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School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences

Establishing photokinetics studies in the super-resolution regime

The following fully-funded PhD studentship is available in the School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences with an expected start date of September 2023.

Research environment

The School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences at Queen Mary is one of the UK’s elite research centres, according to the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF). We offer a multi-disciplinary research environment and have approximately 180 PhD students working on projects in the biological and psychological sciences. Our students have access to a variety of research facilities supported by experienced staff, as well as a range of student support services.

In addition to working with the Draviam and Martin-Duran groups, the student will also work with Zeiss engineers offering opportunities for innovation and commercialisation of novel methods.

Training and development

Our PhD students become part of Queen Mary’s Doctoral College which provides training and development opportunities, advice on funding, and financial support for research. Our students also have access to a Researcher Development Programme designed to help recognise and develop key skills and attributes needed to effectively manage research, and to prepare and plan for the next stages of their career.

The student will obtain training for live cell imaging and also working with human cell lines and worm embryos. The goal is to uncover evolutionarily conserved developmental and sub-cellular regulatory mechanisms that control cell division.

Project details

Live-cell imaging of protein and RNA dynamics is a frontier research methodology that can transform our understanding of how subcellular structures are assembled and regulated in cells and embryos. Currently, there is no super-resolution microscope that can be used to study protein dynamics in the 60nm spatial regime - the major limitations are optical and computational tools that need to be optimised based on the specimen to be imaged. To address this challenge, ZEISS Research Microscopy Solutions (Cambridge) and the Draviam group (Queen Mary University of London) will collaboratively establish novel optical, biological, and computational methods necessary for reliably quantifying protein dynamics in vitro and in vivo.

The student will use an Elyra 7 equipped with Raptor lasers (designed by ZEISS) to standardise and generalise the imaging of protein complexes and subcellular structures in live animals and tissues. The primary goal will be to standardise methods for photobleaching and recovery studies in the super-resolution regime. For these experiments, the student will benefit from working with a variety of biological samples available within in the Center for Cell Dynamics consortium. ZEISS application engineers will provide training for the student to use the Elyra7 for live-imaging.

In addition to bringing the new technology to multiple research groups in London, this collaborative endeavour if successful will allow knowledge dissemination and commercialisation of key technological advances worldwide through ZEISS, and thus, expand the toolset for cell dynamics research.


The studentship is cofunded by QMUl and Zeiss. It will cover Home tuition fees, and provide an annual tax-free maintenance allowance for 3 years at the UKRI rate (£19,668 in 2022/23).

Eligibility and applying

Applications are invited from outstanding candidates interested in interdisciplinary lifesciences research, with or expecting to receive a first or upper-second class honours degree in an area relevant to the project, computational biology, biomedical sciences, biochemistry or a related field such as computer science or bioengineering.

A masters degree is desirable, but not essential. Past research experience (internships or summer studentships) will be valuable. Alternately, remote data analysis or coding experience can also be valuable.

Applicants from outside of the UK are required to provide evidence of their English language ability. Please see our English language requirements page for details: 

Informal enquiries about the project can be sent to Prof Viji Draviam ( Formal applications must be submitted through our online form by the stated deadline including a CV, personal statement and qualifications.

The School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences is committed to promoting diversity in science; we have been awarded an Athena Swan Silver Award. We positively welcome applications from underrepresented groups. 

Apply Online


  1. Song, X., Conti, D., Shrestha, R. L., Braun, D. & Draviam, V. M. Counteraction between Astrin-PP1 and Cyclin-B-CDK1 pathways protects chromosome-microtubule attachments independent of biorentation. Nat Commun 12, 7010 (2021).
  2. Conti, D., Gul, P., Islam, A., Martin-Duran, J. M., Pickersgill, R. W., Draviam, V. M., Kinetochores attached to microtubule-ends are stabilised by Astrin bound PP1 to ensure proper chromosome segregation. eLife (2019).
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