Dr Luke McDonald

I am broadly interested in all aspects of colour and its functionality in biological organisms. As an optical physicist, the primary focus of my research to date has been the structural colours that are observed in an abundance of animal and plant systems. My current project will seek to provide new insights regarding the evolution and taphonomy (processes of decay and fossilisation) of scales and 3D photonic crystals in insects (primarily beetles).


Zhang, Q., Mey, W., Ansorge, J., Starkey, T.A., McDonald, L.T., McNamara, M.E., Jarzembowski, E.A., Wichard, W., Kelly, R., Ren, X., Chen, J., Zhang, H., Wang, B., 2018. Fossil scales illuminate the early evolution of lepidopterans and structural colors. Science Advances, 4, e1700988. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700988.

McDonald, L.T., Finlayson, E.D., Wilts, B.D., Vukusic, P., 2017. Circularly polarised colour of the scarab beetle Chalcothea smaragdina: light scattering by a dual photonic structure. Interface Focus (accepted for publication).

McDonald, L.T., 2016. Circularly Polarised Optics in Scarabaeidae. Ph.D Thesis (University of Exeter).

McDonald, L.T., Finlayson, E.D., Vukusic, P., 2015. Untwisting the polarization properties of light reflected by scarab beetles. Proceedings of SPIE, 9341, 93410K.


2016 – 2017: Postdoctoral research associate, University of Exeter.

2012 – 2016: Physics Ph.D, University of Exeter.

2008 – 2012: MPhys Physics, University of Exeter.