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Dr Reza Shahidi

Postdoctoral Research Fellow (LSI)

 Living Systems Institute S01.07


Living Systems Institute, University of Exeter, Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4QD


I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the lab of Professor Gáspár Jékely . The focus of my research is the animal nervous system. I aim to examine how nervous systems develop in an organism, and how they evolved into the diverse networks found in animals today. Understanding the structure of these networks requires precise mapping of the synaptic connections between different neurons (connectomics), and the underlying neurotransmitters used for signalling that are expressed within them. By studying these details, we can unravel the mystery of how nervous systems function and their role in modifying animal physiology and behaviour .

Synapse-level studies require high-resolution analysis, and the technique that delivers the strongest resolving power to date is electron microscopy  (EM). I use serial section electron microscopy and related approaches to create several large, high-resolution 3D image datasets from which to reconstruct the cellular complement of an organism, including its neurons and their synaptic connections. I also use immunogold labeling of EM sections with antibodies raised against specific neuropeptides to explore the molecular character of individual neurons. Understanding the role of neuropeptidergic signaling and its modulation of synaptic expression is paramount in understanding nervous system communication.

Reconstructing the complete neuronal circuitry of an entire animal, however, is challenging and labor intensive. For example, the human brain has 86 billion neurons, with trillions of different connections between them. Therefore, the choice of specimen is crucial, since imaging resolution and data volume are key factors that must be considered. I use model organisms that are complex enough in their behaviors and neurocircuits, yet small enough in size for EM studies – such as the larval stages of marine invertebrates, like the marine worm Platynereis dumerilii.

I am also passionate about teaching and strive to promote education, training, and collaboration in the field of EM . For example, I have taught the EMBO practical course in advance electron microscopy techniques, as well as trained post-graduates in EM methods here in Exeter. If you are interested in applying the power of EM to your own research, please feel free to contact me at


2019  ASPIRE Associate Fellow, UK

          Associate Fellow of The Higher Education Academy, UK

2018  Certificate in Learning and Teaching Higher Education Programme (LTHE) Stage 1 & 2, University of Exeter, UK

2016  PhD Biology, University of Tübingen, Germany
1995  BSc Biology, University of British Columbia, Canada


2017-Present  Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Exeter, UK

2016-2017  Research Associate, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen, Germany.

2011-2016  Research Assistant, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen, Germany.





BIO2088 Advanced Cell Biology,

NSCM009 - Bioimaging - Scanning electron microscopy module


BIO2088 Advanced Cell Biology
Introduction to electron microscopy and high-resolution cell anatomy


EMBO Advance techniques in electron microscopy practical course, Invited teacher


Living Systems Institute
Mentored modules on electron microscopy and related techniques

Supervision / Group

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