Alumni Spotlight – Alex Hadjinicolaou

Due to the unique space that the NVRI holds within the vision research landscape in Australia, it plays an important role in the formative years of many outstanding researchers. It is no surprise that the NVRI boasts an exceptional Alumni who continue to drive research internationally.

Alex Hadjinicolaou is the first of several Alumni we will speak to as we celebrate the NVRI at 50.

Alex is one such exceptional researcher, who spent his formative years in the NVRI between 2011 – 2014. Following his PhD submission in 2013 and his first post-doctoral position at the NVRI, Alex took a Research Fellow position in Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Since 2022, Alex has transitioned to an industry role and holds the position of Senior Data Scientist at BitSight.


Please describe your time at the NVRI.

I made it to the NVRI as a doctoral student under the supervision of Michael Ibbotson, Shaun Cloherty, and Brendan O’Brien, when Michael relocated the lab from Canberra. After earning my PhD, I stayed on a Postdoctoral Research Fellow for around 2 years, studying the responses of retinal ganglion cells to electrical stimulation, with a view towards developing a stimulation strategy for a retinal prosthetic device.

Why did you choose the NVRI?

Admittedly, my decision to join the NVRI was largely to do with maintaining a physical presence in Michael’s lab after the move to Melbourne. With that said, I liked that our new host had a long history of collaboration, with close proximity to the University of Melbourne and other institutions.


What is your fondest memory of your time at the NVRI?

It’s hard to pin down a single one! The memories that come to mind are pretty ordinary – getting fancy muffins at Trotters with coworkers, trading bad jokes over hallway conversations, lab lunches to celebrate someone getting a paper out – but I like them all.


One of NVRI’s main goals has been to help support the development of early career researchers. Can you describe how your time at the NVRI help enhance your research career?

The NVRI often invited local and international researchers to talk about their work. One of such talks was given by Shelley Fried, an authoritative figure in the retinal prosthetics world.  We had met before, but the talk gave us an opportunity to chat, which led to my next postdoc position in his lab. So, it’s fair to say that the NVRI had a pretty big effect on my career trajectory!


Can you describe your experience at the NVRI in two sentences?

How about a haiku, instead?

A strange thing indeed

How time does fly in research

When working with friends

Alex Hadjinicolaou and Yu-Shan Hung, 2013
Alex Hadjinicolaou and Yu-Shan Hung, 2013
Marcus Hietenan, Matias Maturana and Alex Hadjinicolaou, 2013
Marcus Hietenan, Matias Maturana and Alex Hadjinicolaou, 2013