Dr Frederique Denise Gilberte Vanholsbeeck

Lic.Sc.Phys (Bruxelles), PhD (ULB)

Profile Image
Senior Lecturer


I completed my Lic. Sc. Phys. at the Science Faculty of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in 1999 after two years study at the Institut superieur d'architecture intercommunal Victor Horta. In 2001, I was awarded the Scientific Prize of the Belgian Physical Society for the best Masters thesis in physics. The aim of my thesis was to model gas transport in the lungs.

I was awarded my PhD in 2003 for research conducted in the Optics and Acoustics Department of the Applied Sciences Faculty. I was supported by the FRIA. During my PhD I investigated nonlinear optical phenomena in fibers for applications to wavelength-division-multiplexing (WDM) telecommunication systems and to Raman optical amplifiers.

In 2004, I commenced a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Auckland. In 2005, I was appointed to the position of Lecturer in the Department of Physics and later promoted to senior lecturer in 2008 and above the bar in 2013.

Research | Current

My principal research area is now biophotonics, ie, using light to observe and to understand physiological processes. Since 2005, I have been working on an all-fibre real time spectroscopic optical probe (or optrode) and on optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging.

OCT is an interferometric technique that allows high resolution in vivo, non-invasive imaging of human tissues. Such a system uses the coherence properties of a light source to map biological tissues in 3 dimensions. If the light source is sufficiently incoherent, details as small as a few microns can be resolved, ie, a few cells, and it is possible to scan up to a few millimeters in the depth of the tissue under investigation without having to cut or even to touch it.

On top on developing state-of-the-art imaging capabilities, I have successfully worked towards improving the technique itself, in particular through the development of original signal processing methods. These developments have lead us to use OCT to identify tissues of different natures, adding a layer of functional information to the structural image provided by OCT.

In parallel with our work on the OCT systems, we are also working on fluorescence imaging. In particular we are developing modular all fiber fluorescence spectroscopy systems (optrode). I have turned the optrode into a very versatile tool and it has been applied to the measurement of the heart action potential in vivo, to bioremediation monitoring and to water safety testing.  

Recently, I have started to investigate the potential of nonlinear optical imaging.


Postgraduate supervision

Current students

Since 2016  Neelam Hari, MSc student working on Optical coherence elatstography
Since 2016  Rachel Ou, PhD student working on, Near real time quantification of bacteria viability using spectroscopic fluorescence.
Since 2015, Ming Yong, PhD student working on microfluidic dics for bacterial enumaration
Since 2013, Bastian Brauer, PhD student working on optical bioppsies using optical coherence tomography

Former PhD students

2015-2016, Rachel Guo,fluorescence quantification to enumerate bacteria
2009-2013 Norman Lippok Novel polarisation and dispersion concepts for optical coherence tomography
2007-2011 Sairam Iyer Optical Coherence Tomography: Dispersion Compensation and Parametric Imaging
2006-2011 Andy Chen Development and characterization of fiber-based systems for biomedical imaging

Former MSc students

2013 Michael Cheng In situ monitoring of microorganisms using fiber optics
2013 Sean Liew Preliminary design of a scanning laser SHG microscope for collagen imaging
2012-2013 Isha Sharma Spectral Domain Doppler Optical Coherence Tomography for Vibrometry Applications
2012 Arti Patel Optimisation of an all-fibre spectroscopic system for in situ bacteria monitoring
2012 Ivy Au Development of a Second harmonic microscope
2011-2012 Kaidi Liang Development of an all-fibre interferometric dosimeter.
2011 Jason Kuo Monte Carlo simulations to optimise the sensitivity of an optrode system
2010 Anna Yang  All-fibre dispersion compensation OCT system based on an integrated spectral shaper.
2004 Tony P. Goldsmith Cancellation of Raman soliton self-frequency shift by cross-phase modulation

Former Honour students

2015  Neelam Hari, Btech MPIT, Interactive Playground: Beambox
2015  Rachel Ou, Btech MPIT, Near real time quantification of bacteria viability using spectroscopic fluorescence.
2013  Guneet Kaur, Btech MPIT, Studies of Forster resonance energy transfer using an all fibre optical system
2013  Michel Yap,  Btech MPIT, Optical coherence tomography in the assessment of articular cartilage condition
2013  Jennifer Yeh, Btech MPIT,  Ice core layer counting using time-domain OCT
2012  Michael Cheng, PGDipSc, Development and studies of dual optical fibre probe sensor for fluorescence measurement.
2011  Arti Patel, Btech MPIT, Bioluminescence measurement using an all-fibre setup
2010  Jason Kuo, Btech MPIT, Monitoring bacteria tagged with fluorescent proteins by using an optrode
2010  Jenny Lim, Btech MPIT,  Algorithms and method for analysing spectra emitted by bacteria tagged with fluorescent proteins
2010  Hamish Randle, Btech OPTO, Fabrication and optimisation of fused fibre couplers


