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Sierra Sparks BEng

DPhil Student


Sierra is a Rhodes Scholar and a current DPhil (PhD) in Engineering Science student. She works under the supervision of Professor Daniel Bulte within the biomedical image analysis research cluster. Her research focuses on measuring cerebrovascular reactivity (CVR) using magnetic resonance imaging and pupillometry to identify early indicators of neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Prior to Oxford, she graduated from Dalhousie University in Canada with a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering with co-operative education. She previously conducted research and gained industry experience working in high-frequency medical ultrasound transducer development and is a licensed Engineer-in-Training (EIT) in Canada.

Sierra is passionate about increasing the number of women and equity-deserving groups in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), which she does through outreach work and through her current position as an ED&I Fellow for the Mathematical, Physical, and Life Sciences Division at the University of Oxford.

Research Interests

Sierra’s research focuses on using pupillometry to assess brain function, including the assessment of cerebrovascular reactivity (CVR). She is investigating the use of pupillary light response measurement to estimate CVR. She aims to combine this with an analysis of lifestyle factors and magnetic resonance imaging to identify risk factors and early indicators of neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and to create a model to predict a person’s risk given their pupillometry data and lifestyle information.
More broadly, Sierra is interested in:

  • Pupillometry
  • Risk factor analysis
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Biomedical Instrumentation
  • Supervised Machine Learning
  • Inclusive Research

Research Groups

Related Academics