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Live cell imaging under extreme conditions

  • Full or part time
    Dr Buzz Baum
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Complex eukaryotic cells first appeared on earth over a billion years ago. It is now thought that they arose as the result of the establishment of a symbiotic partnership between an archaeal host cell and a bacterium, which went on to become the mitochondrion. While the debate about the origins of the complex architecture that characterises the eukaryotic cell remains an issue of contention, it has recently become clear that many of the proteins machines that eukaryotic cells use to manipulate membranes have their origins in archaea. This highlights the need for cell biology in archaea. This is challenging as archaea tend to be small extremophiles. To make this possible, our lab has constructed a “Sulfoloscope” to enable imaging of Sulfolobus, one of the members of this family of archaea, live at 75°C. We are looking for a student to join the team to help with this project. The goal of the PhD project will be to use live cell imaging in archaea to study the archaeal origins of eukaryotic membrane remodelling and vesicle trafficking by developing fluorescent probes that will enable live super-resolution imaging of ESCRTIII in cells – since this protein is conserved between archaea and eukaryotes. This work will be done in collaboration with the Saric lab who has developed a physical model of ESCRTIII-dependent membrane remodelling.

Together we aim to uncover how cell trafficking evolved to sustain the complexity of the eukaryotic life we know.

This PhD is from a VW Life? award (–-a-fresh-scientific-approach-to-the-basic-principles-of-life).

ABOUT US: The Baum lab ( is an interdisciplinary team. Working together, we aim to better understand the evolution of eukaryotic cell shape and division, to determine how cells regulate their form, and to determine how these processes contribute to normal tissue development and homeostasis and, when they go awry, to the evolution of metastatic cancer.

ABOUT YOU: The candidate should have an undergraduate degree in the Natural Sciences.
They should have a working knowledge of cell biology and microscopy, and be willing to work as part of an interdisciplinary team.

HOW TO APPLY: The position is fully funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and will be for four years starting at any point after January 1st 2020. Please send electronic applications to in the following format:
• A CV, including full details of all University course grades to date.
• Contact details for two academic or professional referees (at least one academic).
• A personal statement (750 words maximum) outlining (i) your academic excellence, (ii) suitability for the project, (iii) what you hope to achieve from the PhD and (iv) your research experience to-date.

The evaluation of applications will begin 28th October 2019 until the position is filled.

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