Lund University, Faculty of Science, Department of Biology

Lund University was founded in 1666 and is repeatedly ranked among the world’s top universities. The University has around 45 000 students and more than 8 000 staff based in Lund, Helsingborg and Malmö. We are united in our efforts to understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition.

Lund University welcomes applicants with diverse backgrounds and experiences. We regard gender equality and diversity as a strength and an asset.

Subject description

Biology is the broad subject about all living things. It encompasses everything from processes at the molecular and cellular level to global processes at ecosystem level. The subject is divided into a range of sub-disciplines and specialisations. The PhD programme at the Department of Biology includes many of these specialisations, from molecular biology to applied ecology, from viruses and individual cells to evolutionary biology and global biodiversity. Taking on research studies at the Department of Biology generally means focusing on a delimited part of the research area of biology and may include field studies, experiments, theoretical studies, or a combination of these.

Work duties

The main duties of doctoral students are to devote themselves to their research studies which includes participating in research projects and third cycle courses. The work duties can also include teaching and other departmental duties, up to 20%.

Insects perform complex navigational tasks using few neurons, making them ideal models for understanding the neural basis of navigation. This project is embedded in a multidisciplinary project that goes beyond understanding these processes and is aimed at developing novel insect brain inspired neuromorphic computers. The aim is to develop an autonomous decision making circuit that is directly combined with sensors, all using the same nanowire platform and insect inspired neural nodes. We are directly exploiting biological insights to guide computational model, hardware simulation and hardware development. 
The aim of this PhD project is to gain insight into the processing of visual input signals upstream of the central decision making circuit in the insect brain (the central complex (CX)) that is required to implement higher level processes (sensory integration and working memory) in this brain region. We will use bumblebees as our model system, as they use a range of sensory cues to perform complex navigation behaviors, and CX connectomics data is available to effectively integrate new functional data. The student will perform intracellular electrophysiological recordings from restrained and behaving bees, combined with computational modeling. These recordings will focus on two pathways: The visual pathway providing a range of different compass cues to support CX head direction coding, and the self-motion pathway (visual and proprioceptive) that provides forward and rotational velocity cues to support path integration in the CX. Specifically, the student will use bumblebees to analyze the parallel visual pathways between the anterior optic tubercle and CX, record from photoreceptors and peripheral integration stages for polarized light sensing, and study the integration of self-motion cues in the noduli of the CX. Furthermore, a biologically constrained computational model for transformation of polarized light signals into head direction signal will be developed using data obtained in the project.

Admission requirements 

A person meets the general admission requirements for third-cycle courses and study programmes if he or she: 

•  has been awarded a second-cycle qualification, or

•  has satisfied the requirements for courses comprising at least 240 credits of which at least 60 credits were awarded in the second cycle, or

•  has acquired substantially equivalent knowledge in some other way in Sweden or abroad.

A person meets the specific admission requirements for third cycle studies in Biology if he or she has passed an independent project (for example a degree project) of at least 30 credits in a relevant subject and have good oral and written proficiency in English.

Additional requirements

•  A MSC in neurobiology or a closely related area.

•  Excellent oral and written proficiency in English.

•  Demonstrated ability for proactive and independent work.

•  Practical experience in electrophysiological work in insects.

•  Demonstrated interest in both biological work and theoretical work at the interface of biology and engineering/computer science

In addition to the mandatory requirements, documented experience in the following areas will be considered as strong merits:

•  Experience in data processing, statistical computing, and scripting in Matlab or another programming language (e.g. Python)

•  Experience in intracellular recordings from insect brains

•  Detailed knowledge of insect navigation and visual processing circuits

Assessment criteria

Selection for third-cycle studies is based on the student’s potential to profit from such studies. The assessment of potential is made primarily on the basis of academic results from the first and second cycle. Special attention is paid to the following: 

•  Knowledge and skills relevant to the thesis project and the subject of study. 

•  An assessment of ability to work independently and to formulate and tackle research problems. 

•  Written and oral communication skills

•  Other experience relevant to the third-cycle studies, for example professional experience.

Consideration will also be given to strong collaborative skills, drive and independence, and how the applicant, through his or her experience and skills, is deemed to have the abilities necessary for successfully completing the third cycle programe. 

Terms of employment

Only those admitted to third cycle studies may be appointed to a doctoral studentship. Third cycle studies consist of full-time studies for 4 years. A doctoral studentship is a fixed-term employment of a maximum of 5 years (including 20% departmental duties). Doctoral studentships are regulated in the Higher Education Ordinance (1993:100), chapter 5, 1–7 §§.

Instructions on how to apply

Applications shall be written in English and include a cover letter stating the reasons why you are interested in the postgraduate education programme and in what way the research project corresponds to your interests and educational background. The application must also contain a CV, degree certificate or equivalent, and other documents you wish to be considered (grade transcripts, contact information for references, letters of recommendation, etc.).

Type of employment Temporary position
First day of employment 1st of September 2022 or according to agreement
Salary Monthly salary
Number of positions 1
Full-time equivalent 100
City Lund
County Skåne län
Country Sweden
Reference number PA2022/2481
  • Stanley Heinze, researcher, +46462221417,
Union representative
  • OFR/ST:Fackförbundet ST:s kansli, 046-2229362
  • SACO:Saco-s-rådet vid Lunds universitet, 046-2229364
  • SEKO: Seko Civil, 046-2229366
Published 01.Jul.2022
Last application date 22.Jul.2022 11:59 PM CEST

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