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  Assessing the role of plant membrane proteins in harnessing solar energy with video-speed electron microscopy and fluorescence microscopy

   Faculty of Biological Sciences

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  Dr Peter Adams, Dr S Muench  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Structural biology is often conducted using “static” snapshots of dynamic systems, therefore information on assembly/disassembly processes are poorly resolved. New quantitative approaches, which now bring in a temporal resolution to structural biology can provide dynamic mechanistic information. Our groups are developing time-resolved Electron Microscopy (TrEM), video-speed Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) and Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy (FLIM) to provide temporally-resolved structural biology. This project integrates these newly developed methodologies in TrEM and AFM/FLIM to address fundamental questions in the biophysics of photosynthesis, relevant for the next generation of solar technologies.

Photosystem II (PSII) is a membrane protein supercomplex, essential for photosynthesis in plants. PSII contains “core” subunits and many loosely associated “light harvesting” subunits, acting like an adjustable satellite dish. Time-resolved observation of structural changes to supercomplexes will provide new understanding of the dynamics of this important system. Furthermore, the PSII supercomplex is an excellent experimental model for method development because its biochemical purification is well-established and the protein is naturally fluorescent (“tags” are not needed). Objectives are: (1) Integrate the current TrEM apparatus into workflows with video-speed AFM/FLIM, (2) Quantify the kinetics of assembly/disassembly of PSII supercomplexes, and (3) Correlate spatiotemporal information to produce a mechanism for PSII assembly.


You should hold a first degree equivalent to at least a UK upper-second class honours degree or a MSc degree in a relevant subject.

Applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence that their English language is sufficient to meet the specific demands of their study. The Faculty of Biological Sciences minimum requirements in IELTS and TOEFL tests are:

  • British Council IELTS - score of 6.0 overall, with no element less than 5.5
  • TOEFL iBT - overall score of 87 with the listening and reading element no less than 20, writing element no less than 21 and the speaking element no less than 22.

How to apply:

To apply for this project applicants should complete an online application form and attach the following documentation to support their application. 

  • a full academic CV
  • degree certificate and transcripts of marks
  • Evidence that you meet the University's minimum English language requirements (if applicable).

To help us identify that you are applying for this studentship please ensure you provide the following information on your application form;

  • Select PhD in Biological Sciences as your programme of study
  • When asked for source of funding please make it clear that you are applying for a "White Rose BBSRC DTP Studentship"
  • Give the full project title and name the supervisors listed in this advert. You can be considered for up to 3 projects in total.

If you have any further queries regarding this opportunity, please contact [Email Address Removed]

Biological Sciences (4)

Funding Notes

This opportunity is funded by the White Rose BBSRC DTP and will attract an annual tax-free stipend of £17,668 (based on the 2022/23 rate). The award will also cover academic fees. This opportunity is available to UK and International fee rated applicants. Please note that any expenses related to the relocation of international students to the UK (visa, insurance, NHS fees, flights, etc) would be their responsibility and are not covered by this award.

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