Previous group photos: [2015] [2016]

Prof. Andrew Forbes

Distinguished Professor

Andrew received his PhD (1998) from the University of Natal, and subsequently spent several years working as an applied laser physicist, first for the South African Atomic Energy Corporation and then later in a private laser company where he was Technical Director. Andrew sits on several international conference committees, chairs the SPIE international conference on Laser Beam Shaping and is Chair of the OSA’s Holography and Diffractive Optics group. He is a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa and a Fellow of SPIE.

Dr. Adam Valles

Research Fellow

Adam is a postdoctoral fellow with a BSc in telecom engineering from the ‘Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya’ (UPC), where he realized he wanted to explore deeper into the quantum optics wormhole. He obtained his MSc in photonics from the ‘Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona’ (UAB) and ‘Universitat de Barcelona’ (UB), and his PhD in photonics from the ‘Institut de Ciències Fotòniques’ (ICFO). His PhD was focused in studying the relation between entanglement, Bell’s inequalities and coherence, by performing several experiments based in quantum information and nonlinear optics. He is also interested in expand his research towards high-dimensional quantum communication and quantum imaging.

Dr. Valeria Rodriguez-Fajardo

Research Fellow

Valeria started developing her interest in photonics as a Physics undergraduate at the National University of Colombia. An interest that lead her to the National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics (INAOE), Mexico, where she pursued a Master degree in Optics. She continued her career in Spain, where she conducted a PhD in photonics at ICFO – The Institute of Photonics Sciences. Through her career, she has doubled in different fields of optics, such as, holography, plasmonic trapping of micrometer-sized dielectric particles, spectroscopy, as well as, imaging of plasmonic nanoparticles immersed in complex environments (such as biological cells). Her main current interest is quantum imaging, where she can apply her knowledge to combine imaging techniques with quantum optics.

Prof. Stef Roux

Visiting Academic

Filippus Stefanus Roux (Stef) earned his B.Eng (1985), M.Eng (1987) and a Ph.D (1990) in Electronic Engineering from the University of Pretoria in South Africa and a second Ph.D (2000) in theoretical particle physics from the University of Toronto in Canada. He has been a faculty member at different universities (Potchefstroom, Ottawa, Pretoria), worked at government laboratories (Aerotek, [today DPSS] and the National Laser Centre, both part of the CSIR) and spent 2 years in industry at JDS Uniphase Corporation in Canada. During most of his career he worked on different fields in optics. Dr. Roux in currently a Principal Scientist at the CSIR National Laser Centre.

Dr. Angela Dudley

Visiting Academic

Angela Dudley conducted her PhD research at the CSIR National Laser Centre based in Pretoria, South Africa. She received her PhD in June 2012 from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and after a brief post doc has taken up her current position as Senior Researcher at the CSIR National Laser Centre. Her studies are centred on the development of measurement techniques for optical orbital angular momentum and the implementation of these techniques for quantum optics. Angela has been awarded two SPIE scholarships and received the 2012 CSIR Excellence Award for ‘Outstanding Performance by a PhD Student’. She was a founding member of the CSIR OSA and SPIE student chapter and was president of the chapter in 2010.

Dr. Darryl Naidoo

Visiting Academic

Darryl Naidoo conducted his PhD research at the CSIR National Laser Centre based in Pretoria, South Africa. He received his PhD in March 2015 from Stellenbosch University and has subsequently taken up his current position as Senior Researcher at the CSIR National Laser Centre. His work is centred on laser beam shaping both extra and intra-cavity, mode measurement and laser resonators where his current research is geared towards high power beam shaping for use in laser enabled manufacturing processes. Darryl has been awarded one SPIE scholarship, 4 National Laser Centre awards and has received 2 CSIR Excellence Awards for ‘Best Student’ in 2012 and ‘Outstanding Contribution by a Team’ in 2014.

