PhD Studentship: Neuroscience

University of Sussex

The computational neuroscience of visually guided behaviour in insects

A Ph.D. studentship (42 months) is available from September 2017 under the supervision of Dr Paul Graham, Evolution, Behaviour and Environment, School of Life Sciences

Insect are capable of sophisticated visually guided behaviours, even with their small brains. Pattern learning in bees, and visual navigation in ants are behaviours that roboticists would love to mimic and biologists would love to understand. As yet, there is little known about the neural circuitry that underpins these behaviours. In vertebrates, a general purpose visual system is at the service of many behaviours. However, insects show a more modular design with specific visual circuits at the service of very particular behaviours. In this project we will take a modelling approach to try and reverse engineer the different visual circuits required for specific behaviours. A range of computational approaches may be explored such as machine learning techniques, agent based simulations and computer vision but the key goal would be to discover algorithms that match the behavioural performance of insects.

The student will benefit from the environment provided by Dr Paul Graham and the Sussex Insect Navigation Group ( and from direct interactions with the team on the EPSRC-funded Brains-on-Board project (, including the PIs Prof Thomas Nowotny and Dr Andy Philippides, and three research fellows at Sussex. This is an excellent opportunity for a PhD project in a supportive environment at an exciting intersection between biology and robotics.

Please submit a formal application using our online application system at, including a CV, statement of interest and names of two academic referees.

On the application system use Programme of Study - PhD Neuroscience.

Please make sure you include the project title and supervisor’s name with your statement of interest on the application form.

Applicants should have some programming experience but may have a computer science or neuroscience background. We are looking for applicants with Masters experience or exceptional undergraduate performance. We encourage enquiries, please email

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South East England