High-Speed, Line-scanning, Two-photon Hyperspectral Light-Sheet Microscopy and Sensing - Engineering -EPSRC DTP funded PhD Studentship Ref: 2945

About the award

This project is one of a number funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Doctoral Training Partnership to commence in September 2018. This project is in direct competition with others for funding; the projects which receive the best applicants will be awarded the funding.

The studentships will provide funding for a stipend which is currently £14,553 per annum for 2017-2018. It will provide research costs and UK/EU tuition fees at Research Council UK rates for 42 months (3.5 years) for full-time students, pro rata for part-time students.

Please note that of the total number of projects within the competition, up to 15 studentships will be filled.

Prof Frank Vollmer
Associate Professor Steffen Scholpp

Streatham Campus, Exeter

Project Description

Light-sheet microscopy was becoming popular as a new research tool for imaging applications with large living samples such as tissue sections, mouse brains, embryos, organs, spheroids or biopsies. Multi-colour fluorophores, which can be excited by different lasers or a tunable laser and then imaged sequentially using different filter sets and detectors, are commonly used to selectively bind to a specific region or functional group on the target cells in order to study their behaviours and interactions. However, multiple excitation sources and detection channels add considerably to system cost and complexity. It is desirable to efficiently excite and acquire multiple colours using a single laser and detector during in vivo measurement.
In this PhD studentship, we will develop a two-photon hyperspectral light-sheet microscopy that simultaneously excite multiple fluorophores of fluorescent microspheres by a pulse laser while acquiring their spectral information at video rate with a spectrograph equipped with a EMCCD. The student will involve both optical and mechanical system design, study the shaping of beam, build a control and data acquisition system, as well as develop an optimal algorithm to distinguish the spectra of fluorophores and separate their contributions to the measured signal. The student will work with biologists and bioengineers to extend the use of the light sheet microscope system for label-free sensing of biochemical substances. This will be achieved by recording the optical response of fluorescent microsensors.
1. R. M. Power and J. Huisken, A Guide to Light-sheet Fluorescence Microscopy for Multiscale Imaging, Nature methods 14, 360–373 (2017)
2. W. Jahr, B. Schmid, C. Schmied, F.O. Fahrbach, and J. Huisken, Hyperspectral Light-sheet Microscopy, Nature Communications 6, 7990 (2015)

The project will be supervised by Prof Vollmer (Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Exeter) and will take place at the newly established Living Systems Institute http://www.exeter.ac.uk/livingsystems/

Prof Vollmer’s research group is leading the development of optical sensors to visualize processes at the nanoscale. They have pioneered label-free detection methods capable of detecting single molecules. The Living Systems Institute is a world-class center for research excellence. The inter-disciplinary vision for the LSI requires the physical colocation of scientists with very broad skills, and the provision of high-specification technologies. The University of Exeter has invested £52 m in the innovative LSI building. This is the University's largest single investment in science, and part of an overall investment of £340m since 2008. The LSI building was completed in autumn 2016 and is now home to an interdisciplinary team of scientists and on track for full occupancy in 2018. Read more http://www.exeter.ac.uk/livingsystems/#QKfQiBFFgfbcIDZP.99

Entry Requirements
Suitable candidates have strong interest in experimental nano-optics and electromagnetic theory. Ideal candidates have background in optics and hands-on experience in micro- and nanofabrication. The project will require computational modeling and simulation using finite-difference time-domain and finite element methods.

The majority of the studentships are available for applicants who are ordinarily resident in the UK and are classed as UK/EU for tuition fee purposes.  If you have not resided in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship, you are not eligible for a maintenance allowance so you would need an alternative source of funding for living costs. To be eligible for fees-only funding you must be ordinarily resident in a member state of the EU.  For information on EPSRC residency criteria click here.

Applicants who are classed as International for tuition fee purposes are NOT eligible for funding. International students interested in studying at the University of Exeter should search our funding database for alternative options.


Application deadline:10th January 2018
Value:3.5 year studentship: UK/EU tuition fees and an annual maintenance allowance at current Research Council rate. Current rate of £14,553 per year.
Duration of award:per year
Contact: Doctoral Collegepgrenquiries@exeter.ac.uk

How to apply

You will be required to upload the following documents:
•       CV
•       Letter of application outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to
        undertake the project.
•       Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained.  This should be an interim
        transcript if you are still studying.
•       If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your current
        proficiency in English.  For further details of the University’s English language requirements please see

The closing date for applications is midnight (GMT) on Wednesday 10 January 2018.  Interviews will be held at the University of Exeter in late February 2018.

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email: pgrenquiries@exeter.ac.uk.
Project-specific queries should be directed to the supervisor.

During the application process, the University may need to make certain disclosures of your personal data to third parties to be able to administer your application, carry out interviews and select candidates.  These are not limited to, but may include disclosures to:

• the selection panel and/or management board or equivalent of the relevant programme, which is likely to include staff from one or more other HEIs;
• administrative staff at one or more other HEIs participating in the relevant programme.

Such disclosures will always be kept to the minimum amount of personal data required for the specific purpose. Your sensitive personal data (relating to disability and race/ethnicity) will not be disclosed without your explicit consent.