Scientific Internship: Criticality in the bacterial brain

Updated: about 5 hours ago

Many biological systems, arguably even the human brain, are tuned at criticality, the tipping point between order and disorder. Recently, by measuring random (thermal) fluctuations in a protein signaling circuit of the bacterium E Coli (the bacterial “brain”) and with the help of numerical simulations, we discovered that the bacterial brain is a dynamical system tuned very close to criticality. This opens a wealth of new questions: What mechanisms do bacteria employ to tune their signaling circuit so close to criticality? And how does this critical tunning affect their ability to navigate through complex environments? Combining Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) microscopy and data analysis, you will investigate these fundamental questions. The project could also include a component of numerical (stochastic) simulations of the biochemical signaling circuit, depending on the internship duration and interests of the student.

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.

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.

Commercial activities in response to this ad are not appreciated.

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