Position: Lecturer and Director of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Field: Medical physics and medical imaging Organisation: University of Canterbury, Van der Veer Institute for Parkinson's & Brain Research

Richard divides his time between being a lecturer in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Canterbury and being the Director of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Research at the Van der Veer Institute for Parkinson’s & Brain Research in Christchurch.

It is a rapidly developing field and we go from research to real patients in a short span of time.

Richard’s research involves the use of medical resonance imaging (MRI) scanners to make images of the brain. By developing new techniques and technologies for analysing the huge amount of data collected from MRI scanners, Richard hopes to make even better pictures of brain structures and the brain in action. His work has broad applications and aims to help earlier diagnosis of people with brain injuries and diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s disease, slow the progress of such diseases, and use the new techniques to see if current and new treatments are effective.

Richard even sees a time in the not so distant future when these imaging techniques will play a part in the personalisation of treatment for each person, rather than treating everyone with the same disease in the same way, as doctors do at the moment. Along with scientists and doctors around the world, Richard believes this will be the next big thing in medical science, so watch this space!

Richard completed his undergraduate degree and PhD at the University of York in the United Kingdom. Initially he studied solid state physics, which took him across the English Channel to Grenoble in France and later to Cornell University in New York, USA where he was first introduced to the use of MRI techniques to study humans. To begin with, he studied blood vessels and then went on study the brain, where he discovered the great potential the techniques offered for treating disease.

The use of cutting-edge technologies such as computers and superconductors appeals to Richard, and the applied nature of his work is a great source of motivation.

When he isn’t subjecting himself, research volunteers or patients to scans, Richard enjoys walking and running – he has even completed four New York Marathons! His other interests include photography, electronics, computers and reading.

This article is based on information current in 2007.

    Published 23 July 2007