Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship Competition

Interested in applying for independent funding to come and work on structural colour evolution, genetics or development (or anything aligned to our research interests)?

The Leverhulme Trust annually supports a number of Early Career Fellowships (https://www.leverhulme.ac.uk/funding/grant-schemes/early-career-fellowships).

The 2018 round opens on 1 January 2018. The closing date for applications is 1 March 2018

The scheme is aimed at those who are at a relatively early stage of their academic careers but with a proven record of research.  Applications are invited from those with a doctorate who had their doctoral viva not more than four years from the application closing date. Hence those who had their viva before 1 March 2014 are not eligible unless they have since had a career break.

The Trust will contribute 50% of each Fellow’s total salary costs up to a maximum of £25,000 per annum with the balance to be paid by the host institution. Each fellow may also request annual research expenses of up to £6,000 to further their research activities. Due to the financial commitment that the University has to make, there will be an internal competition to identify applicants whom the department/faculty will support.

The internal deadline for APS applications is 5pm Friday 1st December.

Each dept in the Faculty of Science can submit 1 person to Faculty for potential support. The Faculty will then select which candidate(s) to support. So, there is a three-step process (a) selection by APS followed by (b) selection by Faculty (c) submitting application to the leverhulme.

If you are interested in apply for one of these to come and work with me please get in touch! I would be particularly interested in anyone with an interest in working on the evolution, genetics or development of structural colours, but could support any candidates with a strong CV and interests that overlap with mine.

NERC funded PhD opportunity

We are seeking an enthusiastic student with interests in evolution, developmental biology and/or biophysics to work on a project investigating the developmental mechanisms controlling iridescent structural colouration in Heliconius butterflies. Iridescent colour in these butterflies is produced by coherent scattering of light by sub-micron scale structures. Structural colours are some of the brightest and most impressive in nature, yet almost nothing is known about how these very precise structures are controlled during the development of the butterfly wing scale.

The Heliconius butterflies are an excellent system to investigate this process because they are very diverse in their wing colours and patterns, including a small number of species that exhibit iridescent blue/green. Comparing developmental processes between butterflies with and without iridescence can help us to understand how iridescence is produced and the evolutionary changes involved. The project would build on genetic work being done in the lab, identifying genes controlling differences in iridescence, by investigating how these genes control scale structure formation.

The project can be tailored to the interests of the student but could include a range of cutting-edge techniques including fluorescence confocal microscopy, super-resolution microscopy, electron microscopy, small-angle x-ray scattering and CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing. It could also involve bioinformatic analysis of high-throughput sequence data, to investigate gene expression.

iridescent Heliconius wing scales

Contact Nicola for further information about the project.

The project is co-supervised by Gareth Fraser and Andrew Parnell.

If successful, the student would be fully funded for a minimum of 3.5 years, studentships cover: (i) a tax-free stipend at the standard Research Council rate (at least £14,553 per annum for 2018-2019), (ii) research costs, and (iii) tuition fees at the UK/EU rate. Studentship(s) are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements. Students from EU countries who do not meet residency requirements may still be eligible for a fees-only award.

This PhD project is part of the NERC funded Doctoral Training Partnership “ACCE” (Adapting to the Challenges of a Changing Environment), a partnership between the Universities of Sheffield, Liverpool, York and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.
Selection process: Shortlisting will take place as soon as possible after the closing date, and successful applicants will be notified promptly. Shortlisted applicants will be invited for an interview to take place at the University of Sheffield the w/c 12th February 2018.

Apply here. Deadline: Tuesday, January 09, 2018

New lab members!

The new term brings new group members! A new PhD Student, Juan Enciso, will shortly be arriving to join us from Colombia. There are 2 new Masters students, Liam Moffat, who is doing an MRes, and Jenni Smith, who is in the 4th year of an MBiolSci and spent the summer helping Gabby with her research in Ecuador.

We also have 3 undergraduates doing their research projects in the lab: Emma Hazelwood, Fern Wilkinson and Hannah Bainbridge. I am also very grateful to 2 undergraduate students who have volunteered to help look after our butterfly stocks: Sophie Smith and Jess Eaton-Fearne.

 

Structural colour

Here is a video I made to demonstrate structural colour. The blue colour on these butterflies’ wings is produced when light passes through nano-metre scale structures and the interfaces between these and the surrounding air. When ethanol is dropped onto the wings these air spaces are filled in and so the colour changes. The video is at 2x actual speed, so you can see that the colour comes back when the ethanol evaporates.

Congratulations to graduating students!

Congratulations to the students who graduated on Monday! In particular to Anna Puttick and Thomas Gomersall who did their Masters projects in my lab, and to Beth Moore and Will Wood, who did their honours projects in my lab on colour preference and foraging behaviour in butterflies. Beth is going on to do a PhD and Will is starting a Masters next year! Good luck in your future endeavours!

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships

There is currently an open call for Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships (Deadline 14th September 2017). Please get in touch with Nicola if you are interested in applying for one of these to come and join the group. Eligible candidates are post-doctoral researchers wanting to move to the UK from another country (either inside or outside Europe). I would be particularly interested in post-docs with experience in evolutionary developmental biology who are interested in working on structural colour, but feel free to get in touch if you have any interests that you feel overlap with mine.

NERC funded PhD position

I am currently advertising for a PhD student with interests in evolution and behaviour to work on a project investigating the role of iridescent structural colour in predator avoidance and mate choice in Heliconius butterflies, co-supervised by Mike Speed, Institute of Integrative Biology, Liverpool.

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The bright wing colours of these butterflies act as warnings to predators and mimicry between species facilitates predator learning and reduces attack rates. Wing colours are also used for mate choice and attraction. The main colours used are red, yellow and black, due to pigments, but a small number of species also exhibit iridescent blue/green, due to sub-micron scale structures. The role of these colours in deterring predators and attracting mates is less well understood. The project can be tailored to the interests of the student but would likely involve experiments using captive butterfly populations in South/Central America and the UK, and could involve experiments with wild or captive avian predators or theoretical modelling. The project would also tie in with ongoing work on the genetic basis of these traits.

If successful, the student would be fully funded for a minimum of 3.5 years, studentships cover: (i) a tax-free stipend at the standard Research Council rate (at least £14,296 per annum for 2017-2018), (ii) research costs, and (iii) tuition fees at the UK/EU rate. Studentship(s) are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements. Students from EU countries who do not meet residency requirements may still be eligible for a fees-only award.

This PhD project is part of the NERC funded Doctoral Training Partnership “ACCE” (Adapting to the Challenges of a Changing Environment). This is a partnership between the Universities of Sheffield, Liverpool, York and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. Further information and details of how to apply are here. The closing date is the 9th of January 2017. Interested candidates are also welcome to contact me for further information.

Selection process: Shortlisting will take place as soon as possible after the closing date and may involve an informal interview. The shortlisted applicant will be notified promptly and invited for a formal interview to take place at the University of Sheffield the w/c 13th February 2017.

New students

A warm welcome to the new students joining the lab. Anna Puttick and Thomas Gomersall will be doing their 4th year MBiolSci projects in the lab and Beth Moore, Grace Holland and William Wood are doing their 3rd year undergraduate research projects. Also welcome to Fern Wilkinson, a 2nd year student, who is going to be helping to maintain our butterfly stocks. Thanks Fern!

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