Open Position: PhD Studentship in Computational Frameworks for high-dimensional neural data

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship on Computational frameworks for high-dimensional neural data with Dr. Shabnam Kadir in the Biocomputation Research Group in the Centre for Computer Science and Informatics Research, University of Hertfordshire, U.K.

New developments in experimental technology have led to petabytes of raw data being produced by experimental neuroscientists, which are increasingly publicly available, e.g. Allen Institute data. In particular, we are in the realm where population recordings of tens of thousands of neurons are feasible thanks to, e.g. a new generation of large dense probes for electrophysiological recordings, imaging using 2-photon microscopy coupled with calcium fluorescent sensors. Large scale neuronal recordings require novel approaches for both processing and quantitative analysis.

As well as using techniques from high-dimensional statistics, machine learning, information theory, we aim to explore new approaches from mathematical fields outside statistics, such as algebraic topology. The study of networks is a particularly important topic in neuroscience: neurons communicate with each other electrically via synapses, forming intricate networks. These networks can be studied using techniques from computational topology (e.g. persistent homology, clique topology). These could be used to extract information about subnetworks and assemblies, both from large scale recordings, and via connectomics derived from simulations (Blue Brain Project).

We aim in this project to go beyond spike sorting and develop new tools and computational frameworks which would help interpret high dimensional data and interrogate how information is being processed by the brain, e.g. How are sensory stimuli (location in environment, visual and auditory stimuli) encoded? How can we characterise the neural activity associated with memory, attention, decision making and motor control?

We shall be collaborating with labs at Imperial College London, Pennsylvania State University, and University College London.

More information can be found here:

We are looking for candidates with the following profile:

  • Strong first degree in a quantitative field such as mathematics, physics, computer science, engineering, computational neuroscience.
  • Strong programming skills (e.g. Python, MATLAB, C++).
  • Interest in neuroscience and biology would be helpful.

A studentship from the PhD Programme in Computer Science provides approximately £14,550 per annum bursary plus the payment of student fees. Applicants from outside the UK or EU are eligible.

Research in Computer Science at the University of Hertfordshire has been recognised as excellent in the latest Research Excellence Framework Assessment, with 50% of the research submitted rated as internationally excellent or world leading. The Centre for Computer Science and Informatics Research provides a very stimulating environment, offering a large number of specialised and interdisciplinary seminars as well as general training and researcher development opportunities. The University is situated in Hatfield, in the green belt just north of London.

Please contact Dr Shabnam Kadir (shabnam.kadir AT for informal enquiries. Application forms are available under and should be returned to Mrs Lorraine Nicholls and Mrs Emma Thorogood, Research Student Administrators, University of Hertfordshire, College Lane, Hatfield, Herts, AL10 9AB, Tel: 01707 286083, The short-listing process will begin on 8 January 2018. The earliest start date will be mid-April 2018.

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