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Engineering fast, flexible, precise, and parallel light sculpting for neural circuit elucidation

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  • Full or part time
    Dr A Foust
    Dr Simon Schultz
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

(4 year MRes + PhD studentship)

This project is one of 11 studentships on offer in the Imperial College EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Neurotechnology for Life and Health

Supervisors: Amanda Foust (Bioengineering), Simon Schultz (Bioengineering), Mark Neil (Physics)

Computer-generated holography has the potential to revolutionize our understanding of how brain circuits wire and process information through simultaneous manipulation and read-out of activity in many neurons simultaneously. Geneticists recently put this goal in reach with an “optogenetic revolution,” invention of technology to electrically activate neurons and detect their activity with light. Now neuroscientists need tools to pattern light onto living brain circuits with spatial and temporal sophistication mimicking that of naturally occurring neural activity. This CDT project will engineer design solutions necessary to render holography a powerful neurophysiological tool and obtain groundbreaking data about how neural circuits learn.

The CDT programme is not a standard PhD programme. Throughout the 4 years, there is considerable emphasis upon multidisciplinary and transferable skills, through centre activities beyond the individual research project. The programme cannot be taken without the first (MRes Neurotechnology) year, as it is an integral part of the overall programme.

Applicants should have (or expect to obtain) a first or upper second class degree (or non-UK equivalent) in an engineering or physical science subject. You should be looking for a challenging, multi-disciplinary PhD at the interface of neuroscience and engineering.

A strong candidate will hold a degree in physics, electrical engineering, or computer science, with a strong interest in brain function. Coursework and/or laboratory experience in applications to biological systems are strongly preferred. Alternatively, a student with a degree in neuroscience/life/natural sciences with additional experience or hobbies in involving mathematics, physics, software, hardware and general “hacking” could also thrive in this programme. Coursework and workshops in optics, neuroscience, hardware and software engineering will be selected to supplement the student’s background during the MRes year in parallel with the project detailed above.

To apply online, visit

If you have questions or would like further information about the project, we encourage you to contact the supervisors directly before making your formal application.

Funding Notes

Studentships pay UK/EU tuition fees, stipend and a generous consumables and travel fund for the duration of the programme (one year of MRes and 3 years of PhD).

Places are open to UK and EU applicants only.

How good is research at Imperial College London in General Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 33.50

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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