Kia ora, hello! I’m Jian, a Research Associate and the Image Analysis Specialist at the BioFrontiers Advanced Light Microscopy Core (ALMC). In my current position, I collaborate with biologists, computer scientists, and engineers, to develop innovative imaging methods and analysis software to enable breakthroughs in cellular biology.

Originally from New Zealand, I received my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Physics from the University of Otago. I then moved to the United States to complete my postdoctoral training at the Washington University in St Louis and the University of Colorado Boulder. During my academic training, I invented new methods to image through thick, optically scattering media, using photoacoustics and wavefront shaping and quantum optics resources.

I have been in my current position at the ALMC for four years, initially in a part-time capacity (25% FTE) before being promoted to full-time status in 2019. During my time here, I have established and grown the image analysis capabilities of the ALMC by developing automated analysis pipelines, allowing large sets of images to be analyzed with a single command. Additionally, I have developed customized solutions to process images containing more complex objects, such as actin fibers or organelles, which were previously unable to be analyzed or would have required manual annotation. Most of the code I have developed is available online (see the projects page for more details).

My work has enabled multidisciplinary collaborations with over 15 different research groups from four different departments throughout the university and the local community. These collaborations have resulted in ground-breaking discoveries, including the first observation of degradation of a bacterial microcompartment, as well as shedding light on the role of zinc on the mammalian cell cycle.

Apart from research, I also train students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty in cutting-edge image analysis methods. I teach a cross-listed course ( MCDB/BCHM 4312/5312 Quantitative Optical Imaging) during the fall semesters, as well as organizing workshops during the rest of the academic year. I am also building a new website to provide programming and image analysis training for biologists.


  • Optics and Imaging
  • Image Analysis
  • Machine learning and neural networks
  • Computational modelling


  • PhD in Physics, 2011

    University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

  • BSc in Physics, 2006

    University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand



Research Associate

BioFrontiers Institute, University of Colorado Boulder

Aug 2019 – Present Boulder, CO

Professional Research Assistant

BioFrontiers Institute and RASEI Institute, University of Colorado Boulder

Jul 2016 – Jul 2019 Boulder, CO

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder

Aug 2014 – Jul 2016 Boulder, CO

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Washington University in St Louis

Aug 2011 – Aug 2014 St Louis, MO



jian.tay [at]


BioFrontiers Institute
3415 Colorado Avenue, UCB 596
Boulder, CO 80309