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The Keays Lab is a neuroscience group based in the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge. Our goal is to identify the molecules, cells and circuits that underlie the magnetic sense in pigeons. To achieve this we employ an iDISCO based assay coupled with light sheet microscopy that assesses neuronal activation within the pigeon brain, following exposure to magnetic fields.

These experiments have confirmed that magnetic stimuli results in the activation of neurons in the vestibular nuclei, implicating the inner ear of pigeons in the magnetic sense. We have shown experimentally and by physical calculations that magnetic stimulation can induce electric fields in the pigeon semi-circular canals that are within the physiological range of known electroreceptive systems.

This in turn led to the discovery of a splice isoform of a voltage-gated calcium channel (CaV1.3) in the pigeon inner ear that has been shown to mediate electroreception in skates and sharks (Nimpf et al, Current Biology 2019).

These data have led us to propose that pigeons detect magnetic fields by electromagnetic induction within the semi-circular canals that is dependent on the presence of apically located voltage-gated cation channels in a population of electrosensory hair cells. Critically to this model is sampling of the magnetic field by head scanning behaviour. We are looking to appoint a part time (8 hours per week, 0.22 FTE) Research Assistant to assist with ongoing experiments that test this hypothesis.

We are looking for

We are looking for a part time research assistant to help with experiments and the analysis of data. This position will be based in Cambridge, however, the applicant should be prepared to spent time at our sister lab at LMU Germany. The position is funded by the European Research Council (ERC).

We are looking for a passionate neuroscientist with an interest in systemic neuroscience, sensory biology, and/or inner ear function. Existing experience with software packages such as DeepLabCut, BombCell, ImageJ, and tools for quantitative analysis would be advantageous. The successful applicant will join a diverse and vibrant group, where team work is highly valued.

To apply

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To apply for this post, please submit a CV, motivation letter detailing why you want to be part of this project and how this post will be a good stepping-stone for your career. We also need the contact details for two people who can provide a professional reference.

The closing date for applications is 22nd May 2024. Please quote reference PM41579 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

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