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Optical Neurophysiology: Investigating How Brain Circuits Wire, Process and Store Information

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, March 31, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Optical control and readout of neuronal networks has the potential to revolutionise our understanding of how communication between neurons gives rise to our senses, perceptions, thoughts, emotions and actions. Geneticists over the past 15 years have developed molecules that, when ectopically expressed in neurons, can actuate or silence neurons with light, and can report changes in membrane potential and calcium concentration through changes in their optical properties. These tools, combined with rapidly evolving optical technologies, can enable science fiction-scale progress to understanding live neuronal network function through optical manipulation and readout of neuronal activity.

The Optical Neurophysiology Laboratory, lead by Dr. Amanda Foust, is looking for a talented motivated PhD student, interested in working in the field of optical neurophysiology, to engineer solutions at the interface of neuroscience, optics, hardware, software, and molecules, generating powerful new instruments to unlock the mysteries of live neuronal networks. The ideal candidate has a strong background in electrical/electronic, computer, optical or genetic/molecular engineering, or optical physics, coupled with a strong interest in cross-disciplinary synthesis and in brain function at the neuronal network level.

The aim our research is to engineer bridges between cutting-edge optical technologies, optogenetic tools, and neuroscientists to acquire new, groundbreaking data on how brain circuits wire, process, and store information. We take an engineering approach to selection, adaptation, integration and optimization of technologies to enable neurophysiology experiments that were previously impossible. These technologies include computer-generated holography, calcium and membrane potential imaging, and non-linear optics. Our students receive intensive training in cross-disciplinary dialogue, experimental design and implementation, scientific writing, publication (early and often!) and presentation. We will develop your project together based on your background and what technologies you wish to develop.

Funding Notes

The 36-month position covers fees (£4,260 per annum) and a stipend (£16,777 per annum) for UK/EU citizens.
The position can start at any time up to October 2019, and is open until filled. Earlier applications will be considered first.

Candidates should please send a single pdf file, consisting of a 1-page motivation letter and CV to . In addition, candidates should organize two letters of reference to be sent to .

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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