Bienvenue Ndagano

PhD Student

Bienvenu’s research focuses on applications of structured light to quantum and classical communication. His interests includes quantum key distribution, high-dimensional entanglement, and classical entanglement. Bienvenu holds a Master’s degree from the University of the Witwatersrand. His MSc focused on optical communication through optical fibres using spatial modes of light. Bienvenu was the recipient of the 2015 Jan Loubser award for the best Honours project and is the founder of the WITS OSA and SPIE student chapter.

Hend Sroor

PhD Student

Hend is a PhD student with a BSc in Physics from Menofia University in Egypt. She began her career as a physics tutor at the Modern Academy for Engineering and Technology in Egypt. Hend received a postgraduate diploma in Laser Interaction with Matters from Cairo University and was then awarded a scholarship to undertake an MSc at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences with a research project at the University of Stellenbosch. Her MSc involved measuring, analysing and simulating the true ultrafast electron bunch duration in the Ultrafast Electron Diffractometer.

Mitchell Cox

PhD Student

Mitchell attained his BSc(Eng) Electrical and Information degree with distinction at The University of the Witwatersrand. After a short stint in industry, he returned to Wits to do his MSc(Physics), focusing on energy efficient and cost effective high data throughput computing for the ATLAS detector at CERN through the use of ARM System on Chips found in mobile devices. Mitchell is now pursuing his PhD in optical communications and is interested in harnessing spatial modes of light to increase the data throughput of free space optical links.

Nkosi Bhebhe

PhD Student

Nkosiphile attained his honors in Zimbabwe were he was awarded the NUST book Prize for the best honors project. He then enrolled for an MSc in condensed matter physics at wits and graduated with distinction. His MSc work focused on light-matter interaction studies. Nkosiphile is now a PhD student and his main interests are in laser beam shaping for applications in optical tweezers.

Isaac Nape

PhD Student

Isaac is a PhD student and holds a BSc (Hon) in Physics from the University of Pretoria and an MSc Physics from the University of Witwatersrand. He is currently exploring his deep interest in quantum entanglement. His research focuses on exploiting the internal degrees of freedom of single photons for applications in quantum communication. He aspires to dazzle the world with fun science and technology. Most of all, he hopes to encourage more young Africans to take on science related careers and to join in on the second quantum revolution. “We are currently in the midst of a second quantum revolution.” Jonathan P. Dowling et. al.

Nicholas Bornman

PhD Student

Nicholas obtained his B.Sc. (Hons.) from the University of Pretoria. After completing an MSc at the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS), which looked into the su(2) and su(3) generators acting on restricted Schur polynomials, he was awarded a Perimeter Scholars International Scholarship to study theoretical physics at the Perimeter Institute in Canada. Upon completion of his second MSc, he returned home and is now pursuing his Ph.D. at WITS. It will look into higher-dimensional, multi-photon systems, as well as the interface between quantum field theory and quantum information.

Nokwazi Mphuthi

PhD Student

Nokwazi is PhD student with a Bsc in Land surveying from the University of KwaZulu natal. As part of her Msc project, she worked in a joint collaboration project with Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO), NASA and Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur(France) to develop the first Lunar Laser Ranging system in the Southern Hemisphere. She obtained her Msc, also in Land Surveying from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. As an extension of the LLR work, efforts were needed to increase the efficiency of the system. This paved the way to collaborations between the Structured Light lab and HartRAO. The project aims to improve increase the photon return rate of laser ranging systems using structured light and optimistically pave way for sending Orbital Angular Momentum to the Moon.

Bereneice Sephton

PhD Student

Bereneice is currently pursuing her PhD. She attained a BSc majoring in Physical Science and a BSc(Hons) from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. She is awaiting her MSc from Wits University where she investigated the realization of Quantum Walks with classical light, walking the quantum-classical divide. Her doctorate now explores quantum imaging, using the extremes of light to investigate what we can see on the photon level with a quirky twist.

Nyiku Mahonisi

MSc Student

Nyiku is currently a 2nd year MSc student at the Wits University working under the Centre of Excellence and Structured Light Laboratory, both located at Wits. He holds a BSc (Hons) in Physics from Wits University. His research interest is in Quantum Information Processing where he is investigating defects in diamond as a suitable source for the generation of single photon states.

