Vacancy Reference: 1882486
Job Title: Research Fellow
Department: Sainsbury Wellcome Centre
Salary: £36,770- £44,388 per annum inclusive of London Allowance.
Hours: 36.5 per week (full-time, 1.00 FTE)
Reports to: Professor Troy Margrie
The Sainsbury Wellcome Centre (SWC) brings together world-leading scientists to investigate how brain circuits process information to generate perception, form memories and guide behaviour. Developed through the vision and partnership of the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and Wellcome, and with substantial investment from these partners, the mission of the SWC is to generate experimentally testable theories of brain function.
The Centre comprises 12 highly interdisciplinary experimental research groups accommodated in a new, purpose-designed building, offering an outstanding and unparalleled research environment. SWC scientists use a broad spectrum of the latest advances in molecular and cellular biology, imaging, electrophysiology and behavioural techniques and enjoy state-of-the-art research laboratories, cutting-edge scientific equipment, technologically-advanced prototyping and fabrication laboratories and custom in-house high-performance computing facilities. The full complement of scientists in the Centre is expected to reach around 150 together with circa 50 dedicated support staff.
SWC Centre is part of the UCL School of Life and Medical Sciences (LMS). LMS brings together four UCL Faculties to create one of the largest and most prestigious aggregations of academics in biomedical, life and population health sciences worldwide. The School has a global reputation for teaching, informed by cutting-edge research.
SWC is most closely linked with the Faculties of Brain Science and Life Sciences, and is aligned administratively with Life Sciences. The Faculty of Life Sciences leadership team works closely with the SWC leadership to support and enable their mission and facilitate research excellence.
Further details about UCL can be found at www.ucl.ac.uk.
Neuroscience is entering a new and exciting period in which it will be possible to decipher the neural codes underlying perception, cognition and action. The Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour is positioned at the heart of this development
The Centre, located within University College London (UCL) and close to its main campus in central London, fosters a culture of bold, innovative research and collaboration. Experimental groups benefit from interaction with the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit located within the Centre, facilitating collaborations in data analysis, computational modelling and theory.
SWC staff interface closely with academic staff within the Faculties of Life Sciences and Brain Sciences and are part of the UCL Neuroscience Domain which brings together over 450 principal investigators and offers extensive opportunities for interaction and collaboration. The Centre offers additional opportunities for collaboration, networking and intellectual stimulation through its visitor programme, regular seminar series and the hosting of world-class scientific conferences and workshops.
The Centre provides extensive conceptual and methodological bridges between areas of existing neuroscience strength at UCL, from which it directly benefits. Existing work at UCL is closely interwoven via the cross-cutting themes of development, behaviour and plasticity, and with the creation and use of transgenic models. A strong culture of close interaction between experimental and theoretical approaches is a thread running through the Centre, tying together complex phenomena at different levels of description, by linking informational and computational concepts to their circuit and cellular counterparts, all in relation to model behaviours.
The Centre and its staff are provided with significant administrative, technical and scientific support. There are dedicated managers for the Centre’s scientific support services, including for its state-of-the-art prototype and fabrication laboratories, animal facilities and high-end computing facilities, and on-site managers responsible for the building, its maintenance, facilities and services.
The SWC offers staff an award-winning work environment in the heart of Fitzrovia with an on-site brasserie, changing facilities, secure bicycle storage, and access to pleasant outdoor spaces. The Centre also offers the full range of UCL staff benefits, including a generous annual leave entitlement, occupational pension schemes, excellent family-friendly policies such as occupational shared parental pay, a work-life balance policy, and a range of financial benefits such as a season ticket loan scheme and staff discounts. Further information can be found online:
The Margrie lab is interested in how the brain uses different types of sensory information to navigate in complex spatial environments. Most recently the lab has focused on the primary visual and retrosplenial cortices that are reciprocally connected and convey visuo-vestibular signals. Other interests include how sensory experience influences decision making involved in escape behaviour. There is also significant interest in developing new model systems for behaviour and physiology and they work closely with the Branco Lab and the London Zoo in this area. From a technical perspective the lab utilizes behavioural approaches and an array of state-of-the-art recording and analytical tools for both physiology and computational anatomy. These include 3p microscopy and head-mounted 2P, in vitro and in vivo whole-cell recording, NeuroPixel probes, serial EM and 2P for anatomy and analytical pipelines developed under BrainGlobe.
