Previous group photos: [2015] [2016] [2017] [2018]

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. Angela Dudley

Senior Lecturer and a Permanent Staff Member

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. 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.

Dr. Najmeh Tabe Bordbar

Research Fellow

Najmeh obtained her Bsc and Msc in physics from Shiraz University, in Iran. She received her Ph.D in Quantum physics from Sharif University of Technology in 2017. She has introduced a constructive method for using separable states to distribute d-level Bell states between two parties and GHZ states between three and more parties. Besides, she has investigated the noise effects on the performance of entanglement distribution by separable state. One of her main objectives and interest is to put her theoretical findings into practice and to increase level of security in order to make it impossible for anyone to steal the information that is transmitted between (for example) Alice and Bob.

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. 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.

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.

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.

Ester Nabadda

PhD Student

Msc Physics (Fiber optics), project on Polarization mode dispersions in buried and aerial fibers plus advanced modulation techniques (a collaboration between Makerere University and Nelson Mandela University). Currently working on developing a hybrid classical-quantum communication system that can perform quantum key distribution over long distance telecommunication networks.

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.

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.

Stirling Scholes

MSc Student

Stirling is a first year Masters student. He obtained a Bachelor of Science (BSc) with Majors in Physics and Computational and Applied Mathematics (CAM) as well as a BSc Honours in Physics with distinction from the University of the Witwatersrand. He is the recipient of the Starfield Medal for the best mathematical modelling project in CAM III and the Jan Loubser memorial prize for the best project in Physics Honours. His masters research is aimed at integrating structured light and beam shaping into high energy lasers for applications in the industrial and defence sectors.

Michael De Oliveira

MSc Student

Michael obtained a BSc in Astronomy & Astrophysics and a BSc(Hons.) in Physics with distinction from the University of the Witwatersrand. He is currently pursuing his MSc in quantum random number generation, with hopes of shedding new light on the nature of randomness.

Honours Students


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)

Maya Reyes
1st Year
Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,, United States

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

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

Hang Li
PhD Student
Huazhong University of Science and Techology, Hubei, China

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

Giacomo Sorelli
PhD Student
University of Freiburg

Yijie Shen
PhD Student
Tsinghua University, Beijing, China

Charlotte Kyeremah
MSc Student
University of Cape Coast, Ghana

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

Ermes Toninelli
PhD Student
University of Glasgow, Optics Group

Sruthy Lathika
MSc Student
Indian Institute of Technology, India

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

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

Preceeding Members


Melanie McLaren (2015-2017)

Carmelo Rosales Guzman (2015-2018)

Adam Valles (2017-2018)

Graduated Students

Bienvenu Ndagano (2019)
PhD Thesis: Classical and Quantum Entanglement: Applications to Quantum Communications with Structured Photons

Nkosi Bhebhe (2019)
PhD Thesis: Creation and analysis of structured light fields for application in optical tweezers

Hend Sroor (2019)
PhD Thesis: Higher-Order Poincaré beams from lasers

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