Scientific Internship: Can bacteria learn by association?

Updated: 12 days ago

Associative learning, the process by which an organism develops through experience a relationship between two environmental events, is a hallmark of animal behavior. It is well-established that diverse animals, from invertebrates to humans, employ associative learning to acquire a new understanding of their environment. But can simpler organisms, such as bacteria, also learn by association? For example, do the environments in which bacteria have been grown affect their preference for such environments later in life? If yes, how are such memories developed and stored, and can they be passed on from mother cells to their offspring? You will investigate these exciting questions experimentally by employing a Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) microscopy technique developed in our lab that allows direct measurements of the bacterium’s sensory preferences for environments. Skills you will gain in this project include fabricating microfluidic devices, data acquisition using fluorescence microscopy, and data analysis. 

About the group

The Systems Biology group (Group Leader: Tom Shimizu) focuses on developing a physical understanding of biological behavior. We develop in vivo experiments to measure dynamics at multiple spatial and organizational scales, as well as theoretical modeling and data analysis frameworks to connect phenomena across those scales. Primary model systems are the bacterium E. coli, the nematode C. elegans, and symbiotic microbial communities.


We are seeking highly motivated students with strong quantitative skills. Experience with microscopy is a plus, but not a prerequisite. Formal requirements: You have a Bachelors degree in physics, chemistry, biology, or engineering, and are enrolled in a Masters program in one of these areas. The internship must be a mandatory part of your curriculum. You have a nationality of an EU-member state and/or you are a student at a Netherlands University. You must be available for at least 9 months.

Terms of employment

At the start of the traineeship your trainee plan will be set out, in consultation with your AMOLF supervisor.

Contact info

Prof.dr. Tom Shimizu
Group leader Systems Biology
Phone: +31 (0)20 754 7100

You can respond to this vacancy online via the button below.
Please annex your:

  • Resume;
  • List of followed courses plus grades;
  • A brief motivation letter.

Applications without this motivation will not be taken into account. However, with this motivation your application will receive our full attention.

Online screening may be part of the selection.

AMOLF is highly committed to an inclusive and diverse work environment. Hence, we greatly encourage candidates from any personal background and perspective to apply.

Commercial activities in response to this ad are not appreciated.

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