University of Queensland neuroscience researchers recognised for their work at the Eureka Awards

UQ’s Optical Physics in Neuroscience team – Associate Professor Ethan Scott, Dr Itia Favre-Bulle and Professor Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop


The University of Queensland’s (UQ) Optical Physics Neuroscience team won the 2018 UNSW Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research.

UQ School of Biomedical Sciences researcher Associate Professor Ethan Scott is part of the Optical Physics in Neuroscience team, which worked with the cross-institutional CF Air team for their respective work in devising cutting-edge methods for studying how our brains detect gravity and motion, and for uncovering how bacterial pathogens are transferred between cystic fibrosis (CF) patients.

He said he believed their research would lead to a much better understanding of how movement affects the brain.

“We’re interested in how the brain processes movement, but it’s difficult to study activity in a moving brain.

“In our interdisciplinary project, using the physics technique of optical trapping, we’ve used a laser to move the ear stones in zebrafish model, producing a sensation of movement and eliciting behavioural adjustments, all without moving the animal.

“By tricking an animal into thinking it’s moving while the brain remains stationary, we can now use advanced microscopy to study the cells and circuits across the brain responsible for motion processing for the first time,” A/Prof Scott said.