PhD position in Biophotonics Systems for in vivo Neuroscience

DTU Fotonik
Friday 01 Sep 17

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Photonics is a key enabling technology for the life sciences. DTU Fotonik is seeking a PhD student to do research within biophotonics geared towards in vivo optogenetics applications in neuroscience research. If selected, the PhD student will carry out technical research at DTU Fotonik, Department of Photonics, Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and perform in vivo neurophotonics experiments in state-of-the-art laboratories at the Center for Neuroscience, University of Copenhagen. PhD training will be further enhanced with external research stay in collaborators in Europe, Australia or North America.

Description of PhD project
This PhD project will study in vivo cellular-level control of mouse brain signalling using new biophotonics tools to be developed based on spatial, spectral and temporal light modulation.

Optogenetics is a disruptive innovation that allows light-controlled experimentation and hypothesis testing in the life sciences, which can improve fundamental understanding and lead to new ways of maintaining health and developing better cures. Optogenetics works by turning selected biological processes into light-switchable mechanisms, which, therefore, opens up to various photonics solutions. Potentially useful in various areas of biological science, most interest is currently in neuroscience where the light-based switching of excitatory and inhibitory neurons exhibit much better versatility than traditional electrical stimulation. With most research focused on in vitro techniques, new methods are needed for in vivo experiments where neural stimulation occurs in an intact organism rather than brain slices on glass slides that may generate entirely different results and miss valuable insights. Thus, besides the challenge of creating a system having sufficient spatial, spectral and temporal resolution, this PhD project will also address the constraints and challenges that in vivo experiments present as well as solve practical issues such as the seamless integration of the newly developed system into a commercial two-photon microscopy setup to achieve simultaneous excitation and monitoring.

The PhD project will combine numerical and experimental methods to design and develop the new system to specifications (supervisors: Darwin Palima and Jesper Glückstad, DTU Fotonik). In addition, the PhD student will also train and work on in vivo mouse brain experiments (Martin Lauritzen’s group, University of Copenhagen).

Candidates should have a master's degree in engineering/Physics or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to the master's degree in engineering/Physics. A solid background in optics, photonics or applied physics is an asset while relevant experience is an advantage e.g., neurophotonics, optical systems design, spatiotemporal light modulation, optical modeling, two-photon microscopy. An ideal candidate will have strong laboratory skills incl. software tools for hardware control, data acquisition and analysis (MATLAB, LabVIEW or equivalent). Good communication skills in written and spoken English is a must.

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarships for the PhD degree are subject to academic approval, and the candidates will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes of DTU. For information about the general requirements for enrolment and the general planning of the scholarship studies, please see the DTU PhD Guide.   

The assessment will be made by Associate Prof. Darwin Palima and Prof. Jesper Glückstad.

We offer
We offer an interesting and challenging job in an international environment focusing on education, research, scientific advice and innovation, which contribute to enhancing the economy and improving social welfare. We strive for academic excellence, collegial respect and freedom tempered by responsibility. The Technical University of Denmark (DTU) is a leading technical university in northern Europe and benchmarks with the best universities in the world.

Salary and appointment terms
The salary and appointment terms are consistent with the current rules for PhD degree students. The period of employment is 3 years.

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Assoc. Prof. Darwin Palima,, and Prof. Jesper Glückstad,

You can read more about DTU Fotonik on  

Please submit your online application no later than 1 October 2017. Applications must be submitted as one pdf file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online," fill in the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one pdf file. The file must include: 

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and excel spreadsheet here)

Candidates may apply prior to ob­tai­ning their MSc degree, but cannot begin before having received it.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

DTU Fotonik has 220 employees with a wide range of competences in optics and is one of the largest centers in the world based solely on research in photonics. Research are performed within optical sensors, lasers, LEDs, photovoltaics, ultra-high speed optical transmission systems, biophotonics, nonlinear optics, ultrafast optical science, nanophotonics and quantum photonics.

DTU is a technical university providing internationally leading research, education, innovation and scientific advice. Our staff of 5,800 advance science and technology to create innovative solutions that meet the demands of society; and our 10,600 students are being educated to address the technological challenges of the future. DTU is an independent academic university collaborating globally with business, industry, government, and public agencies.