2013   Ideas Challenge Winner of the SPARK competition
2003   IEEE/LEOS Japan Chapter Young Scientist Award, received at the Optical Amplifiers and Their Applications'2003 topical meeting (July 2003, Otaru, Japan).
2000   Award of the Belgian Physical Society for the best Master thesis in experimental physics.



Since 2015, Leader of the Sensing and Imaging theme for the CoRE in photonics and  quantum technologies.
Since 2014, Stage 3 adviser for the Physics Department.


Areas of expertise

  • Biophotonics
  • Nonlinear optics
  • Fiber optics


Committees/Professional groups/Services

Since 2014         Member of the advisory committee for the PhD in medical imaging
Since 2013         Member of the Exec committee of the faculty of Science
2011–2012         Physics Programme Leader for the Science academic committee, deputy since 2013.
2011–2012         Head of the teaching committee for the Physics Department
2010–2011 and 2014–2015           Elected sub-professorial member of the University Senate
2009–2010         Tuakana coordinator for the Physics Department.
2010–2012         EEO representative for physic
2008–2012         Member of the implementation team of the Women returning to Work project (combining parenting and a career since 2011).
2005–2013         Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) support and contact person for the Physics Department. Organisation of the Girl Into Science as well as Futures events.
Since 2006           Member of the Student Staff Consultation Committee (SSCC) of the Department of Physics.

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Ou, F., McGoverin, C., Swift, S., & Vanholsbeeck, F. (2017). Absolute bacterial cell enumeration using flow cytometry. Journal of applied microbiology, 123 (2), 464-477. 10.1111/jam.13508
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Simon Swift, Cushla McGoverin, Fang Ou
  • Guo, R., McGoverin, C., Swift, S., & Vanholsbeeck, F. (2017). A rapid and low-cost estimation of bacteria counts in solution using fluorescence spectroscopy. Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry, 409 (16), 3959-3967. 10.1007/s00216-017-0347-1
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Cushla McGoverin, Simon Swift
  • Cheuk, M., Anderson, A., Han, J.-C., Lippok, N., Vanholsbeeck, F., Ruddy, B., ... Taberner, A. J. (2017). 4D imaging of cardiac trabeculae contracting in vitro using gated OCT. IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, 64 (1), 218-224. 10.1109/TBME.2016.2553154
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/31774
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Andrew Taberner, June-Chiew Han, Bryan Ruddy, Denis Loiselle, Poul Nielsen
  • Bräuer B, Murdoch, S. G., & Vanholsbeeck, F. (2016). Dispersion measurements in ocular media using a dual-wavelength swept source optical coherence tomography system. Optics letters, 41 (24), 5732-5735. 10.1364/ol.41.005732
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Stuart Murdoch
  • Vanholsbeeck, F. D. (2016). Optical detection of fluorescence. WO/2016/130025 Related URL.
  • Bräuer B, Lippok, N., Murdoch, S. G., & Vanholsbeeck, F. (2015). Simple and versatile long range swept source for optical coherence tomography applications. Journal of Optics, 17 (12)10.1088/2040-8978/17/12/125301
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/31854
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Stuart Murdoch
  • Nguyen, A. D., Duport, F., Bouwens, A., Vanholsbeeck, F., Egrise, D., Van Simaeys, G., ... Gorza, S.-P. (2015). 3D super-resolved in vitro multiphoton microscopy by saturation of excitation. Optics express, 23 (17), 22667-22675. 10.1364/oe.23.022667
  • Tao, W., McGoverin, C., Lydiard, S., Song, Y., Cheng, M., Swift, S., ... Vanholsbeeck, F. (2015). Accurate and in situ monitoring of bacterial concentration using a real time all-fibre spectroscopic device. Paper presented at 5th Asia-Pacific Optical Sensors Conference (APOS), Jeju, SOUTH KOREA. 20 May - 22 May 2015. FIFTH ASIA-PACIFIC OPTICAL SENSORS CONFERENCE. (pp. 5). 10.1117/12.2184388
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Simon Swift, Naresh Singhal, Cushla McGoverin


Contact details

Primary location

SCIENCE CENTRE 303 - Bldg 303
Level 5, Room 502
New Zealand

Web links