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Research at St Andrews

Wenchang Li


Wenchang Li
Postal address:
School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Westburn Lane
St Andrews
United Kingdom


Direct phone: +44 (0)1334 463579

Research overview

My research uses young Xenopus laevis tadpoles as a simple model system to study the basic neuronal mechanisms underlying motor control. Apart from basic motor reflexes, tadpoles can swim forward when touched and struggle when held, with both behaviour powered by axial muscles. They also exhibit some acute, concussion-like response when swim into solid objects. The tadpole spinal cord and hindbrain are simple and highly accessible for recordings, making it an ideal place to investigate rules that may be common to the movements of different animal species. I’m also interested in how these mechanisms mature during neural development. Our research methods include electrophysiology, anatomy, optogenetics, mRNA microinjections and computer modelling.

Recent sample projects

Older projects


Lab members

Yi Lou  PhD student funded by the Chinese Scholarship Council and the University of St Andrews.



PhD positions:

New PhD research project funded by the University of Kent and jointly supervised by Dr Stella Koutsikou ( or +441634202946) and Wenchang Li. This project will start in Oct, 2018. Please contact Dr Koutsikou or me if you need more details.

I always welcome inquiries from students with genuine research interests on potential PhD projects, which can be on either locomotion or developmental plasticity. You should hold or expect to hold at least an upper second first degree in neuroscience or related subjects. In terms of funding, students of Chinese nationality in the last year of your BSc or MSc study may consider China Scholarship Council and University of St Andrews Scholarships, the deadline of which is Friday 19 January 2018. Therefore you need to contact me well in advance to discuss potential projects for your application. Other available studentships will be advertised on this webpage and/or other webpages.

Postdoctoral positions: none is open at the moment.


Former lab members

Nicola Porter: PhD student funded by BBSRC, now a free lance science writer.

Dr Peter Moult: postdoctoral research fellow funded by Wellcome Trust, now a lecturer at Abertay University.

Dr Hong-Yan Zhang: short-term postdoctoral research fellow funded by Wellcome Trust, now has her own lab in the University of Edinburgh.

Dr Erik Svensson: postdoctoral research fellow funded by BBSRC, now a postdoctoral researcher in Uppsala Universitet in Sweden.

Monica Wagner:  research assistant funded by BBSRC, now being trained to become a vet.



Dr Steve Soffe and Prof Alan Roberts at the University of Bristol

Prof Roman Borisyuk at Plymouth University

Prof Keith Sillar at the University of St Andrews

Dr Hong-Yan Zhang: at the University of Edinburgh

Dr Xinhua Shu: at Glasgow caledonian University

Research overview

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