Vacancy Details: Cryo-electron Microscopy Support Specialist

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John Innes Centre

JIC is an independent, international centre of excellence in plant science and microbiology. Our mission is to carry out fundamental and strategic research, to train scientists and to make our findings available to society.

The scientific research at the Centre makes use of a wide range of disciplines in the biological and chemical sciences, including cell biology, biochemistry, chemistry, genetics and molecular biology.

The John Innes Centre prides itself on being a welcoming and inclusive working environment for all. We have a diverse and multicultural scientific community and thrive on our European and international links. The John Innes Centre is proud to hold a prestigious Athena SWAN Gold award, recognising the impact of our work in promoting gender equality in science. For more information, go to We are also a proud member of the Stonewall Diversity Champion’s programme and, as a Disability Confident employer, guarantee to offer an interview to all disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria for the post.

The John Innes Centre is a registered charity (No. 223852), limited by guarantee (registered in England No. 511709) and is an Equal Opportunities Employer.

Athena Swan

disability confident employer

   Stonewall Diversity Champion

Advancing gender equality in science, engineering and technology.

Post Number1003388
Job TitleCryo-electron Microscopy Support Specialist
Closing Date26 Apr 2018
Starting Salary£31,250 - £38,100
Hours per week 37
Expected/Ideal Start Date 14 May 2018
Months Duration 36
Main purpose of the job This new role provides a great opportunity to join the John Innes Centre and it's state-of-the–art microscopy facility. The post-holder will benefit from a significant recent investment in new imaging equipment and play a central role in early development of both the Centre’s capability in cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-TEM) and application of cryo techniques by the scientific community of the Norwich Research Park. They will work closely with researchers to understand how cryo-TEM may be best utilised to meet their specific research needs and to provide the necessary technical support. They will help in establishing the new cryo-TEM resource as part of the Bioimaging facility, used to advance JIC science.

The instrumentation in question is an FEI Talos F200C (200kV, field emission, transmission electron microscope) and a Vitrobot (cryo-plunge device). The role will include providing technical support for the microscope itself, cryo-sample preparation, development of methods, acquiring images and analysing data. The new instrumentation will be used for screening cryo-samples before sending them to other sites where we have access to a high-end, FEI Titan Krios TEM for final data acquisition, so that we may perform single particle analysis for structural biology. It may also be used for cryo-electron tomography. The microscope will also be used for more standard applications such as imaging resin sections and negatively-stained samples, for which the post must offer support.

The job also entails helping with the other two electron microscopes (SEMs), various EM sample preparation equipment and general EM techniques used within the facility. Thus the post holder will mainly be responsible for assisting users with the cryo-TEM but they will also assure the continued smooth operation of the facility by helping other facility EM staff with the overall service workload, user training and troubleshooting on all our EM equipment, using a range of EM techniques.
Department Cell & Developmental Biology
Development continues throughout the life of the plant. While many linear pathways affecting development have been discovered and are illustrated by elegant genetic studies, the challenge of the future will be for us to understand how these developmental pathways are integrated, both with themselves as well as with environmental signals, to enable a mature plant to grow from a seed.  Guided by evolutionary principles, the Department uses its knowledge of biological processes obtained in laboratory organisms such as Arabidopsis to understand processes in crop plants such as Brassicas and cereals.  To study this interaction of the plant genome with internal developmental networks and the environment, the Department uses a combination of genetic, cell biological, molecular and evolutionary strategies. The insights we are gaining provide both an increasingly detailed knowledge of the proteins involved in diverse regulatory mechanisms and a conceptual framework in which this knowledge can be related and eventually integrated into a molecular description of plant cell function.   The knowledge the department is creating is relevant to agriculture. Genes that control plant stature, form, over-wintering responses and growth are potentially useful for improving crop performance.
Group Details This new post will be embedded within the Bioimaging facility, which supports the light and electron microscopy requirements of the research groups of the John Innes Centre (JIC) in Norwich. The JIC is a leading, independent, international research institute in the field of plant and microbial sciences. The Bioimaging facility has expanded considerably in recent years and has just replaced a transmission electron microscope (TEM) with a new TEM capable of imaging cryo-samples on plunge-frozen grids. This is a new capability on the Norwich Research Park. We also have two field-emission scanning electron microscopes with cryosystems, a high pressure-freezer, 6 confocals, an instrument for SIM and STORM (super-resolution techniques), and a wide range of other light microscopes and sample preparation equipment. We provide microscopy services, training and technical support for the scientists of the JIC and can work on collaborative imaging projects from across the wider Norwich Research Park, including The Sainsbury Laboratory.
Advert Text Applications are invited for a Cryo-electron Microscopy Support Specialist to join the Bioimaging team at the John Innes Centre.

