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FULLY FUNDED PHD: The molecular basis of avian photoperiodism

College of Medicine, Veterinary and Life Sciences

About the Project

Our group focuses on (epi)genomic mechanisms that govern long-term timers in the brain. The student will join a Leverhulme Trust funded research team that seeks to uncover novel epigenomic and transcriptome markers involved in the control of long-term rhythms. This studentship will explore the epigenomic and molecular basis of avian photoperiodism.

The projects will take advantage of the well characterised light manipulation that control the avian photoperiodic response. Using a series of photoperiod- and hormone-manipulations, the projects will investigate the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal regulation of seasonal rhythms in reproduction.

The main objectives are to characterize the photoperiodic regulation of transcriptomic and methylome plasticity in discrete nuclei and cell populations.

The PhD studentship will use cutting-edge Nanopore sequencing techniques to identify seasonal rhythms in epigenomic and transcriptomic patterns across the neuroendocrine-pituitary-gonad axis.

In order to examine the functional role of candidate genomic loci, projects will incorporate crispr-cas9 tools to gain control over tissue-specific transcript expression levels.

The student will learn several common methods in molecular biology (e.g. qPCR), hormone assays (e.g. ELISA), stereology, metabolic analyses and behavioural assessment.

The student will obtain a Home Office Personal Licence for animal research and formal training in Oxford Nanopore Sequencing and Crispr-cas9 design.

The student will also receive directed training in animal behaviour, stereotaxic injections, hormone measurement, neuroanatomy, histochemistry, cell culture, bioinformatics, and statistical analyses.

Upon completion, the training would allow progression into a variety of post-doctoral positions within the biomedical sciences, bioinformatics or biotechnology industries.

Funding Notes

The 3-year studentship will provide full support for tuition fees and an annual minimum tax-free stipend of £15,285. Applicants should hold a minimum upper-second honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subjects such as biological sciences, zoology, or neuroscience. A Masters degree in a similar area is desirable as would previouse experience in molecular biology and/or animal behaviour. This multi-disiplinary PhD will be primarily carried out in the Garscbue campus in the Veterinary School, providing state-of-the-art facilities for animal health and wellness.

All enquiries relating to the project and/or suitability should be directed to Dr Tyler Stevenson.


Bao R, Onish KG, Tolla E, Ebling FJP, Lewis JE, Anderson RL, Barrett P, Prendergast BJ, Stevenson TJ. 2019 Genome sequencing and transcriptome analyses of the Siberian hamster hypothalamus identify mechanisms for seasonal energy balance. PNAS, 116:13116-13121.

Stevenson TJ. 2018. Epigenetic regulation of biological rhythms: an evolutionary ancient molecular timer. Trends Genetics 34:90-100.

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