Open Positions

Microsoft Research 4-year PhD Scholarship

Exploring motif-based design patterns for biological computation

In computer software engineering, design patterns provide reusable solutions to frequently encountered problems that are independent of the programming language used for implementation. In this project, we will explore whether biology also exploits design patterns in the regulatory programs controlling cellular behaviours. Focusing on the role of small regulatory motifs that are known to be enriched in living systems, and which cluster in specific ways, we will employ formal methods to study the cellular functions that motifs support and their robustness to being used in different ways. A new regulatory system based on engineered RNA interactions will be developed to allow for the reliable creation of large regulatory circuits, which will then be used to explore the ability synthesise novel regulatory programs from motif-based design rules tackling a broad range of functionalities (e.g. decision making, oscillations, and pulse generation). Insight from this work will fuel exciting new approaches for the design of our own biological programs that go beyond the complexity of current approaches, while also providing a deeper understanding of the way biology harnesses the computational substrate of life itself.

Requirements and eligibility:

The successful candidate must fulfil EPSRC requirements (i.e. UK/EU citizen with the right to live in the UK for the duration of the PhD) and will have, or soon receive, a degree in a relevant subject area (e.g. natural sciences, biology, computer science, physics, chemistry, etc). They will also have a strong interest in engineering biology, willingness to learn about computational methods that will underpin the project, and ideally some experience of working in a laboratory environment or are able to demonstrate their passion for learning the necessary experimental skills. They will be highly motivated, collaborative, an excellent communicator, with a desire to work within a fast-paced and diverse multi-disciplinary team.

For further information about the project, to find out if you might be a good fit and how to apply, please contact:


Postdoctoral Researchers

Postdoctoral researchers can find support from numerous schemes.

Bristol Vice-Chancellor's Fellowships

This scheme offers an exciting opportunity for exceptional early-career researchers to advance their research careers, setup their own group at the University of Bristol. Fellowships are available across the strategic priorities of university. More details...


PhD Studentships

For students looking for PhD studentship, we recommend applying to one of the doctoral training centres based at Bristol or associated EU training networks. Any internally funded opportunities will be posted as openings above.


The EPSRC and BBSRC Synthetic Biology Centre for Doctoral Training (SynBioCDT) is a 4-year doctoral programme that offers training in the new field of Synthetic Biology, the "Engineering of Biology". This centre is a collaboration between the Universities of Oxford, Bristol and Warwick. More details...

Bristol Centre for Functional Nanomaterials

The Bristol Centre for Functional Nanomaterials (BCFN) is a leading centre for doctoral training offering 4-year PhD and 1 year MSc opportunities in Functional Nanomaterials. More details...

Internships and Placements


If you are an undergraduate interested in gaining some experience in engineering biology then several schemes can support summer placements in the lab. Please contact us before applying to ensure the project you have planned is suitable or to discuss other options (e.g. self-funding).

DAAD RISE Worldwide

RISE stands for Research Internships in Science and Engineering. RISE Worldwide offers summer research internships across the world to German undergraduate students with academic training in biology, chemistry, physics, earth sciences, engineering, or a closely related field. RISE Worldwide is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. More details...

Biochemical Society Summer Studentships

The Biochemical Society offers grants for stipends of £200 per week for 6–8 weeks, and up to £1,600 in total, to support an undergraduate student to carry out a summer lab placement. The student does not need to be a member of the Society, but when ranking proposals preference will be given to student members. More details...