tuakana coordinator for the Physics Department.
2010–2012         EEO representative for physic
2008–2012         Member of the implementation team of the Women returning to Work project (combining parenting and a career since 2011).
2005–2013         Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) support and contact person for the Physics Department. Organisation of the Girl Into Science as well as Futures events.
Since 2006           Member of the Student Staff Consultation Committee (SSCC) of the Department of Physics.

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Hope, J., Vanholsbeeck, F., & McDavid, A. (2018). Drive and measurement electrode patterns for electrode impedance tomography (EIT) imaging of neural activity in peripheral nerve. BIOMEDICAL PHYSICS & ENGINEERING EXPRESS, 4 (6)10.1088/2057-1976/aadff3
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: James Hope
  • Hope, J., Braeuer, B., Amirapu, S., McDaid, A., & Vanholsbeeck, F. (2018). Extracting morphometric information from rat sciatic nerve using optical coherence tomography. Journal of biomedical optics, 23 (11), 1-14. 10.1117/1.jbo.23.11.116001
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Satya Amirapu, James Hope
  • Hope, J., Vanholsbeeck, F., & McDaid, A. J. (2018). The specific impedance of the intra-fascicle environment obtained via nerve fibre models. Paper presented at XXII Congress of the International Society of Electrophysiology and Kinesiology, Dublin, Ireland. 30 June - 2 July 2018. Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Andrew McDaid, James Hope
  • Kolenderska, S. M., Bräuer B, & Vanholsbeeck, F. (2018). Dispersion mapping as a simple postprocessing step for Fourier domain Optical Coherence Tomography data. Scientific reports, 8 (1)10.1038/s41598-018-27552-5
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Sylwia Kolenderska
  • Goodwin, M., Bräuer B, Lewis, S., Thambyah, A., & Vanholsbeeck, F. (2018). Quantifying birefringence in the bovine model of early osteoarthritis using polarisation-sensitive optical coherence tomography and mechanical indentation. Scientific reports, 8 (1)10.1038/s41598-018-25982-9
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/43083
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Ashvin Thambyah
  • Benhadou, F., Schnebert, B., Vanholsbeeck, F., Njimi, H., Martens, M., Vanderwinden, J.-M., & del Marmol, V. (2018). Quantitative infrared thermography in hidradenitis suppurativa: A pilot study. Paper presented at 7th Congress of the European-Hidradenitis-Suppurativa-Foundation (EHSF), Rotterdam, NETHERLANDS. 7 February - 9 February 2018. EXPERIMENTAL DERMATOLOGY. (pp. 1).
  • Hope, J., Vanholsbeeck, F., & McDaid, A. (2018). A model of electrical impedance tomography implemented in nerve-cuff for neural-prosthetics control. Physiological measurement, 39 (4)10.1088/1361-6579/aab73a
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Andrew McDaid, James Hope
  • Honney, C., McGoverin, C., Choi, S., Jonmohamadi, Y., Vanholsbeeck, F., & Swift, S. (2017). There is a spike, but is there a point? Can live cell staining tell us more about bacteria than just bacterial viability?. Paper presented at New Zealand Microbiological Society (NZMS) Annual Conference: Our well-being& our microbes, Auckland, New Zealand. 20 November - 23 November 2017. Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Simon Swift, Claire Honney, Cushla McGoverin


Contact details

Primary office location

SCIENCE CENTRE 303 - Bldg 303
New Zealand

Web links