Photo of Dr Laura Harkness-Brennan

Dr Laura Harkness-Brennan PhD MPhys PGCert MInstP AFHEA

Senior Lecturer Physics


Gamma-ray Imaging

I have established a new research programme to develop a real-time dosimetric system for molecular radiotherapy treatments. The semiconductor detector system is targeted at personalised cancer treatment plans, which will improve quality of life, reduce costs, increase the existing market size and enable changes in treatment planning policies, as desired by leading clinical experts and required by new EU legislation from 2018.

I also lead the development of gamma-ray imaging using Compton camera systems. In this interdisciplinary research, I apply expertise in advanced digital pulse processing, algorithm development, Monte-Carlo modelling and image reconstruction techniques to maximise the efficacy of the systems for these applications. I am actively involved in the following projects:
• ProSPECTus: for low dose imaging in medicine
• Imaging for prompt emissions during proton cancer therapy for geometric and dosimetric verification
• GRI: portable imaging systems for nuclear forensics
• GRI+: a three-dimensional integrated gamma-ray and vision system for imaging in nuclear decommissioning

Gamma-ray Spectroscopy

I am coordinator of the PSA working group for the Advanced Gamma Tracking Array (AGATA), which is a prestigious, collaborative European effort to build the ultimate gamma-ray spectrometer for nuclear structure physics experiments.

I am a member of the Advanced Implantation Detector Array (AIDA) collaboration, a system situated at RIKEN for beta decay studies. In order to exploit AIDA in future beta decay studies at GSI, I have designed and am leading the development of a novel segmented germanium detector (SIGMA) to precisely correlate gamma and beta decays of exotic nuclei. This could potentially revolutionise the techniques of gamma-ray tracking and spectroscopy. I supported the experimental campaign at the Isolde Decay Station (IDS) and led the commissioning and first use of a BEGe detector in beta decay studies of odd-mass isotopes, at ISOLDE.

I have participated in the superheavy elements research programme (Herzberg P.I.), when I joined the ALBEGA, TASCA and SAGE collaborations. In future work, I will utilise very high resolution germanium detectors in x-ray fingerprinting of superheavy elements. I will also support the exploitation of AlBeGa at GSI.

PhD Student Supervision

2013-2016: Amina Patel, 1st supervisor, EPSRC
2014-present: Kevin Tree, 1st supervisor, EPSRC
2015-present: Adam Caffrey, 1st supervisor, STFC
2015-present: Lucy McAreavey, 1st supervisor, STFC
2015-present: Ellis Rintoul, 2nd supervisor, EPSRC
2016-present: Fiona Pearce, 1st supervisor, GTA
2017-present: Fraser Holloway, 1st supervisor, STFC
2017-present: Jacob Heery, 2nd supervisor, STFC
2017-present: Olivia Voyce, 1st supervisor, EPSRC
2017-present: Hamed Alshammari, 1st supervisor

Research Group Membership
Research Grants
  • Mu2e: a proposal to extend the sensitivity to charged lepton flavour violation by 4 orders of magnitude
  • Nuclear Physics Consolidated Grant
  • A three-dimensional integrated gamma-ray and vision system
  • Imaging of prompt gamma emissions during proton cancer therapy for geometric and dosimetric verification
  • Quantitative SPECT for dosimetry of 131I molecular radiotherapy
  • Development of the Segmented Inverted Coaxial Germanium (SIGMA) Detector for Enhanced Gamma-Ray Spectroscopy and Imaging

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