Project Title: Functional properties of circuits involved in ego- versus allocentric based navigation.
SWC is looking for an outstanding postdoctoral researcher to join the Margrie laboratory.
Candidates will have extensive experience in cellular and/or systems neuroscience, and ideally in the hardware and software development required for the design and control of behavioural assays and recordings either in vitro or in vivo. Candidates will be expected to have a keen interest in working on novel animal models that are ideally suited for understanding the physiological mechanisms of ego- and allo-centric based navigation. They will be expected to work in a highly collaborative and multidisciplinary research environment, and will be responsible for organising training and dissemination workshops for new technology.
The post is funded until 01 June 2025 in the first instance.
The post-holder will be expected to actively follow all UCL policies and procedures including Equal Opportunities, maintain an awareness of Fire and Health & Safety Regulations, carry out duties in a resource efficient way as well as actively support UCL’s Sustainability policies and objectives, attend management meetings and undertake such training and development as may be required for the post.
All staff are required to act professionally, co-operatively and flexibly in line with the requirements of the post.
The selection criteria outline the skills, knowledge and experience required in order to perform this role. Applicants will be selected based on how well they demonstrate that they meet the essential, and if appropriate, desirable criteria for this particular role.
|Qualifications, experience and knowledge|
|PhD in Neuroscience or a cognate area.||Essential|
|Proven track-record of research (e.g. publication record) in an appropriate area.||Essential|
|Experience in relevant software industry (e.g. AR/VR, computer vision, interactive computing, etc.).||Essential|
|Software architecture experience (framework development).||Essential|
|Computer programming expertise (C#, Python).||Essential|
|Experience with long term planning of experiments and time lines.||Essential|
|Experience in organisation of scientific seminars and scientific community events.||Essential|
|Experience in rodent behavioural assays.||Essential|
|Experience with in vivo surface and depth electrophysiology recordings.||Desirable|
|Skills and abilities|
|Strong written and oral communication skills, along with good presentation skills.||Essential|
|Excellent analytical skills and understanding of statistics.||Essential|
|Able to prioritise, manage your own time, and multi-task and integrate the demands of a range of different activities and deadlines in parallel.||Essential|
|Good teaching/mentoring skills.||Essential|
|Proven ability or experience with communicating science to lay audiences.||Essential|
|Personal attributes and UCL Core Behaviours|
|Able to work effectively alone, but also contribute and work well as part of a team.||Essential|
|Accountable, reliable and resourceful.||Essential|
|Works ethically, legally and with integrity.||Essential|
|An understanding and appreciation of the mission and research environment of the SWC, and a commitment to the establishment of the SWC as a world-leading research centre.||Essential|
|Able and willing to work flexibly to meet the needs of the Centre.||Essential|
If you have any queries relating to the vacancy or how to apply please contact the SWC HR team, firstname.lastname@example.org
To begin the online application process, please access the advertisement by searching for it on the UCL vacancy search page using the vacancy reference number, and click on the “Apply Now” button at the bottom of the vacancy advertisement.
Please complete the online application form, and use the supporting statement section to outline how you meet the selection criteria. Applications will be shortlisted based on the strength of the examples used to demonstrate that the applicant meets the selection criteria.
Please note that there is a limit of 2,500 words to explain how you meet the essential criteria, and a limit of 2,500 words to explain how you meet the desirable criteria.
In addition to completing the online application form please also upload the following supporting documents to your application:
All candidates will be notified of the outcome of their application.
Confirmation of appointment will be subject to receipt of satisfactory references, verification of proof of right to work in the UK and to satisfactory pre-employment health and security screening.
Starting salary will be on the Grade 7 scale. Staff incrementally progress along the salary scale; the effective date of incremental progression is 01 August each year. You must have completed the period of service stipulated in your contract of employment (typically your probationary period) to be eligible to increment. Incremental progression does not include the discretionary contribution points on the salary scale. Cost of living pay awards are negotiated nationally and are normally effective from 1 August each year.
