Research Assistant

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John Innes Centre

The John Innes Centre is an independent, international centre of excellence in plant science and microbiology, carrying out fundamental and strategic research, to train scientists and making our findings available to society.

Our research makes use of a wide range of disciplines in the biological and chemical sciences including; cell biology, biochemistry, chemistry, genetics and molecular biology.

We pride ourselves 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. We are proud to hold a prestigious Athena SWAN Gold award, recognising the impact of our work in promoting gender equality in science. 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.

Post Details

Job Title
Research Assistant
Post Number
1003476
Closing Date
31 Jul 2018
Grade
sc6
Starting Salary
£31,250 - £38,100
Hours per week
37
Expected/Ideal Start Date
03 Sep 2018
Months Duration
36

Main Purpose of the Job

Enhance the research of the Balk group by giving support to PhD students and postdocs, as well as carrying out experiments to complete manuscripts. Additionally, the post holder will take responsibility for maintaining stock levels and support new lab members to use equipment effectively.
The RA will divide their time between day-to-day operational assistance to the group and delivering specific scientific projects. The RA will provide technical support, advice and problem-solving to group members and UEA / JIC colleagues on specific skills and techniques. The post holder will take an active role in developing new techniques, procedures and innovations for the group. When required, the RA will independently carry out experiments to complete manuscripts or start new projects. In addition, the RA is responsible for the effective management of lab resources; health and safety; and for training students in basic laboratory skills. The RA is expected to contribute as an author to primary research publications, to experimental sections of grant applications and, occasionally, to give a research presentation.

Department

Biological Chemistry

The Biological Chemistry Department at the John Innes Centre carries out fundamental research on molecular processes in plants and microbes. With activities ranging from determining DNA topoisomerase structure to mechanism and the generation of novel functional nanostructures from engineered viruses, we employ a multidisciplinary approach that embraces contemporary aspects of enzymology, structural and molecular biology, bionanotechnology, carbohydrate and natural product chemistry. Coupled with state-of-the-art platform technologies for structural, proteomic and chemical genomic analysis, the Department bridges the gap between molecular science and cellular and systems biology. Collectively these studies provide key information with which to manipulate and control molecules, pathways and processes of agronomic, environmental and industrial importance.

Group Details

The group of Dr Janneke Balk is based in the Biological Chemistry department of JIC. As a synergy appointment with the University of East Anglia (BIO), Janneke and her group have many interactions across the Norwich Research Park. The research focus of the group is on iron homeostasis in plants including plant-microbe interactions. Current projects address the assembly of iron cofactors, iron sensing and regulation, and iron mobilization into seeds and grain for human nutrition. We mostly ask questions of a biochemical nature, for example what is the molecular function or enzyme activity of a recently discovered protein, which proteins are part of a biochemical pathway, and what protein-protein interactions occur. In addition to Arabidopsis as a model plant, we work on Medicago to study iron in nitrogen-fixing root nodules, and on wheat and pea for nutritional studies. We also work with Yarrowia yeast as a model for mitochondrial disease and with bacteria for cloning and protein expression. Our research is funded by BBSRC, H2020 and other sources.

Advert Text

Applications are invited for a Research Assistant to join the Laboratory of Dr Janneke Balk at the John Innes Centre.

Background:

The John Innes Centre (JIC) is an independent, international centre of excellence in plant science, genetics and microbiology.

The group of Dr Janneke Balk is based in the Biological Chemistry department of JIC. As a synergy appointment with the University of East Anglia (BIO), Janneke and her group have many interactions across the Norwich Research Park. The research focus of the group is on iron homeostasis in plants including plant-microbe interactions. Current projects address the assembly of iron cofactors, iron sensing and regulation, and iron mobilization into seeds and grain for human nutrition.

The role:

The main purpose of the RA position is to enhance the output of the research group, by giving support to PhD students and postdocs, as well as carrying out experiments to complete manuscripts. Additionally, the post holder will take responsibility for maintaining stock levels and support new lab members to use equipment effectively.

The ideal candidate:

Applicants are expected to have an MSc, or equivalent, in Biology, Biochemistry or related subject. A PhD is desirable for the position. The postholder will operate independently with regards to managing day-to-day research activities of the group, and delivering experimental data. Skills in molecular cloning, protein purification and chromatography are essential. Some knowledge of metal proteins and experience with cell biology techniques is also very welcome.

Additional information:

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

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 RA will be line-managed by the project leader (PL), Janneke Balk. The RA will maintain good relationships with all group members, and be aware of each individual research project and its technical demands. The RA will be the first port of call for students and visitors carrying out short-term research projects, although the supervision will be shared with other group members and the PL. The RA will maintain good relationships with RAs from other groups, the building manager, technical support staff and platforms, to ensure smooth operation of shared equipment and the JIC research infrastructure as a whole.

Main Activities & Responsibilities

Percentage
Independently and effectively carry out experiments, including controls, trouble-shooting and producing draft figures/tables of the results
40
Provide technical support, experimental advice and problem-solving to members of the research group and other colleagues.
20
Design and supervise small research projects for students
10
Responsible for stocks and biological materials
10
Effective management of consumable budgets
5
Responsible for equipment purchases, maintenance and repairs
5
Demonstrate how to operate standard lab equipment
5
Demonstrate cloning and biochemistry techniques
5
As agreed with line manager, any other duties commensurate with the nature of the role

Education & Qualifications

Requirement
Importance
MSc, or equivalent, in Biology, Biochemistry or related subject
Essential
PhD in Biology, Biochemistry or related subject
Desirable

Specialist Knowledge & Skills

Requirement
Importance
Up-to-date with molecular cloning techniques
Essential
Protein expression and purification in E. coli and other organisms
Essential
Understanding of HPLC, LC-MS, NGS
Essential
Attention to detail
Essential
Cell biology techniques
Desirable
Knowledge of metal proteins
Desirable

Relevant Experience

Requirement
Importance
Experience with training & supervising students
Essential
Experience with project management
Essential
Scientific writing and presenting results
Desirable

Interpersonal & Communication Skills

Requirement
Importance
Excellent organisation and time management
Essential
Excellent communication skills
Essential
Able to work collaboratively as part of a team
Essential
Able to work independently using own initiative
Essential
Effective in information gathering and dissemination
Essential

Additional Requirements

Requirement
Importance
Promotes equality and values diversity
Essential
Willing to work occasionally out of hours
Essential
Willing to travel to conferences (occasionally)
Desirable