Job ID: 98806

Fully funded 4-year PhD studentship at the University of Sheffield

Position: Ph.D. Student

Deadline: 6 January 2023

Employment Start Date: 1 October 2023

Contract Length: 4 years

City: Sheffield

Country: United Kingdom

Institution: University of Sheffield

Department: School of Biosciences


Compartmentalised synaptic plasticity underlying associative memory
Project details
If a neuron is connected to multiple partners, and it needs to change its connection strength with one partner but not the others, how does it do that? That is, what mechanisms underlie the specificity of synaptic plasticity?We are studying a form of synaptic plasticity that underlies how Drosophila (fruit flies) learn to associate a specific odour with reward or punishment. Here, learning makes neurons called “Kenyon cells” reduce neurotransmitter release onto some neurons but not other neurons, even though these contrasting synapses are right next to each other. How can such exquisite synaptic specificity be possible in such a small space?

We’ll test the hypothesis that synaptic plasticity signalling takes place in spatially confined “microdomains”. We’ll do this using a combination of two-photon imaging to record neural activity, plus analysing the fly connectome and using new super-resolution techniques like expansion microscopy (where the brain is blown up to 4x its normal size, revealing otherwise-invisible details).

This studentship is funded by the BBSRC White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership for 4 years starting October 2023 (start date flexible). It includes tuition fees, a tax-free stipend starting at £17,668/year (adjusted for inflation each year), and a 3 month non-academic work placement. International students are eligible but only home fees are paid.

About the lab
The project is based in the lab of Dr Andrew Lin in the School of Biosciences at the University of Sheffield with co-supervision by Prof Mikko Juusola. The Lin lab is funded by the BBSRC and a Wellcome Trust Discovery Award and has dedicated two-photon microscopes and an electrophysiology rig. The lab also benefits from a light microscope core facility and a fly facility with technical support for food and stock maintenance.

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