Research Fellow (Plasticity and Degeneration of Neural Circuits)


Birmingham, United Kingdom


  • Posted on: 03rd Dec 2021
  • Salary: £31,406 to Grade 7 SP30 £34,304
  • REF: 98707
  • Closes: 30th January 2022
  • Contract Type: Permanent
  • Hours: Full Time

Summary of Role

A Research Fellow with experience in neural circuit manipulation and analysis of Drosophila is sought. The Fellow will create and contribute to the creation of knowledge by undertaking research activities within a Wellcome Trust funded research programme led by Professor A Hidalgo into a molecular switch between structural brain plasticity and neurodegeneration.

The project will investigate how the brain changes throughout life, the impact that experience has on brain structure and how behaviour as a source of experience can impact further. The aim is to discover and test underlying molecular mechanisms that regulate structural brain plasticity and neurodegeneration, and link molecules to cells, neural circuits, neurites, synapses and behaviour.

This project will use only the fruit-fly Drosophila as a model organism. This post will involves using cutting-edge Drosophila genetics for the analysis and manipulation of neural circuits, molecular biology to generate transgenic tools, immunostainings, laser scanning confocal microscopy, optogenetics and live-imaging, analysis of neural circuit plasticity and degeneration, and behavioural experiments.


  • Work within the Wellcome Trust Investigator Award research grant into “A molecular switch between structural brain plasticity and neurodegeneration”, directed by Professor Alicia Hidalgo (University of Birmingham).
  • Work in collaboration with other two post-docs on this research programme to collectively and creatively deliver on project aims.
  • Operate within the area of neurobiology of Drosophila, which spans neuroscience, sophisticated cutting-edge genetics, molecular biology, immunostainings, laser scanning confocal microscopy and 2-photon live imaging microscopy, behaviour.
  • Design, plan and execute research experiments in the above areas and obtain research findings. Analyse and interpret research results and findings from the project.
  • Stay up to date with findings and methods in the discipline, by attending conferences and reading relevant scientific literature.
  • Supervise and teach other members of the research team (e.g. Master and PhD students) and openly share expertise and knowledge with team members.
  • Contribute to writing funding bids as and if appropriate. This can include generating preliminary data for funding bids written by the PI.
  • Contribute to licensing or spin out deals with demonstrated commercial success (such as IP generated) should the opportunity emerge.
  • Contribute to the public understanding of neuroscience, by participating in outreach and public engagement activities.

Main Duties / Responsibilities

  • Work under the direct supervision of Professor Alicia Hidalgo and demonstrating initiative and skills to carry out experiments, trouble-shoot, solve problems and analyse data, to deliver on this Wellcome Trust funded research project aims.
  • Work in collaboration with other two post-docs on this research programme to collectively and creatively deliver on project aims.
  • Develop research objectives and engage in the intellectual aspects of the project, contributing to project direction and proposals for own or team research, under guidance of Professor Hidalgo as/when required and as science dictates.
  • Design, plan and execute experiments to generate data for the project and analyse and interpret data.
  • Collect research data through a variety of research methods, including scientific experimentation and keeping up with the relevant literature.
  • Contribute to developing new experiments, techniques and methods, to trouble shooting and optimising protocols to ensure experiments run smoothly and to find creative solutions to solve scientific problems.
  • Periodically and regularly write findings and prepare figures to facilitate preparation of research publications.
  • Apply knowledge and critical thinking to develop new intellectual understanding.
  • Deal and aim to resolve problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and meeting project deadlines.
  • Disseminate research findings for publication. This includes writing or contributing to writing research papers and reviews, giving research seminars and other presentations (e.g. periodic lab group meetings and departmental meetings), attending conferences (virtual or could be abroad) and presenting talks and posters.
  • Contribute to writing bids for research funding, including the generation of preliminary data.
  • Supervise students (undergraduate, Masters and PhD students) on research related work and provide guidance to other lab members – PhD students, Post-docs and technicians. This includes teaching research techniques and providing guidance as required, under the guidance of Professor A Hidalgo.
  • Provide guidance, as required, to support staff and any students who may be assisting with the research, contributing to the lab scientific, cooperative, culture.
  • Undertake management/administration arising from research as required (e.g. writing reports, writing lab protocols, curate data in digital platforms, etc).
  • Undertake careful and regular data management and curation, of own data and of students’ or other team members’ data that work under their supervision.
  • Contribute to Departmental/School research-related activities and research-related administration.
  • Contribute to public engagement activities of manifest benefit to the School, College and the University, often under supervision of project leader Prof. A Hidalgo. This can involve presentations/talks for the public, hands-on events for the public such as in the science museum, school visits, videos and zoom interactions, etc.
  • Participate in outreach activities to disseminate research findings to a wider public.
  • Promote equality and values diversity acting as a role model and fostering an inclusive working culture.

