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