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Raphaël Turcotte

Senior Postdoctoral Research Assistant in Biophotonics

I am an engineer interested in the development and application of novel intravital optical technologies.

Following an undergraduate degree in performance studies at the Conservatoire de Musique de Québec, I obtained a BEng in Engineering Physics and MSc in Biophotonics from Université Laval (2011). My master’s thesis focused on the use of polarimetric nonlinear microscopy to identify early biomarkers of altered myelin health, a hallmark of multiple sclerosis, and also yielded a patent for passive adaptive correction of system-induced polarisation aberrations.

I then joined the Advanced Microscopy Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School working as a graduate research fellow in the group of Prof Charles Lin. In my doctoral studies, I developed new laser microsurgery and imaging technologies to study blood stem cells. By combining laser ablation, optical tweezers, and multiphoton microscopy, we demonstrated the direct transplantation of stem cells into the cortical bone marrow of live mice for tracking both their early proliferation in vivo and long-term regenerative potential.

In 2015, I moved to Janelia Research Campus, Howard Hugues Medical Institute, to work with Prof Na Ji on super-resolution imaging of the living brain. For this postdoctoral work, I achieved imaging of dendrites and their spines with increased spatial resolution at speed sufficient for functional imaging using structured illumination microscopy, adaptive optics, and a motion-correction reconstruction algorithm.

In January 2018, I joined the teams of Profs Nigel Emptage (Pharmacology) and Martin Booth (Engineering Science) at the University of Oxford, where I continue to develop optical imaging technology for neuroscience. I am focusing on advancing a minimally-invasive micro-endoscopic technology for deep-brain imaging.

Along with my research on neuroscience and haematopoietic stem cells, I have a strong interest in multiscale biomechanics of arteries. I have collaborated extensively with Prof Yanhang Zhang from Boston University to use multiphoton microscopy together with mechanical testing to link the microstructure of extracellular matrix constituents to tissue-level properties.

As a scientist expert in live animal experimental models, I am interested in the ethical aspect of my work, and was involved with the institutional oversight committee for animal care and use at Janelia. I have been striving throughout my career to improve biological observations by minimizing experimental impact on animals through technological innovation.


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