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Robert R. Thomson was awarded the BSc. in Physics from Heriot Watt University (HWU) in 2000, the MSc in Optoelectronics and Laser Devices from the University of St Andrews in 2001 (a course jointly run with HWU) and the PhD in the Physics from HWU in 2006. His PhD research, which was conducted within the nonlinear optics group at HWU, was primarily concerned with the development of Er-doped waveguide amplifiers for applications in metropolitan area telecommunications networks. During his PhD he developed Er-doped devices using a range of techniques including pulsed laser deposition (PLD), femtosecond laser micromachining, ultrafast laser inscription and sol-gel.