Professor Michael MacDonald

Professor of Biomedical Photonics

Physics, School of Science and Engineering

Portrait photo of Mike MacDonald
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+44 (0)1382 386988


Mike MacDonald holds a joint appointment between the Division of Cancer Research in the School of Medicine and the School of Science and Engineering. He is the head of the Biophotonics Research Group in DIT, part of the university-wide Biomedical Photonics and Ultrasound Group (BPUG), jointly headed by Prof Sandy Cochran. Dr MacDonald is an internationally recognised pioneer in his field, whose top 10 published works have an average of over 150 citations each. He joined Dundee in 2007 from the University of St Andrews, received his MSc (1998) and PhD (2000) in Laser Physics at the University of Bern and his BSc from the University of Strathclyde in 1996.

Michael's role within the school is Senior Advisor of Studies (to May 2022).


Dr MacDonald's research has three main foci: lightsheet imaging, cell sorting and opto-acoustics.

Lightsheet imaging

Lightsheet fluorescence imaging is rapidly becoming the must have microscopy of any cell biology lab. My group investigates many different aspects of lightsheet imaging, both applications and technology driven. We have developed high speed scanned lightsheet microscopy (DSLM) suited to imaging chick embryos for developmental physiology studies (see Fig 1), lightsheet tomography for imaging plant root growth as well as FLIM and optoacoustic variants. This work has been funded by the BBSRC, MRC and through commercial contracts and is done in collaboration with Kees Weijer of the College of Life Sciences in Dundee, Lionel Dupuy of the James Hutton Institute and Gail McConnel of Strathclyde University

Cell sorting

There remains an unmet need in both the life sciences and medicine for label free cell sorting. We develop both optical and acoustic passive cell sorting technologies with an aim to finding the next generation of massively scalable label free sorting for application such as bio-processing for cell therapy. This work is done in collaboration with Nik Willoughby of Heriot Watt University and Jo Mountford of Glasgow University and is funded by the SFC and EPSRC.


At both the physical and intellectual interface between optics and acoustics there is a huge opportunity for novel imaging, manipulation and therapeutic devices. On the applications driven side we are developing opto-acoustic imaging and spectroscopy for improved biopsy in the prostate. We are also developing a new level of sophistication in the control of ultrasound through the adoption optical techniques in the programming of large element count ultrasound arrays. This has enabled us to demonstrate the "real sonic screwdriver" and an acoustic "tractor beam" but also give us the capability to manipulate acoustic wavefronts for aberration correction and energy deposition in focussed ultrasound surgery. This work is funded by the EPSRC.