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Faculty of Engineering

PhD Studentship - UK/EU

PhD Project: Neural control of behaviour

Two fully-funded home/EU PhD studentship are available in the School of Computing at the University of Leeds, UK. These studentships form part of a larger EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Science Research Council) funded project, for which we are seeking to appoint a team (in the first instance 1 postdoctoral fellow and 3 PhD candidates). You will join our research group based across the School of Computing and the C. elegans Lab in the Faculty of Biological Sciences.

We study the neural basis of behavior and learning in the nematode worm C. elegans. Research combines biological experiments, mathematical and computational modeling of the neural control as well as investigations of the physics of the worm and its interaction with the environment. Our research on C. elegans has focused primarily on locomotion, and we have recently expanded our scope to address sensory (and sensory-motor) integration and plasticity in the worm's sensory (chemotaxis) circuit. We follow an integrative, systems biology approach in which biologically-grounded data-driven models are used to generate experimental predictions which feed back to our modeling work.

A relatively simple animal, with a small and fully mapped anatomy and nervous system and experimentally accessible, Caenorhabditis elegans is a leading model system in genetics and development as well as neurobiology. Dubbed the “hydrogen atom” of systems neuroscience, it is also the subject of intensifying efforts (and a UK grand challenge) to model this creature completely – integrating bottom up and top-down approaches.

These PhD studentships are available for excellent candidates interested in experimental (behavior and neuroscience) research, or in combining experiment and modeling. Projects on sensory perception, sensory integration, motor control, or learning and memory in the worm may be considered.

Specific projects will be chosen from the scope and remit of the project, but tailored to individual interests and skills. These include or may combine:

•  Biological experiments, including behavioral assays, imaging and optogenetics and molecular genetics.

•  Mathematical/computational modeling of neural circuits and integrated neuro-mechanical control

•  Algorithms, software development in machine vision and engineering for imaging and real time tracking, and image/movie analysis

You will join a multi-disciplinary, dynamic, and creative BioSystems group within the School of Computing at the University of Leeds, with close ties to the Hope Laboratory in the Faculty of Biological Sciences, where all biological experimental facilities are housed.

Value: The studentships are available immediately for a period of 3 or 4 years. Full fees and maintenance of £13,590 is available for candidates with UK/EU nationality and residency status (See EPSRC).

Number of awards: 2

Entry requirements: PhD candidates should have a strong background in a relevant area, including but not limited to biological sciences, physics, applied mathematics, biophysics, computer science, and electrical/mechanical engineering.

Prior experience in research (e.g. a Masters degree, or work in industry) is a plus, as is prior experience in laboratory experiments. Prior experience in biology or biological modeling is not required.

All candidates should be interested in undertaking experimental and/or theoretical neuroscience research and be keen to collaborate within a dynamic team, in an interdisciplinary setting.

Supervisor: Dr Netta Cohen, N.Cohen@leeds.ac.uk, +44 (0) 113 343 6789 Informal enquiries welcome.

Application deadline: Open until filled

Further information: To discuss this project further informally, please contact Dr Netta Cohen, t: +44 (0)113 343 6789

How to apply: Formal applications for research degree study should be made on-line through the University's website. Please state clearly on the funding section of the application form that you wish to be considered for this scholarship. If you have published research papers, please list these in the 'Additional Information' section.

Please upload all the documents required as soon as possible. Scanned copies are acceptable though you will need to provide originals or certified copies at registration. These will include your degree certificate(s), transcripts of marks achieved in previous degrees, plus evidence of English language qualifications if your first language is not English and you do not hold a degree from an English-speaking country. Please do not provide school certificates, or non-academic certificates.

Please note, if you intend to send academic references we can only accept them if they are on official letter headed paper and contain an original signature and stamp; they must arrive in sealed envelopes. Alternatively, the School will contact your named academic referees directly.

If you require any further information please contact the Graduate School Office, e: phd@engineering.leeds.ac.uk, t: +44 (0)113 343 8000.