Research Fellow

Full-time University of Birmingham in Science Email Job
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Job Description

Research Fellow – Behavioural analysis of structural brain plasticity and degeneration – Biosciences – 98709 – (210002E1)


Position Details

School of Biosciences

Location: University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham UK

As this vacancy has limited funding the starting salary will be Grade 7 SP27 £31,406 to Grade 7 SP29 £33,309

Grade 7

Full Time – Fixed term contract upto 60 months

Closing date 18th September 2022



A Research Fellow with experience in behavioural neurogenetics of Drosophila is sought.  The aim of the project is to investigate how experience and behaviour modify the brain throughout life, the impact that experience has on brain structure and how behaviour as a source of experience can impact further. We aim 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 focuses on behavioural neurogenetics of Drosophila adult, analysis and manipulation of neural circuits with confocal microscopy and could include molecular biology to generate transgenic tools.

This project is integrated into a larger project involving two other postdocs, within a Wellcome Trust funded research programme led by Professor A Hidalgo into “A molecular switch between structural brain plasticity and neurodegeneration”. This overall project builds on our findings on Drosophila neurotrophins and their Toll and Trk-like Kek receptors, from e.g. Foldi et al 2017 J Cell Biol 216, 1421; Li et al 2020 eLife 9:e52743.


Summary of Role

  •  Work within the Wellcome Trust Investigator Award research grant into “A molecular switch between structural brain plasticity and degeneration”, directed by Professor Alicia Hidalgo (University of Birmingham).
    •    Operate within the area of behavioural neurogenetics of Drosophila. This requires expertise in setting up and analysing behavioural tests, using appropriate analytical methods and software and skills in coding in e.g. R, MatLab, R, Pi, as required for the analysis of behaviour.
    •    Operate using also other Drosophila methods, such as genetics, immunostainings, laser scanning confocal microscopy and imaging.
    •    Design, plan and execute research experiments in the above areas and obtain research findings. Analyse and interpret research results and findings from the project, using automatic methods with appropriate software.
    •    Supervise and teach other members of the research team (e.g. Master and PhD students) and openly share expertise knowledge with team members (e.g. post-docs).
    •    Collaborate with other two post-docs working in this research programme, to deliver on project aims.
    •    Contribute to writing funding bids as and if appropriate, e.g. by generating preliminary data for funding bids 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, to carry out experiments, trouble-shoot, generate and analyse data, to deliver on this Wellcome Trust funded research project aims.
    •    Focus on, adapt and develop research objectives and engage in the intellectual aspects of the project, to enable cutting edge discoveries, under guidance of Professor Hidalgo.
    •    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 with 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, research seminars and other presentations, together with Prof Hidalgo and other team members. This includes contributing to writing research papers and reviews, attending conferences (which could be abroad) and presenting talks and posters, and giving periodic presentation of progress reports at group meetings.
    •    Contribute to writing bids for research funding, including the generation of preliminary data for funding bids by the PI.
    •    Supervise students (undergraduate, Masters and PhD students) on research related work and provide guidance to other lab members.
    •    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, as and if required.
    •    Contribute to public engagement activities of manifest benefit to the School, College, University and Hidalgo Lab, 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 completion) in Biology, Genetics, Neuroscience or related Life Sciences disciplines and/or equivalent research experience, are required.
    •    Experience and skills in working with and coding in appropriate software for analysis of behaviour, e.g. R, MatLab and/or related, data curation and storage in open source sites, access to platforms and databases is required.
    •    Experience also working with Drosophila behavioural neurogenetics is desirable and would be an advantage.
    •    Skills in immunohystochemistry, laser scanning confocal microscopy and imaging are desirable, but could be provided.
    •    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 and adapt to meet scientific goals and deliver on project aims.
    •    Ability to learn new methods and approaches and contribute to developing new methods, trouble shoot, solve problems and find creative solutions.
    •    Ability to assess resource requirements and use resources effectively.
    •    Ability 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 to 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

For informal enquiries contact Professor Alicia Hidalgo at



Valuing excellence, sustaining investment

We value diversity and inclusion at the University of Birmingham and welcome applications from all sections of the community and are open to discussions around all forms of flexible working

Primary Location



 Academic Non-clinical






Job Posting

 14.06.2022, 6:00:54 PM

Grade (for job description) Grade 7

Salary (Pay Basis)


Maximum Salary


Advert Close Date

 18.09.2022, 11:59:00 PM

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