Person Specification

  • First degree in Biology, Genetics, Neuroscience or related Life Sciences disciplines and a PhD or near completionin Biology, Genetics, Neuroscience or related Life Sciences disciplines. Skilled candidates with post-doctoral experience in Drosophila neurobiology are particularly sought.
  • Experience working with Drosophila is essential.
  • Skills in genetics, immunohystochemistry, laser scanning confocal microscopy and imaging are required.
  • Skills in cutting-edge Drosophila neurogenetics (e.g. intersectional genetics, connectivity tools, clonal analysis, optogenetics, calcium imaging, etc.), manipulation, visualisation and analysis of neural circuits and connectivity, and manipulation and visualisation of neuronal activity in living samples with 2-photon microscopy are highly desirable and would be an advantage.
  • High level analytical capability and understanding of the scientific process.
  • Independent intellectual critical thinking skills.
  • Ability to communicate complex information clearly, in English, in writing and in visually informative presentations, orally and in writing.
  • Ability to learn new methods and approaches and also contribute to developing new methods, trouble shoot, solve problems and find creative solutions.
  • Ability to learn and adapt to meet scientific goals and deliver on project aims.
  • Ability to assess resource requirements and use resources effectively.
  • Ability to think independently, to contribute to the planning and organising of the research programme and specific research project
  • Ability to co-ordinate own work with others to avoid conflict or duplication of effort
  • Excellent team-work attitude, readiness to learn from others and teach others and contribute to common scientific goals.
  • Knowledge of the protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010, and how to actively ensure in day to day activity in own area that those with protected characteristics are treated equally and fairly
  • This post is for a scientist with approximately 6 years’ experience working as a research scientist in the lab.
  • The post-holder will be supervised directly by Professor Alicia Hidalgo and they will meet periodically to discuss project direction, plans and data.
  • The post-holder will communicate verbally with Professor Hidalgo, in writing (e.g. periodic reports), through presentations, posters and by writing scientific research articles and reviews.
  • The post-holder is expected to attend and participate in scientific research conferences (online or through travelling, which could be outside UK) and present their work when mature enough to do so.
  • The post-holder will supervise others and will communicate in such a manner (verbally, in writing, etc) to help others work effectively.
  • The post-holder is expected to communicate and discuss openly with Prof Hidalgo, and others as appropriate, problems encountered. For experimental and technical problems, the post-holder is expected to trouble shoot and find creative scientific solutions.
  • The post-holder is expected to organise and manage effectively their own time in order to deliver on project aims. They are also expected to help teach others they supervise to organise their own time productively.
  • The post-holder will be responsible for delivering on project aims by carrying out experiments, trouble shooting, acquiring and analysing data to completion and writing or contributing to writing papers for publication.
  • The post-holder will be responsible for keeping on top of the literature relevant to the project.
  • The post-holder will be responsible for finding out how to solve scientific questions, problems or applying or developing methodology, including by acquiring new skills.
  • The post-holder will be responsible for storing and curating their own data in the University server and external drives and ensuring no data loss occurs.

Informal enquires toProfessor Alicia

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