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Nanoscale Mapping of Light-Harvesting proteins with Video Speed Microscopy


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Monday 1 April 2024
Project start date
Tuesday 1 October 2024
Country eligibility
International (open to all nationalities, including the UK)
Competition funded
Source of funding
University of Leeds
Dr Peter Adams and Dr George Heath
School of Physics and Astronomy
Research groups/institutes
Molecular and Nanoscale Physics
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

Photosynthesis plays a pivotal role in sustaining life on our planet. Are you interested in exploring the inner workings of key proteins that capture solar energy, at an unprecedented level of detail? <br /> <br /> The Challenge: Photosynthetic proteins are the heart of the energy conversion processes that power our world. Understanding the dynamic behaviors of these proteins is a frontier in the quest for sustainable energy solutions, understanding of food crops and a deeper comprehension of fundamental biology. High-Speed Atomic Force Microscopy (HS-AFM) is a revolutionary tool that allows us to observe photosynthetic proteins at video rate (50 fps), at nanometer-scale resolution. This microscope is a game-changing technology, offering unparalleled insights into the dynamic processes of photosynthesis and opening doors to new solar energy technology. <br /> <br /> In this PhD project, you will:<br /> &bull; Master HS-AFM techniques, acquiring expertise in operating this world-class microscope and data acquisition methods and becoming a pioneer in the field.<br /> &bull; Explore the Unseen, to visualize and analyze photosynthetic proteins at an unprecedented level, unveiling their dynamic behavior and revealing key insights into energy conversion.<br /> &bull; Develop Cutting-Edge Approaches by working in a team to further develop novel analysis methods and algorithms to extract invaluable data from HS-AFM images and videos.<br /> &bull; Collaborate with researchers from around the world, working at the intersection of biophysics, chemistry, and renewable energy.<br /> This PhD would be suitable for students with an interest in biophysics, physical chemistry, membrane proteins and/or advanced microscopes.

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in Planned Course of Study section that you are applying for <em><strong>PHD Physics &amp; Astronomy FT</strong></em> and&nbsp;in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is <em><strong>Nanoscale Mapping of Light-Harvesting proteins with Video Speed Microscopy</strong></em>&nbsp;as well as&nbsp;<a href="">Dr&nbsp;George Heath</a> as your proposed supervisor&nbsp;and in the finance section, please state clearly&nbsp;<em><strong>the funding that you are applying for is School of Physics &amp; Astronomy Studentship (UK Only), if you are self-funding or externally sponsored (including the name of your sponsor)</strong></em>.</p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p><em>As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Across all Faculties we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+ and people with disabilities. Applicants will always be selected based on merit and ability.</em></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">Applications will be considered on an ongoing basis. &nbsp;Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the supervisors for an informal discussion before making a formal application. &nbsp;We also advise that you apply at the earliest opportunity as the application and selection process may close early, should we receive a sufficient number of applications or that a suitable candidate is appointed.</p> <p>Please note that you must provide the following documents in support of your application by the closing date of 1 April 2024:</p> <ul> <li>Full Transcripts of all degree study or if in final year of study, full transcripts to date</li> <li>Personal Statement outlining your interest in the project</li> <li>CV</li> </ul>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. The criteria for entry for some research degrees may be higher, for example, several faculties, also require a Masters degree. Applicants are advised to check with the relevant School prior to making an application. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Graduate School prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p style="margin-bottom:12px"><strong>Fully Funded 3.5 years (UK only) &ndash;&nbsp;</strong>A highly competitive School of Physics &amp; Astronomy Studentship awards an annual tax-free stipend of &pound;18,622 (based on the 2023/24 stipend rate). The award will also cover the academic fees. Funding is only available to applicants eligible for UK fee-rated status.</p> <p><strong>Self-Funded or externally sponsored international students are welcome to apply</strong></p> <p><strong>International: </strong>The&nbsp;<a href="">China Scholarship Council - University of Leeds Scholarship</a>&nbsp;is available to nationals of China (now closed for 2024/25 entry). <a href="">Alumni Bursary</a> is available to graduates of the University of Leeds.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Important:&nbsp;</strong> Any costs associated with your arrival at the University of Leeds to start your PhD including flights, immigration health surcharge/medical insurance and Visa costs are <em><strong>not</strong></em> covered under these studentships.&nbsp;</p> <p>Please refer to the <a href="">UKCISA</a> website for information regarding Fee Status for Non-UK Nationals.</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information on the project do not hesitate to contact any of the project supervisors by email (e.g. George Heath at&nbsp;<a href=""></a>&nbsp;and/or Peter Adams at We are always happy to discuss scientific questions with pro-active candidates. For details on how to apply and admin arrangements, please contact Doctoral College Admissions by email:&nbsp;<a href="">m</a><a href=""></a>.</p>

<h3 class="heading heading--sm">Linked funding opportunities</h3>
<h3 class="heading heading--sm">Linked research areas</h3>