Johnathan Pinnell

MSc Student

Jonathan is a first year masters student and holds a BSc and 2 honours degrees in Physics and Computational & Applied Mathematics, all from the University of the Witwatersrand. His masters thesis revolves around quantum entanglement for applications in quantum communication and quantum computing. Other special interests include Deep Learning and fundamental physics.

Ravin Kara

MSc Student

Ravin obtained a Bachelor of Science degree with majors in Physics and Computational and Applied Mathematics and an Honours degree in Physics from the University of the Witwatersrand. His research focuses on Digital Micro-mirror devices, which can be found in commercial projectors, and their applications in the rapid generation and detection of modes of light. He also aims to explore the implementation these devices in more classical and quantum optical experiments.

Luthando Maqondo

MSc Student

Luthando is currently doing MSc Physics under the Optics and Photonics group and holds a BSc(Hons) in Physics (2017). He attained a BSc degree in Nuclear Science and Engineering from the University of the Witwatersrand (2014 to 2016). His MSc research focuses on free space optical communication through spatial modes of light. This work is translated into the language of information theory.

Christopher Ayala

MSc Student

Christopher is a first-year masters student from the United States. He completed a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics & statistics and physics at Stony Brook University. His research involves building a quantum entanglement microscope to probe light-sensitive materials with few photons. He will focus on integrating the system with a machine learning component.

Nikiwe Mashaba

MSc Student

Nikiwe obtained a Diploma in Industrial Physics and specialized in Photonics from Tshwane University of Technology. She also received a certificate in Project Management from University of Pretoria and a Post Graduate Diploma in Nuclear Science and Technology from North West University. She was awarded an MSc studentship contract by the CSIR, Optronic Sensor Systems division. She is carrying out her masters in atmospheric studies by simulating real time turbulence that will mitigate atmospheric conditions for their electro-optical systems. She is hoping to gain insight of optical engineering, structured light and turbulence in order to give back (contribute) to the supportive structure of CSIR. Nikiwe also worked at Hendsolt Optronics as part of vacation work and a graduate student with the passion for optics. She later joined the CSIR as an internship student since 2016.

Honours Students

Stirling Scholes
Department of Physics, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa
Michael De Oliveira
Department of Physics, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa


Visiting Academics (International)

Martin Lavery
University of Glasgow

Ben McMarron
Oregon University

Jonathan Leach
Hariot-Watt University

Filippo Romanato
Padova University

Jian Wang
Huazhong University of Science and Technology

Visiting Students (International)

Ermes Toninelli
PhD Student
University of Glasgow, Optics Group

Jun Liu
PhD Student
Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Multi-Dimensional Photonics Lab

Peter J. Williams
1st Year
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Giacomo Sorelli
PhD Student
University of Freiburg

Charlotte Kyeremah
MSc Student
University of Cape Coast, Ghana

Sruthy Lathika
MSc Student
Indian Institute of Technology, India

Eileen Otte
PhD Student
Institute for Applied Physics, WWU Münster, Germany

Benjamin Perez-Garcia
PhD Student
Photonics and Mathematical Optics Group, Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico

Robert Brüning
PhD Student
Institute of Applied Optics, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany

Filipu Yelton Nlovu
MSc Student
University of Fort Hare, South Africa

Preceeding Members


Melanie McLaren (2015-2017)

Carmelo Rosales Guzman (2015-2018)

Graduated Students

Berneice Sephton (2018)
MSc Dissertation: Quantum walks with classically entangled light

Lucas Galele (2018)
MSc Dissertation: Long distance data transfer using spatial modes of light

Isaac Nape (2017)
MSc Dissertation: Hybrid entanglement for quantum communication

Bigboy Madlala (2017)
MSc Dissertation: Designing a low cost passively Q-switched solid state laser transmitter

Daniel Morris (2017)
MSc Dissertation: Research and development of high power thulium-doped fibre lasers

Bienvenu Ndagano (2016)
MSc Dissertation: Encoding information into spatial modes of light