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Dr David Wilby

Dr David Wilby

Dr David Wilby
BSc, PhD

Research Collaborator

Area of research

Animal Vision and Photoreceptor Optics

Office 113
Life Sciences Building,
24 Tyndall Avenue, Bristol BS8 1TQ
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 39 41350


My research is primarily aimed at the optics inherent in animal visual systems. I use digital holographic microscopy (DHM) and finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) simulations among other techniques to investigate how light is channeled and manipulated by the photoreceptors of the retina. The work in my thesis concerns the optics of photoreceptors and the retina in the eyes of birds, who have some of the best performing eyes in the animal kingdom. I am also interested in polarization vision and signalling and colour vision along with other topics in visual ecology.

My PhD supervisors are Dr Nick Roberts (Biological Sciences) and Dr Ruth Oulton (Physics & Electrical Engineering).


2015-18: Postdoctoral research associate, Ecology of Vision Lab, School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol. With: Dr. Nicholas Roberts.

2015: Visiting scientist, Vision group, Department of Biology, Lund University, Sweden. With: Prof. Almut Kelber & Prof. Dan-Eric Nilsson.

2010-15: PhD Student, Ecology of Vision Lab & Bristol Centre for Functional Nanomaterials, University of Bristol. Thesis title: Optics and photoreception in the avian retina. Supervisors: Dr Nicholas Roberts (Biological Sciences) & Dr Ruth Oulton (Physics & Electrical Engineering)

2006-10: BSc Physics, 1st Class Hons, University of Bath.

2008-09: Placement student, Millimetre Wave Technology, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. Supervisor: Dr. Byron Alderman.


  • Taught on Sensory Ecology field course 2016, University of Bristol.
  • Taught Biology MSci paper discussion session Nov 2015, University of Bristol.
  • Supervision of Biology Masters student Oct 2015 – May 2016 & summer project students Aug-Sep 2015.
  • Supervision of Biology laboratory project students, University of Bristol 2014-2015.
  • Course lecturer/tutor/initiator, Introduction to Optics, Bristol Centre for Functional Nanomaterials, 2012-2015.
  • Laboratory demonstrator, 1st year, School of Physics, University of Bristol, 2011-2012.


  • optics
  • vision
  • photonics
  • ecology
  • colour
  • polarization vision


  • FDTD Simulation
  • Electrophysiology
  • Phase Microscopy
  • Spectrophotometry



School of Biological Sciences

Other sites


Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

Networks & contacts

  • Prof. Joseph Corbo & Dr. Matthew Toomey (WUSTL)
  • Prof. Almut Kelber (Lund)
  • Prof. Tom Cronin (UMBC)
  • Dr. Yakir Gagnon (QBI)

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