Come and do a PhD in my group, in collaboration with our amazing partners!
- Precision medicine! The Oral-Gut Microbiome Axis in Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis. (Primary supervisor: Gwo-tzer Ho) An exciting group of supervisors and a highly supportive environment. Come and use cutting edge metagenomic techniques to look at the oral-gut axis in Crohn’s and Ulcerative colitis
- Save the planet! Characterisation and optimisation of the rumen microbiome. (Primary superviso: me!) Ruminants produce a lot of greenhouse gas – come and help us reduce this using cutting edge metagenomics and microbiology.
Please apply using University of Edinburgh links in the above adverts.
Below are all the reasons why you MUST COME AND STUDY WITH US! These are the the kind of thing we can’t fit in the adverts. Please apply, even if you think you don’t yet have the skills – I am sure we can work on that for the right person.
(notes below refer to my lab at The Roslin Institute! I am sure the labs of the other supervisers are cool too!)
1. Institutional environment
You will join my lab at The Roslin Institute, a world-famous research institute in Edinburgh. We carry out world class reseach in biotechnology, and are now fully embedded within the University of Edinburgh, consistently ranked in the top 20 universities worldwide.
The institute is housed in a brand new building put up in 2011, and is across the road from another new building, the Royal (Dick) Vet School. We have two restaurants on site, and a gym. The site is served buses several times a day, and it really is a pleasant place to work. We’re just a little outside the city centre and the views of the local countryside are stunning.
Roslin has a very relaxed atmosphere. There are over 100 PhD students, and we also have a lively set of post-docs. This means it is easy to make friends and there is always something social going on – for example, Friday is “cake day”, and if you join the cake club you can go and enjoy someone’s cake in the restaurant with all of the other members. You can read the post-doc handbook here!
Honestly, it’s a fantastic place to work and I think you’d love it.
2. Group environment
My aim is to run a relaxed, supportive, open and inclusive group, with a focus on helping individuals realise their objectives, whatever they may be. We are LGBTQ+ friendly and we are family-friendly!
We have a weekly lab meeting where we talk about science and people are encouraged to talk about any problems/issues they have, or whatever they have been thinking about (this is not mandatory though, for those of you who are introverts). My door is always open for one-to-one meetings.
My attitude is that I don’t expect you to succeed, but I do expect you to try. Failure is perfectly fine – we can deal with that and I, or other members of the group, can help. All I expect of you is to put the effort in and try. As long as I see sufficient effort on the project you are working on, as long as there is progress, and as long as you make up the time somehow, I am flexible about how, where and when you work.
I encourage group members NOT to work too hard and to take all of their annual leave. If you need flexible working I am 100% OK with that; need Fridays off? No problem. Need to leave every day at 3 to collect your kids? No problem. Want to work from home? No problem. Having two young children myself, I am particularly sensitive to the needs of young families, and I am also committed to helping young parents get back in to work. I also have no age bias – please, if you are interested in one of our positions, apply!
Of course, it’s good for you to come in and see the other members of the group and to see me, but I am relaxed about this, and will leave it up to you to decide.
Our work largely involves generation and analysis of huge amounts of sequence data, either for functional genomics or metagenomics/microbiome.
We work both in the lab, doing molecular stuff such as DNA/RNA extractions, 16S/PCR, MinION sequencing etc as well as all downstream analysis. In terms of computational workflows, I encourage everyone to use Snakemake, which has conda and Docker support built in for dealing with software installation issues. We have access to a 4000+ core University high performance computing system, and we have begun working with cloud technologies such as Google Cloud Platform and Kubernetes. Most of the group code in Python, though there is a significant amount of R and Perl hanging around. I am an R guru, if you’d like to learn it 😉
If you don’t think you have the skills, but would like to learn them (by doing!) then apply anyway – if you’re the right person, we can fill in the technical skills later. Honestly, the technical skills might be the least important. As long as you are comfortable in Linux, everything else can be learned quickly.
Our focus is on discovery biology fuelled by reproducible science. What can we discover that is novel about biological systems using computational biology? We also write and maintain novel software workflows to ensure that (i) our science is reproducible and (ii) others can follow our work and apply it to their own problems.
The group is always full of ideas of what we can do, and we try to keep ourselves at the cutting edge of technology.
Edinburgh is one of the World’s most beautiful cities, with historical buildings, huge green open spaces, and a long golden beach (yes really!). There are too many attractions to list them here, but needless to say, it is an incredible place to live and you will never be short of things to do here. Living expenses are affordable compared to many other cities in the UK and Europe, and decent accomodation at all levels can be found throughout the city; alternatively, many people at Roslin choose to settle just outside the city, in one of the many local villages and towns. There are plenty of options!
Both PhD studentships are fully funded for four years!
Generally speaking I support travel and attendance at conferences and workshops (within reason, and within budget). Attendance at the UK’s Genome Science conference, which I help organise, is always encouraged and many of the team members attend PAG in San Diego every January. We have an active project with collaborators in Nairobi too, and so travel there is also a possibility. However, if you don’t wish to travel, or can’t, for whatever reason, that’s also fine and we can always discuss the best way to handle meetings that are necessary for the project you’re working on.
That’s it! We have a great group, and we are doing fun and important things. Please come!