Dr Anton Nikolaev


Lecturer in Neuroscience
Department of Biomedical Science
University of Sheffield
Western Bank
Sheffield S10 2TN
United Kingdom

Room: D232 Alfred Denny building
Telephone: +44 (0) 114 222 5113
Email: a.nikolaev@sheffield.ac.uk



Brief career history

  • 2013 - present: Lecturer, Department of Biomedical Science, The University of Sheffield
  • 2008 - 2013: Postdoctoral Fellow, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge
  • 2006 - 2008: Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Sheffield
  • 2005 - 2006: Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Umea
  • 2001 - 2005: PhD, Institute of Cytology, Russian Academy of Science, St.Petersburg
  • 1994 - 2000: BSc, MSc,  University of St.Petersburg.

Research interests

Our research is focused on investigating the neuronal circuits responsible for information processing in the visual system. The vertebrate visual system is able to recognize a remarkable number of objects of different appearances but the mechanisms and neural circuits underlying this ability are not known. To tackle this problem we use in vivo imaging of neuronal activity in zebrafish and follow the processing of visual information in different brain areas.

Professional activities

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)

Full publications


Neuronal circuits involved in processing of visial information in zebrafish

1. To understand the organisation of neuronal circuits performing processing of visual information in zebrafish. Using a combination of behavioural and imaging techniques we study how the zebrafish visual system processes visual information. Our main goal is to understand how information about object identity is encoded in the activity of visual neurons. The range of questions we ask includes: what features are extracted by the early visual system in order to make object recognition efficient? How do these features converge to form receptive fields of object recognising neurons? What is the role of adaptation in this process?

To answer these questions we image neuronal activity in zebrafish larvae. We are using zebrafish lines expressing calcium activity indicators in all or subset of visual neurons. These indicators change their brightness when neuron is active. The advantage of this method is that it is non-invasive and allows for the simultaneous study of a large population of neurons - something that is currently unfeasible using other techniques.

2. To understand how memory is encoded in changes in synaptic strength. We are develop GFP based reporters of long-term potentiation and long-term depression. These reporters will be used in vivo to understand how simple forms of associative and non-associative memory are implemented in changes in synaptic strength. To answer these questions we are developing behavioural paradigms that will allow us to combine evaluation of memory formation with in vivo imaging of synaptic strength.

Figure 1


Teaching experience:

2015: Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching from the University of Sheffield (Fellow of The Higher Education Academy, FHEA)

Undergraduate and postgraduate taught modules

Level 2:

  • BMS236 Building Nervous Systems (Coordinator)

Level 3:

  • BMS355 Sensory Neuroscience
  • BMS349 Extended Library Project
  • BMS369 Laboratory Research Project

Masters (MSc):

  • BMS6355 Sensory Neuroscience

PhD Studentship

Interaction of visual and olfactory systems in the zebrafish brain

Supervisors: Dr Anton Nikolaev and Dr Suresh Jesuthasan

Funding status: A fully funded PhD studentship is available for a highly motivated student to work on interactions between visual and olfactory systems in zebrafish. This is a collaborative project between Dr. Anton Nikolaev’s lab in the University of Sheffield and Dr. Suresh Jesuthasan’s lab in the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Singapore.

Behavioural decisions are often based on the simultaneous input from different sensory modalities.  For example, recognition of objects, estimation of their speed and position, depends on information coming from visual, olfactory and auditory systems. It is yet unclear how different sensory modalities interact and influence each other to achieve more reliable outcome.

The main aim of the proposed PhD project is to address how processing of visual information is affected by the olfactory input using zebrafish larvae as a model organism. Using a combination of behavioural techniques, 2-photon imaging of neuronal activity and advanced data analysis, you will study how the tuning properties of visual neurons in zebrafish are affected by the olfactory neurons responsible for detection of various behaviourally relevant odours. 

The specific objectives of the project are:

  1. To define whether behaviourally relevant odours affect activity of the retinal neurons
  2. To define how behaviourally relevant odours shape visual tuning properties of the tectal neurons
  3. To define whether habenula is involved in regulation of visual tuning properties by the olfactory system

Eligibility and Entry Requirements

The project is for students with biological, engineering or physical sciences background with 1st or 2:1 Bachelor’s degree from UK University or an equivalent.  The position is for UK/EU citizens only.

You must also be willing to travel: in the first half of the study you will work under supervision of Dr. Nikolaev in Sheffield and then move to Singapore to work under supervision of Dr. Jesuthasan. All travel expenses will be covered.

Contact information

For informal enquiries about the project or application process, please feel free to contact Dr Anton Nikolaev

or Suresh Jesuthasan ( sureshjj@imcb.a-star.edu.sg )

For further information about this project, and how to apply, see our PhD Opportunities page:

PhD Opportunities

Selected publications

Journal articles