The role:

The John Innes Centre (JIC) is looking for an enthusiastic individual to help fully establish and provide support for a new cryo-TEM, working with biological samples, in collaboration with multiple research groups within the JIC and The Sainsbury Laboratory, and sometimes from the wider Norwich Research Park (NRP). The new microscope is a FEI Talos F200C (200kV, field emission, transmission electron microscope) with a Gatan camera and Vitrobot (cryo-plunge device).

The post holder will become an integral part of the Bioimaging team, bringing knowledge and expertise in cryo-TEM to complement the Facility’s existing TEM, SEM and optical imaging skill-set. Duties will involve using routine methods and developing new ones and applying them to a diverse range of research projects, day-to-day maintenance and operation of the instruments, sample preparation and data analysis to assist with manuscript submission. Activities may also include supporting other electron microscopy applications such as standard biological sample preparation for TEM and cryo-SEM.

The ideal candidate:

Candidates must be educated to BSc level or equivalent to be considered for the role. Although experience in cryo-TEM would be advantageous, broad experience with TEM and an enthusiastic and motivated attitude are more important as full training with the cryo-TEM can be provided.

The ideal applicant will have extensive practical experience of using transmission electron microscopes and of a range of biological sample preparation techniques for EM in general, combined with some experience of applications development. Knowledge of cryogenic methods is extremely advantageous. Experience in the downstream cryo-TEM image analysis and processing will also be of benefit, or the ability and willingness to learn these skills.

Excellent communication and interpersonal skills are essential, as is a keen interest in biological science. The successful candidate will have proven ability to work closely with researchers to understand their needs and translate these into EM approaches and applications. Budget management experience is desirable.

Additional information:

Salary on appointment will be within the range £31,250 to £38,100 per annum depending on qualifications and experience. Initially, this post is for a contract of three years.

Previous applicants are welcome to re-apply.

For further information and details of how to apply, please visit our web site or contact the Human Resources team on 01603 450462 or quoting reference 1003388.

We are an equal opportunities employer, actively supporting inclusivity and diversity. As a Disability Confident organisation, we guarantee to offer an interview to all disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria for this vacancy. The John Innes Centre is also proud to hold a Gold Award from Athena SWAN and is a member of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme.
Key relationships The post-holder will work closely with Kim Findlay (Head of Bioimaging and EM Specialist) and Elaine Barclay (Electron Microscopy Support Technician) and interact, to a lesser extent, with two other members of the Bioimaging team (optical microscopy support specialists). They will be expected to interact regularly with the research scientists and students, to discuss their electron microscopy needs and support their work. The post holder will be expected to contribute to the training programme provided by the platform, teaching others about EM and how to use the equipment. They may also be asked to take part in Outreach activities organised by the Bioimaging facility, involving interactions with schoolchildren, the public and other external visitors. There are no line management duties.
Main Activities & ResponsibilitiesPercentage
Establishing a new cryo-TEM resource; preparation of samples for cryo-TEM, day-to-day basic maintenance and operation of the instrumentation, developing methods, supporting the users and assisting with trouble-shooting.45
Plan, perform, trouble-shoot and analyse TEM and SEM experiments as necessary, using the results to assist in the preparation of manuscripts for the research groups.40
Ensure research and record keeping is carried out in accordance with good practice, scientific integrity and in compliance with local policies and any legal requirements.5
Contribute to the smooth running of the Bioimaging facility through the most effective use of resources, helping with service work, supervision of visitors to the lab, assistance and training others as required, always encouraging scientific excellence.5
Assist with outreach activities organised by the Bioimaging facility, involving interactions with schoolchildren, the public and other external visitors.5
As agreed with line manager, any other duties commensurate with the nature of the role.

Education & QualificationsRequirementImportance
Educated to BSc level or equivalentEssential
PhD or equivalent (ideally in biological sciences)Desirable

Specialist Knowledge & SkillsRequirementImportance
In-depth knowledge and experience of electron microscopy in general (both instrument design and biological sample preparation)Essential
Keen interest in biological scienceEssential
Experience in cryo-TEM.Desirable

Relevant ExperienceRequirementImportance
Extensive use of transmission electron microscopes (preferably using FEI TEMs).Essential
Cryogenic sample preparation for EMDesirable
Operation of high-end SEMsDesirable
Experience of working in a multi-user facility.Desirable
Experience of single particle analysis and reconstruction software (eg RELION)Desirable

Interpersonal & Communication SkillsRequirementImportance
Excellent interpersonal skills.Essential
Excellent time management and organisational skills.Essential
Excellent communication skills, both written and oral, including the ability to present complex information with clarity.Essential
Ability to learn complex technical procedures quickly.Essential
Ability to solve technical problems and make independent decisions.Essential
Ability to prioritise when working under pressure and meet the demands of the group.Essential

Additional RequirementsRequirementImportance
Promotes equality and values diversityEssential
Willingness to work outside standard working hours when required.Desirable
Ability to undertake occasional travel (national and international).Desirable

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