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BBSRC Targeted PhD Studentship (Fixed Term)


Applications are invited for a 4-year BBSRC Targeted PhD studentship in the area of Behavioural and Cognitive Neuroscience starting in October 2019 at the Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge.

The successful candidate will conduct research in mice under the supervision of Dr Jasper Poort at the Selective Vision Lab:(www.psychol.cam.ac.uk/svl/ & selectivevisionforaction.blogspot.co.uk/) and research in humans under the supervision of Prof Zoe Kourtzi at the Adaptive Brain Lab (www.abg.psychol.cam.ac.uk). The project is part of a larger collaboration with the labs of Prof. Ole Paulsen (Physiology, Development and Neuroscience Department) and Prof. Jeff Dalley (Psychology and Psychiatry) to link methods to measure inhibitory microcircuits in animals and humans.

The project focuses on understanding how the brain learns to select visual information that is most relevant for decision-making with particular emphasis on the role of inhibitory interneurons in suppressing irrelevant inputs. In humans, we will use MR techniques to measure both neural activity and the concentration of the main inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA and other neurotransmitters like glutamate across visual cortex and decision-making areas, combined with pharmacological manipulations of GABAergic signalling. In mice, we will use two-photon calcium imaging to simultaneously image activity in excitatory pyramidal cells and the major classes of inhibitory GABAergic interneurons, combined with optogenetic cell-type specific manipulation of neural activity. These two innovative approaches will allow for both wide-scale and detailed characterization of cortical circuits, and importantly, for cross-species translation and validation of results. In collaboration with computational researchers (Alan Turing Institute, Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit), we will develop new computational tools, including machine learning and neural network methods, to characterize the function of inhibitory circuits during learning. For the first year, the student will train through lab rotations to learn a variety of state-of-the-art brain imaging techniques and data analysis and computational modeling techniques. Following this, the student will continue their PhD research project.

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 4 years in the first instance.

Candidates should have a first or upper second class degree in neuroscience, computer science, engineering, mathematics, physics and meet the University of Cambridge entrance requirements - see: http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/entry-requirements

The studentship will cover a stipend at the standard Research Council rate (£14,777 per annum as at 2018/19), research costs and tuition fees at the UK/EU rate, and is available for UK and EEA students who meet the UK residency requirements. Students from EEA countries who do not meet the residency requirements may still be eligible for a fees-only award.

The studentship is part of the BBSRC DTP Programme. The first six months will be spent completing tailored training courses and two laboratory rotations, before progressing to a PhD. An important element of the Programme is a three-month internship to gain experience in a non-academic environment. The Programme organises a number of events, training courses and workshops to foster cohort development, skills enhancement and networking opportunities.

Candidates from outside the EEA are not eligible for this studentship and should not apply.

Informal enquiries about the project may be made to Dr. Jasper Poort jp816@cam.ac.uk and Professor Zoe Kourtzi zk240@cam.ac.uk

Application process:

To apply please:

Complete the University GRADSAF application form by 5 December 2018. The course code is BLPC22 (PhD in Psychology).

https://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/how-do-i-apply

With your GRADSAF application you will be required to submit (i) a draft research proposal outlining your suitability, why you are interested in pursuing a PhD in this area, your background and research interests. (ii) your CV stating your citizenship and years of residence in the UK (iii) copies of your academic transcripts (iv) details of two academic referees.

Please inform Mrs Dawn Ellis (dle31@cam.ac.uk) when you have made an application, please add 'BBSRC Targeted Studentship' to the subject line of your e-mail.

Please note the closing date for applications is 5 December 2018. Applications received after this time will not be considered.

Please quote reference PJ17221 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

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