Fellowship Opportunities

Application Process

We welcome and encourage applications for Fellowships from both Imperial Researchers and from Researchers at other institutes.

If you see an opportunity to apply for a Fellowship based in the Department of Life Sciences, you should first make contact and discuss your application with a potential sponsor who is currently at Imperial. A list of Research Themes, Research Groups and contacts is available from this link (Research Themes).

We ask that you submit your CV and a short summary of your proposed project to your sponsor, who will forward your application, with a letter of support, to the Departmental Fellowships and Honours Committee for review and consideration with regards to the current departmental activities and priorities. A decision will then be made whether your application will be supported by the Department. Feedback will be available in all cases.

If you have any queries, please email: dols-fhc@imperial.ac.uk

Examples of current Fellowships that are available include:

Supported Fellowships
 Funder Call Opens/Outline Full Application Date Shortlisting Link for Info
Wellcome Trust/ The Royal Society Sir Henry Dale Fellowship  07/08/2017  19/10/2017  Feb 2018 Sir Henry Dale
Wellcome Trust Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship  16/10/2017  15/12/2017  Apr 2018 Henry Wellcome
BBSRC David Phillips Fellowship  Early 2018  May 2018  Oct 2018 David Phillips
MRC Career Development Awards May 2017  14/09/2017  Feb 2018 Career Development Award 
EC Marie Curie Individual Fellowships  May 2017  14/09/2017  Feb 2018 Marie Sklodowska-Curie 
CRUK Career Development Fellowship  21/08/2017  27/11/2017  Mar 2018 Career Development Fellowship 
The Royal Society Newton International Fellowship  Jan 2018  March 2018   Newton International Fellowship 
The Royal Society University Research Fellowship 17/07/2017  04/09/2017  Apr 2018 University Research Fellowship  
NERC Independent Research Fellowship 06/06/2017 03/10/2017 TBC Independent Research Fellowship
Information for Sponsors

If you are planning on sponsoring an applicant, please submit a short reference and an outline of the support you will be providing to the applicant to the Fellowships and Honours Committee, along with the applicant's CV and short summary. The Fellowships and Honours Committee will then assess the fit of the applicant to the Department's activities.


We have a strong history of being able to offer our Research Fellows tenure within the Department of Life Sciences as Lecturers/Readers. Fellows that have been successful include: Katerina Artavanis-Tsakonas, James Murray, Cristina Banks-Leite, Abigail Clements, Giorgio Gilestro and Nadia Guerra.

PhD Opportunities

Reconstructing the Origin and Evolution of Oxygenic Photosynthesis

Project Description

Applications are invited for a research studentship, under the supervision of Professor A. William Rutherford, to investigate the molecular evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis leading to the award of a PhD degree. The post is supported by a bursary and fees (at the UK/EU student rate only) and funded by the Leverhulme Trust. The studentship is for 36 months from October 2017.

Photosynthesis changed the planet by fuelling the biosphere and by producing the oxygen that energized the atmosphere. How it evolved is a great unresolved mystery.

Photosynthesis is possible because of photochemical reaction centres. These are the enzymes that convert light energy into the chemical energy used by life. There are several different kinds of reaction centres but one stands out: Photosystem II, or the water-oxidising enzyme. Photosystem II uses light to split water into electrons, protons and molecular oxygen. No other protein in nature can oxidize water. A unique metal ion cluster (Mn4CaO5) forms the active site of the enzyme. This is often considered the benchmark for current efforts to make cheap and efficient catalysts for water oxidation to provide the electrons needed for sustainable fuel production.

How did photosynthesis originate? How did photochemical reaction centres evolve? How did water oxidation appear for the first time? These are some of the unanswered questions that are key for understanding the geological and biological history of Earth.

The PhD student will investigate ancestral forms of Photosystem II using a combination of computational methods and protein engineering. The engineered missing-links will be studied by biophysical and biochemical methods. This exciting project will allow evolutionary questions to be addressed experimentally and will provide unprecedented chemical insights on how oxygen-producing photosynthesis first emerged and on how it works. This work could also provide insights for future catalyst design.

The PhD student will receive training in computational methods for evolutionary analysis, microbiological techniques required for the cultivation of cyanobacteria, protein purification, and genetic engineering. In addition, the PhD student will learn a range of biophysical methods including spectroscopies such as absorption, fluorescence and electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy.

Requirements and eligibility

The studentship provides 3 years of funding for UK/EU students, starting October 2017. Non-UK/EU candidates are not eligible. Applicants should have a BSc honours degree (at least 2.1 or equivalent) in Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry or a related discipline and a Masters degree (at Merit level or better) by October 2017. Exceptional candidates without a Masters degree will be considered. Ideally, the student will have a keen interest in photosynthetic electron transfer, protein structure/function and evolution. Applicants with a desire to do interdisciplinary research may be given preference. Intellectual ability, enthusiasm and self-motivation are essential.

Funding provides full support for tuition fees for the three-year duration of the studentship, and an annual tax-free stipend of £16,553 per year.

How to apply:

Please direct informal enquiries and requests for further information to Professor A. William Rutherford (a.rutherford@imperial.ac.uk). Please email a single PDF file including: a brief cover letter describing your relevant interests and research experience, your c.v. and names and contact information of three referees to both a.rutherford@imperial.ac.uk and t.cardona@imperial.ac.uk. There is no closing date and applications will be considered as they are received, so early applications are encouraged.