A new funded PhD to start early 2015

New ways of seeing the world: Using the polarization of light to enhance visual contrast and object visibility

A main theme of the research in the Ecology of Vision lab is to understand how animals use the polarization of light to their advantage.  Animals use polarization for secret channels of communication, a way of breaking camouflage and for seeing further in scattering visual environments. 

Polarization information can propagate further than intensity of colour information through scattering media, such as turbid water or dust in the air. We have shown some animals (fish and larval dragonflies) can use their polarization vision to improve underwater visibility by cutting out polarized scatter. This is much the same way as we cut out polarized reflections by using Polaroid sunglasses. At Bristol, we use a polarization camera system to film the polarization information in our visual environment.

We currently have a funded PhD place on offer starting early 2015 to work on applying animal inspired principles of seeing polarization information to polarization image processing.  There are three principle aims for this PhD project:

1) To quantitatively understand the propagation of polarized light and object contrast enhancement in both scattering and low light level visual environments.

2) To develop a computational framework for how animals use polarized light to de-scatter and de-haze a visual scene.

3) To create new ways of polarization image processing for contrast enhancement in airborne / underwater visual search. 

This PhD is restricted to UK students and is funded by EPSRC and an Industrial CASE award from DSTL.

The successful candidate should have a background in computer vision and image processing and a strong interest in biology. If you are a student (MSc or final year Undergraduate) with an excellent academic track record from a top-rank institution, and would like more information, please email nicholas.roberts@bristol.ac.uk  or check http://www.ecologyofvision.com

To apply, please follow the instructions on



CLOSING DATE for applications is 4pm on 7th Nov 2014. A short list of candidates will be drawn up after this date for interview.