Advisors & Observers

In iMARS, we share our research and results for transparency and validation, but also to get feedback and advice from independent field experts. Their external perspectives help enrich our project and their independence from the partner organisations protects the project against any potential bias.

The following independent external experts are involved in the project to review our work and results and provide critical, strategic advice on scientific and technical aspects, on data and information security matters, as well as providing a full ethical review and vetting.

Independent external Scientific & Security Advisors

Ralph Breithaupt

German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), Evaluation of eID-Technologies

Ralph Breithaupt is a project manager and senior scientist at BSI. His main responsibilities are the vulnerability analysis of biometric systems, the development of technical countermeasures and new biometric sensors as well as corresponding certification methodologies. Ralph is closely cooperating with governmental end users, researchers and manufacturers and is active in national and international standardisation efforts. He is responsible for the foundation and the governmental operation of the Biometric Evaluation Center (BEZ), an institution for the evaluation and research of biometric technologies.


Rebecca Heyer

Australian Department of Defence

Rebecca Heyer joined the Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG) in 1999 after completing the Australian Department of Defence’s Graduate Development Program. She is currently Group Leader Identity Intelligence in the Intelligence, Surveillance and Space Division. Rebecca holds degrees in Health Sciences and Science (Hons), a Masters in Criminology, Graduate Certificates in Operations Research & Statistics, and Scientific Leadership, and a PhD in facial recognition. During her early career with DSTG, Rebecca worked in the fields of wargaming, counter terrorism and social network analysis. For the past 14 years she has worked in the field of biometric and identification technologies, focussing on facial recognition and its vulnerabilities. Rebecca is also an Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the University of Adelaide, where she supervises research projects in the human identification and video exploitation domains.


Johannes Merkle

Secunet Security Networks, Biometric & eID

Johannes Merkle holds a degree in mathematics and a PhD degree in mathematics from the University of Frankfurt. He was with the University of Frankfurt for three years in the field of cryptography.

Since 1988, Johannes Merkle is working as a security consultant at secunet Security Networks, where he focussed on cryptography and biometrics.

He participated in numerous research projects, resulting in several publications on biometric template protection, fingerprint recognition, facial image morphing attack detection and elliptic curve cryptography.


David Robertson

University of Strathclyde Psychology

David Robertson holds a degree in Psychology from the University of Glasgow and a PhD from the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. His research interests include Cognition and Neuropsychology notably its link with Face Recognition. David Robertson is currently a Lecturer at University of Strathclyde Psychology, where he combines lecturing responsibilities with ongoing research in attention, perception and face recognition. David Robertson received several prizes and awards, including the 2018 and 2019 Strathclyde Teaching Excellence Award and has been nominated for the prestigious Strathclyde Medal.


Nicole Spaun

George Mason University, Forensic Science Department. IDEMIA Identity and Security.

Nicole Spaun holds a degree in planetary sciences from Boston University and a PhD in geology from Brown University. Dr. Spaun was a postdoctoral researcher at NASA’s Ames Research Center when, troubled by the attacks of 9/11, she changed careers to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Using her image analysis skills as a Forensic Examiner, she specialized in biometrics and image manipulation detection, and developed an FBI training class for facial comparisons. Recently Dr. Spaun has worked for IDEMIA, as their Program Manager for CJ Education and Image Recognition, specializing in image comparisons. In 2020 she began teaching at George Mason University as an Adjunct Professor in Forensic Science. She is an associate of the Facial Identification Scientific Working Group and has won SIA’s Women in Biometrics 2019 Award.