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Lien Smeesters and Yunfeng Nie join B-PHOT professor team


The professor team of B-PHOT is being reinforced with two research professors. Lien Smeesters and Yunfeng Nie will be professors from October 1st, 2023.

"I was thrilled to get the exciting news", says Prof. Nie. "It is definitely a big encouragement and acknowledgement of my work in the past five years." Prof. Smeesters confirms: "I am super excited to start this new position, it’s a great recognition of my research. I am sincerely grateful for the trust and confidence in my work, while also being thankful to my supervisors and husband for their continuous support and to have given me the opportunity to grow towards this position."

Yunfeng Nie Lien Smeesters in lab B PHOT

Prof. Nie continues: "With this new position, I feel more motivated as I can focus on what I started just three years ago, in developing opto-digital co-design methods for miniaturized/compact optical instruments. Meanwhile, I also feel a little stressed as I will need to pursue more funding to support the related research."

Nevertheless, Prof. Nie believes persistence and action can always lead to the goal: "I am fortunate to work with a group of helpful colleagues in B-PHOT that team up together to promote photonics research and innovations."

"I aspire to combine excellent education with multidisciplinary high-impact research and industrial valorisation with societal impact”, Prof. Smeesters concludes. Both in research and education, she hopes to convey her passion for science and technology, and to inspire others: “Within this new position, I am looking forward to enhancing collaborations, while building up my research team and setting up novel research projects. I particularly pursue driving the state-of-the-art spectroscopic sensors enabling multi-defect multi-modal sensing, while enhancing the illumination and detection system with advanced freeform optics, and boosting industrial photonics innovation."

Yunfeng Nie

Yunfeng Nie is a professor with the Brussels Photonics (B-PHOT) group of Vrije Universiteit Brussel. She obtained her Master’s degree in Optical Engineering in 2012 at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in China. She then worked as an optical researcher in CAS. Her work responsibilities included optical design, modelling, fabrication and assembly of various hyperspectral-imaging systems. In 2018, she pursued her PhD degree in the topic of ‘advanced freeform optical imaging system’ with the greatest distinction from VUB under EU’s FP7 Marie Curie Programme ‘ ADOPSYS ’, with two research visits in Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain (2015) and Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Germany (2016).

Since then, Prof. Nie has been actively involved in many national/international fundamental and applied research projects (FWO, EU, VLAIO) and industrial projects using developed freeform optical design methods for early disease diagnosis of Alzheimer’s diseases ( SensApp ) and other biomedical imaging systems. From 2020 onwards, she is working towards establishing an independent research track under a FWO senior postdoctoral fellowship. Her research interests include freeform optical design algorithms, imaging spectrometers, computational optics and biomedical imaging (microscope, endoscope, etc.).

Yunfeng Nie in lab B PHOT
Lien Smeesters in lab B PHOT

Lien Smeesters

Lien Smeesters (13-01-1989) is a professor at B-PHOT Brussels Photonics, at the Faculty of Engineering of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). Prof. Smeesters graduated as a photonics engineer from the Master in Engineering Sciences: Photonics, in 2012. She obtained her PhD in Engineering Sciences at VUB in 2016, for her work on ‘Improving food safety with optical screening'. This doctoral degree was granted with greatest distinction and unanimous congratulations of the jury. She continued her research as a postdoctoral researcher within B-PHOT Brussels Photonics, and started as a professor in October 2023.

Prof. Smeesters focuses on multidisciplinary research in the field of optical design and optical spectroscopy, pursuing the development of novel spectroscopic detection systems for multi-defect multi-modal sensing. Prof. Smeesters particularly pursues tackling the full supply chain, starting from the optimization of the spectroscopic sensing technology, and the advanced optical design of the illumination and detection system, benefitting from freeform optics, to a proof-of-concept demonstrator. Her research has been recognised with several awards, including the Photonics21 Student Innovation Award and the BiR&D Award for Science and Technology. Prof. Smeesters is coordinating and working on applied-oriented research projects in collaboration with industry, via bilateral collaborations, and within the European Commission-funded PhotonHub programme.

B-PHOT welcomes Lien and Yunfeng to the professor team and wishes them both good luck!

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