Biomedical research has been transformed by techniques that generate a flood of high-dimensional data. Although extraordinary progress has been made in using statistical or machine-learning methods to reveal predictive patterns, it is the discovery of causal mechanisms that is the gold standard for scientific and medical progress.

To go from patterns to mechanisms, this research group combines physical models with multivariate statistical techniques, applying our methods to living systems at multiple scales, from cell biology to brain dynamics. Through a dialogue between biological questions, physical theory and statistical methods we show how the full potential of high-dimensional datasets can be realised.

Our research projects

Current PhD projects include:  

  • Inferring decision-making events in cell lineage trees (Caleb Lau) 
  • Extracting cell lineage trees from time-lapse microscopy (Khelina Fedorchuk) 
  • Probing brain dynamics using neural population models (Agus Hartoyo) 
  • Understanding the mechanisms of 1/f noise in MEG data (Rick Evertz).

We also have collaborations with the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (biomolecular networks) and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (Single T cell analysis).

Our team

Are you an Honours student?

Honours projects are available to study high-dimensional data analysis problems in biomedicine, particularly in cell biology. Prospective students should be motivated to learn statistical analysis and biophysical modelling and be well-versed in a programming language. Email the Optical Sciences Centre team on for more details on these or check out more project opportunities in other research areas. 


  • ARC LIEF Grant
  • ARC Future Fellowship
  • ARC Linkage Grant

Explore our other research programs

Contact the Optical Sciences Centre

There are many ways to engage with us. If your organisation is dealing with a complex problem, get in touch to discuss how we can work together to provide solutions. Call us on +61 3 9214 8096 or email

Contact us