Post-holders will be eligible to join the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), subject to the Scheme's rules and eligibility conditions.
Conditions of Service for Research, Teaching and Professional Services Staff can be found online here.
Appointments are subject to a probationary period of 9 months.
UCL’s full time working week is 36.5 hours per week. SWC is willing to consider flexible-working arrangements, subject to discussion and agreement with your line manager.
Pre-agreed overtime will be offered as equivalent time off in lieu.
Staff are entitled to 27 days annual leave per year (pro rata for part-time staff). In addition, staff are entitled to 8 days public and statutory holidays, and around 6 UCL closure days with pay per year.
The Sainsbury Wellcome Centre is located in the heart of London around five minutes’ walk from the main UCL campus. The mainline railway stations at Euston, King’s Cross, St Pancras, Marylebone and Paddington are within easy reach as are the London Underground stations located at Warren Street and Goodge Street.
SWC is committed to the promotion of equality, diversity and inclusion for its staff, students and visitors and is fully supportive of UCL’s policy; the full equality policy statement is available online.
SWC is currently working towards an Athena SWAN award.
Gatsby is a Trust set up by David Sainsbury to realise his charitable objectives.
We focus our support on a limited number of areas:
• Plant science research
• Neuroscience research
• Science and engineering education
• Economic development in Africa
• Public policy research and advice
• The Arts
We are proactive in devising projects to achieve our aims.
We are enthusiastic about supporting innovation.
We are analytical as we believe it is important to understand the opportunities and problems we tackle.
We take a long-term view as we do not think much can be achieved by short, one-off projects.
We are always eager to form partnerships with organisations who share our goals.
“Supporting world-class theoretical and experimental research on neural circuits and behaviour, and activities which further enhance our investments in this area.”
Gatsby’s pioneering investment in neuroscience began in the 90s with the establishment of the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit (GCNU) at UCL. A small number of research projects and meetings were supported across the UK over the following years until in 2007 the Trustees made the decision to expand Gatsby’s efforts, specifically to link the GCNU with experimental neuroscience. For this new endeavour Gatsby has continued to be bold and innovative. In a funding partnership with Wellcome it has developed a new research institute, the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre (SWC) for Neural Circuits and Behaviour at UCL. As part of this new initiative the Foundation has invested in a number of innovative collaborative research programmes in the broad area of neural circuits and behaviour around the world. These programmes reflect the types of research we envision in the SWC and the people we support bring a wealth of expertise to help our thinking and development of the scientific focus.
Wellcome is the largest medical charity in the United Kingdom and presently, after the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the second largest such charity in the world. It funds a wide variety of biomedical science, including research in developing countries, with its mission being to achieve extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. In pursuit of this the Trust supports the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities.
Wellcome funds a significant portfolio of neuroscience and mental health research - ranging from studies of molecular and cellular components to work on cognition and higher systems. It also has strong interests in applied clinical research on neurological and mental health disorders and support activities that explore historical, ethical, social and artistic perspectives on the mind and mental health. Current major investments include Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at UCL, the Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Research at Newcastle University, the Oxford Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour and the Behavioural and Clinical Neurosciences Institute at the University of Cambridge.
Wellcome has several grant schemes including Investigator Awards and numerous prestigious Fellowship schemes ranging from the most senior Principal Research Fellowships for world-class scientists through to the new Henry Wellcome Fellowship scheme for recent PhD graduates. These Awards and Fellowships are awarded competitively and judged by peer review through the Neuroscience Expert Review Groups.
The UCL student community comprises 29,000 students from 150 countries. UCL currently offers 275 undergraduate programmes and more than 220 taught postgraduate programmes as well as the opportunity to carry out postgraduate research in all of its subjects.
In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, which evaluates research performance in all UK universities, UCL was ranked the top higher education institution for research strength.
UCL is consistently rated among the top five universities in the UK (alongside Cambridge, Imperial College and Oxford) and in the top 25 universities in the world. The 2018 QS global rankings placed UCL seventh among the world’s top ten universities.
