Graduate Student: Single-Molecule Biophysics

Dr. Sabrina Leslie at UBC Michael Smith Laboratories is recruiting a Ph.D. student with interest in biophysics, nanoscience and biology. Our group develops and utilizes single-molecule fluorescence microscopy techniques to study interactions of biomolecules in cell-like environments. We’ve developed the Convex Lens-induced Confinement (CLiC) imaging platform, which makes it possible to watch individual, naturally fluctuating biomolecules as they search for and bind to each other, allowing us to make measurements that are not possible with other methods. This technique is applied both to basic biophysical research and development of drugs and therapeutics. 

Project: Effects of topology on DNA structure and interactions

DNA supercoiling drives structural transitions within a DNA molecule. This project will study the dynamics of such transitions, how multiple transitions within the same molecule can compete with one another, and how such transitions affect protein-DNA interactions. The goal of the research project will be to better understand the role of these structural transitions in gene regulation and bridge the gap between in vitro and live cell studies.

Training: Graduate students in the Leslie Lab receive training in single-molecule microscopy, specializing in the CLiC imaging technique pioneered in our lab; bulk characterization techniques such as Dynamic Light Scattering, and fluorimetry; standard molecular biology techniques including cell transformation, and gel electrophoresis; and computational modelling, image processing and analysis. The training environment will include interactions with a start-up company, ScopeSys Inc., which is commercializing CLiC technology; as well as collaborators in pharmaceutical science, biochemistry and medicine.

We are looking for a well-organized, enthusiastic team player who enjoys lab work and troubleshooting scientific instrumentation. A successful candidate would have experience with or interest in DNA structure and function, fluorescence microscopy, statistical mechanics, mathematical modelling, and computer programming. Background in biophysics, molecular genetics, quantitative biology, or a related field is an asset. Proficiency with a musical instrument and/or dungeons and dragons are also assets. The successful candidates must have a passion for innovation and pushing scientific and engineering capabilities to the forefront of what is possible today. 

To apply, please send a cover letter and CV to

Dr. Sabrina Leslie would consider supervising a MSc or PhD in any of the following programs as allowed by the program guidelines and admission committees.

  • MSc/PhD in Physics and Astronomy
  • MSc/PhD in Genome Science and Applied Technology
  • MSc/PhD in Bioinformatics
  • MSc/PhD in Biomedical Engineering
Reference Number

Please mention reference number GPS-57304 in all your correspondence about this Doctoral student position.

This position will be supervised by

Follow these steps to apply to UBC Graduate School!