Jobs at Synbiosis

Synbiosis is a world leader in automated colony counting & inhibition zone sizing systems. Based in Cambridge, we offer a friendly, exciting work environment.

ESR10 – Imaging in 2020 – Integration, high throughput, automation

Supervisor: Allen Donald/

Institute: Research and Development Dept., Synoptics Limited.

Address: Beacon House, Nuffield Road, Cambridge CB4 1TF, UK

Academic Supervisor: Pietro Cicuta/

Institute: Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge PHYMOT


The optical microscope has evolved in the 20th century to become a workhorse of cell and microbiology research, as an instrument for direct human visualization. Modern integration with digital video acquisition, and current developments of super-resolution and optical manipulation, are still often integrated into an instrument design that is sub-optimal. The cost of many components (e.g. optical parts) is very high and again comes from layout constraints. While some laboratories have replaced traditional chassis, there have been few attempts at completely redesigning the imaging system to make use of the vast improvements in low cost sensor and optical components driven by mass markets. Furthermore, very little has been done in real-time analysis aiming to integrate feedback control into the experiments. These aspects could deliver a revolution in experimental practice of imaging living systems, particularly single cell experiments or conditions that require triggers based on cell/cell contact or other rare events, or in applications that require autonomous decisions (remote untethered sensing).

The Early Stage Researcher (ESR) should aim to: design electronics for image analysis and feedback, Integrate optical imaging components, including autofocus, optimize image/video processing using Synoptics architectures and produce a complete compact imaging device which includes sample environmental (flow and temperature) control.

The ESR will be required to apply, and be admitted, as a PhD student in Physics at the University of Cambridge under the supervision of Professor Pietro Cicuta. Please apply there by 14th January, following the process at: and inform Professor Pietro Cicuta.

Salary: The PhD salary is based on the regulations of appointment and remuneration for Marie Skłodowska Curie Fellows in ITN networks. The successful candidate will also benefit from additional funding for several visiting trips (typically 1 month each) in the partner teams.

Requested profile: We welcome highly-motivated applicants holding a MSc with a background in physics/ computing/engineering with experience of electronics and an interest/ experience in imaging and biology.

Further obligations: The ESR is expected to travel to network partners for secondments and a mini-project for durations up to 2-3 months. In addition, the ESR participates in outreach activities (social media, participation in public events), as well as dissemination to popular press.

Funding conditions: Candidates must not have resided or carried out their activities – work, studies, etc.- in the UK for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before starting the PhD.

Deadline for applications: February 10, 2021 (but please bear in mind you must be registered for as a PhD student with the University of Cambridge by the 14th of January 2021).

Hiring procedure: Applications (CV, transcript of studies, statement of motivation and at least one letter of recommendation) should be sent by email to Allen Donald ( The recruitment is taking place following the European Code of Conduct for Recruitment of Researchers, which all candidates are encouraged to study.

Selection process: PHYMOT is open to researchers regardless of gender, religion, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, political views, language, age and nationality. Applications from highly qualified applicants from outside the EU will thus be equally considered to other applicants. The integration of refugees is an EU priority and we will ensure equal opportunities to the researchers whose scientific careers have been interrupted. To ensure a gender balance in the project and work towards the Commission’s own policies on narrowing the gap between the genders in research, should two applicants be found to be equally qualified the preference will be given to the one that will balance the gender distribution in the entire Network. All submitted applications will be checked against the defined admissibility and eligibility criteria (e.g. submitted electronically, readable, complete, in English, including grades and references), and applicants will be informed by email within two work weeks on the outcome. Evaluation criteria include: Scientific background (with particular focus on theoretical physics), previous publications, capacity for creativity and independent thinking and leadership, mentoring and presentation abilities.

Protection of personal data: The personal data of the applicants will be handled in compliance with applicable EU and national law on data protection (GDPR). This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and innovation Programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 955910