Richard took an undergraduate master’s in physics at the University of Edinburgh and then spent 8 months working for the crofting department at the Scottish Executive. This brush with office work convinced him to go back to experimental science and he enrolled for the postgrad masters in Photonics and Optoelectronic devices which was run jointly between St Andrews and Heriot-Watt University. On the basis of his time at Heriot-Watt he took a PhD position researching optical fibre based hydrogen sensors followed by six years of post doc positions in a variety of laser based manufacturing projects. He made the jump from post-doc to academic by winning an internal fellowship with the Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences.
Over his career his research has always been applied and has always been sponsored by and working in close collaboration with industry. With projects aimed specifically to develop industrially relevant process and transfer them to real world application. This industry connection is evidenced by his role with the Association of Industrial Laser Users, the Photonics Leadership Group, and his most recent role as the Academic lead for the precision laser Application Labs at the National Robotarium.
‘I have always been interested in applied science where it is so easy to see the issue, the solution and the impact your work has. Whether this is in optical sensing, laser based manufacturing or industrial robotics the real pleasure comes from being able to solve a real problem; going all the way from idea to practical implementation.”