Applications for this PhD have now closed.
Location University of New South Wales, School of Physics
App. deadline 20/07/2017
  • Please enquire for further details
Eligibility Open to international applicants

Towards simultaneous electrical & optical studies of single biomolecules

We are currently actively seeking strong candidates to put forth for the UNSW Scientia Scholarships program for our project "Towards simultaneous electrical & optical studies of single biomolecules". The scholarship is open to domestic and international candidates and provides an annual stipend of $40k p.a. plus an annual research/travel/development budget of $10k p.a. (plus tuition for international students) for 4 years ($200k total package). This is a highly competitive internal scholarship at UNSW, so we are seeking candidates with outstanding past performance and interest in taking an ambitious interdisciplinary project requiring significant drive, creative thought and independent work.

Advances in optical microscopy have enabled single-molecule level studies of a range of biological systems. Nanoscale electronic devices are just now catching up, for example, nanopores are now commonly used in point-of-care DNA sequencing and carbon nanotube transistors have been used to measure the motions of proteins such as lysozyme to DNA polymerase during their catalytic cycle.

We propose to develop a platform combining the strengths of both approaches to gain deeper insight into the functional dynamics of biomolecular systems. We have established optical approaches to directly observe the localisation and composition of macromolecular motor complexes albeit with limited time resolution. Electronic approaches overcome this limitation and offer significantly enhanced time resolution. Crucially, the opportunity to correlate and corroborate signals offers improved certainty and more detailed knowledge of the underlying processes.

This project is specifically focussed at bridging the two disciplines of nanoelectronics and molecular biology. It will focus on advancing the state of the art in nanoscale devices and single molecule microscopy for a range of protein-based molecular motor systems ranging from actin-myosin to de novo artificial motor systems being developed at UNSW, as well as novel sensors based on DNA nanotechnology.

The project will be supervised by a team consisting of: Adam Micolich, nanotechnology and nanoelectronics (School of Physics, Science); Till Böcking, single molecule detection and protein engineering (Single Molecule Science, Medicine); Lawrence Lee, DNA origami, nanomachines, molecular self-assembly and structural biology (Single Molecule Science, Medicine) and Paul Curmi, molecular biophysics and protein science (School of Physics, Science).

The team brings a background in a wide range of techniques from nanoscale electronics to single molecule imaging, as well as protein science and DNA nanotechnology. We also have expertise in molecular machines (artificial and biological); nano-bioscience; high-resolution structural analysis (x-ray crystallography) and synthetic biology (design and construction of protein and DNA devices).

The project will involve a number of international collaborations, including with members of the EU Horizon 2020 project Bio4Comp, and partners in other projects the supervisory team is engaged in.

Interested students should see the UNSW Scientia Scholarships website, as well as the UNSW Graduate Research School website for more information on our higher degree programs

If you are interested in working with us, please send A/Prof. Adam Micolich an email indicating your interest with a copy of your CV and academic transcript and some discussion of your research interests (e.g., why do you want to work with us in particular? what can you bring to our research effort?). If you have any of the following skills and experience, please mention them in your email and give details:

* Undergraduate and/or graduate coursework in solid state physics, semiconductor devices, applied physics, quantum mechanics, biophysics, molecular biology.

* Previous project work related to biophysics, electronic devices, optical microscopy or related physics/chemistry projects.

*Research experience as an undergraduate or masters student.

* Experience working in a cleanroom and with the fabrication of electronic devices, microfluidics, etc.

* Experience with characterization and measurement of electronic devices, particularly at low temperatures or in a physics research environment.

* Experience with high-resolution fluorescence microscopy.

* Experience with theory and/or computational modeling and numerical simulation of electronic devices.

* Scientific programming using tools such as Matlab or Labview (n.b. use of Word and Excel doesn't count).

* Strong verbal and written English communication skills; teaching experience; leadership and teamwork experience

Applicants should have an undergraduate honours degree in physics, applied physics, chemistry, electrical engineering or a related area. A masters is required without honours, but is a plus otherwise. Candidates should be excellent team players willing to contribute to others' projects and have others contribute to theirs within our team, and be engaged with our collaborators outside UNSW. Candidates should have a strong work ethic but also a sensible attitude to work-life balance and interests outside science -- we like to work hard but have fun too :).

Please Note: Should this listing mention details of an available scholarship, it is your responsibility to confirm the specifics with the university / institute prior to applyiing. Terms and conditions are in some cases subject to change and are not always reflected immediately within listings.

See our full disclaimer

Further Information / Application Enquiries

A/Prof Adam Micolich