UCL is a powerhouse in neuroscience, whether measured by published output, citations, grant income, or prizes and honours. UCL Neuroscience currently includes 26 Fellows of the Royal Society and 60 Fellows of the Academy of Medical Sciences. It has over 480 neuroscience PIs from some 30 academic departments and is ranked first in Europe (and second worldwide) for ISI citations in Neuroscience and Behaviour. UCL has an existing cadre of internationally competitive research groups in the fields of neural circuits and behaviour, and numerous strengths in related aspects of neuroscience, plus allied fields such as physics, chemistry and nanotechnology. UCL is the only institution in the UK – and one of the few in the world – with sufficient concentration and infrastructure in neuroscience and related disciplines to support the ambitious goals of the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre.
The environment at UCL will be further enhanced by the development of the Francis Crick Institute and its integration with UCL and other academic institutions including Imperial College and King’s College.
UCL provides an environment of excellence for training future generations of interdisciplinary researchers in neuroscience. Graduate training programmes include; the 4-year Wellcome Neuroscience programme; two further related 4-year Wellcome programmes; the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit’s 4-year programme; the BBSRC London Interdisciplinary Biosciences PhD Consortium (a 4-year programme led by UCL) and the CoMPLEX PhD programme.
These surrounding strengths show UCL’s capacity for bringing neuroscientists together with other biomedical scientists, plus mathematicians, physical scientists, computer scientists and engineers, to tackle the most challenging multidisciplinary problems. At the same time, UCL’s unique clinical links via its major postgraduate institutes and partner hospitals facilitate eventual translation to new treatments for neural disorders.
Further details of UCL Neuroscience can be found at www.ucl.ac.uk/neuroscience
The UCL School of Life and Medical Sciences (LMS) brings together four UCL Faculties to create one of the largest and most prestigious aggregations of academics in biomedical, life and population health sciences worldwide. The School has a global reputation for teaching, informed by cutting-edge research. A full profile of the School can be found here.
The School coordinates nine Research Domains, which are networks that bring together researchers regardless of their host Faculty. Colleagues engage with as many of the Domains as are relevant to their area of research activity, encouraging interdisciplinarity across the School and beyond.
The UCL Faculty of Life Sciences combines the strengths of UCL’s basic biological and preclinical sciences. Some of the constituent departments have long and distinguished histories that can be traced back to the early nineteenth century and the foundation of UCL. There are nine Nobel Prize winners associated with Life Sciences at UCL. It presents an unrivalled environment for students and researchers in life science disciplines, ranging from neuroscience to the biology of molecules, cells and organisms. The Faculty provides outstanding opportunities for research-led and research-based study. The Faculty is home for over 500 graduate students studying on some of the UK’s most prestigious PhD programmes.
The UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/brain-sciences/) undertakes world-leading research and teaching in neurology and neural pathways, neuroscience, language, cognition, psychology and psychiatry. It takes an integrative approach to the study of mind and brain by focusing on the determinants of human perception, cognition, emotion and behaviour. The Faculty and its component parts create an outstanding and vibrant environment for study and research.
In order to make use of basic science discoveries, UCL works closely with major Hospital Trust partners to develop further its outstanding academic health science environment. UCL Partners is an academic health science partnership that brings together UCL with four of its NHS partner Trust organisations (Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust (GOSH); Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust; University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust) in order to create Europe's leading health research powerhouse; see http://www.uclpartners.com/ The intention is to deliver real improvements in health for patients in London, and around the world. UCL Partners will support over 3,500 scientists, senior researchers and consultants, with a combined annual turnover of around £2 billion. By pooling resources and expertise, UCL Partners, which together treat over 1.5 million patients every year, is able to produce world-class research in key areas, each of which poses a major health challenge. These include the nervous system, children’s health, heart disease, transplantation, immunology, ophthalmology, deafness and hearing impairment, dental and oral disease, cancer and women's health.
The Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour is critical to the ambition of UCL to enhance its international leadership in neuroscience. It will deliver the conceptual and technological focus necessary for providing a casual account of how specific patterns of activity in neural circuits process information to direct behaviour to transform understanding of brain function.