Postdoctoral Training Fellow - A. Schaefer Sensory Circuits and Neurotechnology Lab

Postdoctoral Training Fellows are expected to lead their own projects and collaborate within the lab and externally. The ability to work in a team is essential.

Key information

Job reference
From £41,935 per annum, subject to skills and experience
Application close date
07 April 2023, 23:59 BST
Hours per week
36 (full time)
Posted 17 March 2023
Background texture taken from the lab imagery.

Postdoctoral Training Fellow -

X-ray Connectomics - Staining and Embedding

A. Schaefer Sensory Circuits and Neurotechnology Lab

Contact term: This is a full-time, fixed term (4 years) position on Crick terms and conditions of employment.

The Research Group

This position is available in Prof Andreas Schaefer’s laboratory. The Sensory Circuits and Neurotechnology Lab studies how information is represented and processed in the brain, focussing on sensory circuits in mice. To this end, the lab uses and develops anatomical, physiological, and behavioural techniques to dissect the structure and function of neural circuits. The PTF will report to the Group Leader and the Principal Laboratory Research Scientist, Carles Bosch, who leads the Functional Connectomics project in the lab.

Details of research projects currently carried out and recent publications can be found on

The Project

The PTF will be part of an EPSRC-funded project jointly led by Andreas Schaefer’s and Alexandra Pacureanu’s lab at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, France. The postholder will also work in close collaboration with Adrian Wanner and his group at the Swiss light source at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland. The purpose of the project in general is to apply correlative connectomics approaches to sensory circuits and to further the development of X-ray Nanoholotomography together with in vivo imaging and volume electron microscopy.

X-ray connectomics has become a tangible option for delineating wiring diagrams of the brain. So far, efforts have largely made use of recent advances of staining and embedding approaches for volume electron microscopy. This specific PTF project will build on preliminary approaches taken by Schaefer, Pacureanu and Wanner labs to explore the potential for X-ray specific staining and embedding. We see this as the critical step to enable routine connectomics analysis of mm3 brain regions non-destructively. 

The specific aims of the project will be to:

  • Systematically assess different existing staining approaches (e.g. different heavy-metal staining protocols, different fixation and embedding, other standard histology protocols etc) for X-ray absorption, scattering,  and contrast with different coherent X-ray tomography approaches 
  • Characterise theoretically and through targeted X-ray experiments at different X-ray sources (lab-based and synchrotron-based) different materials for X-ray coherent imaging.
  • Analyse energy-dependent absorption / penetration lengths, scattering and contrast in brain tissue for coherent X-rays
  • Develop new staining approaches in collaboration with chemists at the Francis Crick Institute
  • Test different embedding materials for imaging contrast, radiation damage, EM compatibility
  • Finally, to acquire synaptic resolution X-ray tomograms employing newly developed embedding and staining approaches

The postholder will be responsible for

  • Leading independent projects together with the PLRS
  • Liaising with diverse collaborators, including chemists and X-ray physicists at the Francis Crick Institute, ESRF and PSI
  • Systematically identifying, developing, testing and evaluating staining and embedding protocols for brain tissue
  • Maintaining well-organised repositories for systematic analysis of protocols
  • Performing different X-ray tomography and electron microscopy tests
  • Quantitatively analysing X-ray and EM data
  • Intellectually contribute to the lab’s efforts to develop X-ray connectomics with collaborators at ESRF and PSI
  • Intellectually leading the understanding of embedding and staining approaches to enable X-ray connectomics  
  • Liaising with our synchrotron collaborators at ESRF and PSI, preparing beamtime proposals and reports
  • Contributing to the lab’s open, interdisciplinary, and collegial atmosphere by developing initiative around presenting and disseminating work internally such as in lab meetings and journal clubs

The PTF will report to the Group Leader and be co-supervised by an experienced principal laboratory research scientist, Dr Carles Bosch.

Postdoctoral Training Fellows will lead their own projects, contribute to other projects on a collaborative basis (both in the lab and with external collaborators) and may guide PhD students in their research. The ability to work in a team is essential.

Key experience and competencies

The post holder should embody and demonstrate our core Crick values:

Bold; Open; Collegial


  • PhD (or in the final stages of PhD submission) in physics, biology, chemistry, biotechnology, mathematics, engineering, medicine or neuroscience
  • Strong interest in connectomics approaches to studying brain function
  • Strong interest in method development
  • Deep knowledge and experience in at least one of the following: histology, chemistry in particular in the context of biological sample preparation, electron microscopy, X-ray physics
  • Ability to troubleshoot, acquire and integrate diverse information
  • Aptitude for interdisciplinary thinking and working
  • Track record of writing papers as evidenced by publications or submitted manuscripts in international refereed journals
  • Evidence of data presentation at scientific meetings


  • Experience with volume electron microscopy
  • Experience with staining protocols for brain tissue
  • Experience with image analysis 
  • Experience with handling animal tissue
  • Experience in histology, chemistry, or X-ray physics

About Us

At the Crick, we conduct research at the forefront of biomedical research. We combine rigour with an open and collaborative culture, and are outward-looking, reflecting our status as a partnership of six organisations aiming to pool knowledge, ideas and resources.

We have a wide research portfolio with no divisions or departments, bringing biomedical researchers together with clinicians, physical scientists and applied scientists from our pharmaceutical partners.

We aim to attract the most talented researchers and support them to tackle innovative research questions. Our science technology platforms provide our researchers with access to state-of-the-art technology and expertise.

We provide an excellent learning environment with dedicated education programmes in public engagement with science, education and personal development, and a postdoc training programme that prepares scientists for leadership roles in science.

  • If you are interested in applying for this role, please apply via Workday.
  • All offers of employment are subject to successful security screening and continuous eligibility to work in the United Kingdom.
  • If you require a visa to work in the UK we will help support your application should you be successful