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Postdoctoral Fellow - Spectroscopy and Holography

Position Details

Position Information

Position Title Postdoctoral Fellow - Spectroscopy and Holography
Posting Number PTAP2288P
Department/Unit Physics and Atmospheric Science
Location Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Job Summary & Key Responsibilities
The Hewitt Bionanophotonics lab in the Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science at Dalhousie University is seeking applicants for a 2-yr post-doctoral opportunity, dedicated to advancing one of two major research areas:

  • Development of a point-of-care diagnostic test for vitamin D detection to address uterine fibroids in Black women.
  • Development of Raman holography for biomedical imaging.


1. Point of care diagnostic for Vitamin D:

We are seeking a post-doctoral fellow to develop a point-of-care diagnostic for Vitamin D, in close collaboration with our multi-national team at Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN, USA), University of West Indies (Cave Hill campus, Barbados) and University of Calgary.

Low Vitamin D levels are known to increase the incidence of Uterine fibroids (UF). Melanin also interferes with vitamin D production. As a consequence, Black women have been found to be 2-3 times more likely to develop UF and experience more severe symptoms. However, the interplay between melanin, vitamin D and fibroids in Black women, especially in Canada and the Caribbean, is lacking. Our multinational study aims to develop a rapid take-home test with sufficient sensitivity and specificity to measure levels of metabolically active Vitamin D: 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25OHVitD3).
With a rapid test in hand those at risk of would be able to measure 25OHVitD3 levels in a manner similar to an insulin test, enabling autonomous management of UF. As a result, conventional and unconventional therapeutic interventions can be assessed for their efficacy. With control of this diagnostic tool, those at risk for developing UF would be well positioned to govern their gynecologic health.

Under the supervision of Dr. Kevin Hewitt, the successful candidate will be responsible for:
  • synthesizing nanoparticles of various types and sizes
  • characterizing the particles using Transmission Electron Microscopy, UV-VIS spectroscopy, Dynamic Light Scattering, Zeta potential measurements
  • developing novel DNA oligonucleotides
  • functionalizing nanoparticles with DNA aptamers, optical reporter molecules
  • analyzing the functionalized nanoparticles using Raman, Fluorescence, FRET, IR, UV – VIS, DLS, and Coherent Raman spectroscopies
  • utilizing gold standard (High Performance Liquid Chromatography and Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent assays) and novel techniques for 25OHVitD3 detection in blood plasma
  • assessing the sensitivity and specificity of alternative 25OHVitD3 detection techniques (especially in the presence of confounding molecules such as Vitamin D2)
  • exploring novel methods including optical, electrical, chemical and other approaches to achieve a limit of Detection of 1 nanomole/liter 25OHVitD3
  • implementing the uncovered methods into a point-of-care diagnostic

2. Development of Raman holography for biomedical imaging:

Breakthroughs in cell biology have quickly followed from the development of new imaging modalities. Traditional microscopy techniques capture two dimensional images; however, holograms enables three-dimensional imaging over cubic millimeter volumes at video rates in one shot with no need for scanning or stacking.
Holographic microscopy with Raman scattered light would create “molecular holography”, a novel technique which would allow for (i) enhanced multiplexing and (ii) one-shot, fast 3D tracking of many biomolecules (proteins, lipids, etc) in real time, creating an exciting new functional imaging modality for biomedical research.
The Hewitt Bionanophotonics lab has demonstrated continuous wave stimulated surface enhanced Raman scattering (cwSESRS), using specialized nanoparticles and continuous wave sources. Having successfully demonstrated a coherent Raman signal, the lab invites applications for a post-doctoral fellow to optimize this intense cwSESRS signal and investigate known differences in lineshape from pulsed SESRS, preparing the technique for application to holography.

The successful candidate will be responsible for:
  • synthesizing silica-coated, gold nanoparticle dimers by refining an in house technique
  • assessing the stimulated, surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy response of the silica nanoparticles. by measuring signal strength with respect to power, wavelength, and sample concentration
  • tuning and maintaining two Ti:Sapphire lasers to achieve the desired outcomes
  • identifying and testing fast detector imaging approaches
  • utilize and improve on in-house holographic reconstruction algorithms to retrieve reconstructed images from the acquired holograms
  • applying the technique to demonstrate cell imaging in a chosen system
  • comparing and contrasting fluorescence and Raman holographic imaging to ascertain where the new technique offers an advantage


In respect to either project, the successful applicant will be provided the opportunity to:
  • write manuscripts resulting from the above work
  • participate or lead grant proposals
  • enroll in innovation and entrepreneurship sandboxes
  • travel off site to disseminate research findings
  • travel to collaborators’ labs to advance the above research goals
  • participate in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion training
  • participate in professional development workshops
  • supervise undergraduate and graduate students
  • collaborate with leading scientists and engineers at partner labs in the US (Vanderbilt University) and the Caribbean (University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus)

We look forward to receiving your application which shall include:
  1. Cover letter (no more than 1 page describing the alignment of the applicant’s experience with either of the areas above)
  2. CV (no more than 5 pages highlighting relevant experience and training)
  3. One sample publication (preferably first author, demonstrating alignment with one of the focus areas of this search)
  4. EDIA statement (no more than 1 page)
Qualifications/Requirements of Position
Applicants must:
  • Hold a PhD in a Science or Engineering field by the start date of the appointment
  • Have significant experience applying spectroscopic methods including coherent or incoherent Raman spectroscopies, Surface Enhanced Raman spectroscopy, Fluorescence, FRET, IR (required)
  • Have experience synthesizing (Gold, Silver, Silica), functionalizing (e.g. with DNA oligonucleotides and Raman reporter molecules) and characterizing (TEM, UV-VIS, DLS) nanoparticles (required)

For the point-of-care diagnostic for Vitamin D the candidate has:
  • experience developing and characterizing DNA oligonucleotides (required)
  • an understanding of blood plasma processing and metabolite detection (asset)
  • experience using HPLC and ELISA for blood metabolite detection (esp. 25OHVitD3) (asset)
  • experience developing and commercializing lateral flow assays using paper fluidics for point-of-case blood diagnostics (asset)

For the Raman holography for bioimaging project the candidate has:
  • experience with Stimulated Raman spectroscopy (required)
  • experience with Coherent Anti-Stokes Raman spectroscopy (asset)
  • experience aligning Ti:Sapphire lasers (asset)
  • familiarity with holographic reconstruction algorithms (asset)

Salary Range/Pay Rate $60,000
Additional Information
Dalhousie University commits to achieving inclusive excellence through continually championing equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. The university encourages applications from Indigenous persons (especially Mi’kmaq), persons of Black/African descent (especially African Nova Scotians), and members of other racialized groups, persons with disabilities, women, and persons identifying as members of 2SLGBTQIA+ communities, and all candidates who would contribute to the diversity of our community. For more information, please visit www.dal.ca/hiringfordiversity.

If you require any support for the purpose of accommodation, such as technical aids or alternative arrangements, please let us know of these needs and how we can be of assistance. Dalhousie University is committed to ensuring all candidates have full, fair, and equitable participation in the hiring process. Our complete Accommodation Policy can be viewed here.
Posting Detail Information

Term of appointment 2 years, anticipated start date of April 1, 2024
Open Date
Close Date 03/01/2024
Open Until Filled No
Quick Link for Direct Access to Posting

Documents Needed to Apply

Required Documents
  1. Cover Letter
  2. Résumé / Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  3. Sample Publication(s)
  4. EDIA Statement
Optional Documents