Postdoctoral Researcher (Cell Biology and Microscopy)
Post Details
Job Title
Postdoctoral Researcher (Cell Biology and Microscopy)
Post Number
1003664
Closing Date
28 Apr 2019
Grade
SC6
Starting Salary
£31,250 - £38,100
Hours per week
37
Project Title
Origins of starch granule diversity in seeds of the grass family
Expected/Ideal Start Date
01 Jul 2019
Months Duration
36
Interview Date
09 May 2019

Job Description

Main Purpose of the Job

The aim of this research is to study the origins of starch granule diversity in cereal and grass seeds. Starch in the endosperm of cereal seeds is the single largest source of calories in the human diet, and an important raw material for industry. Despite its importance we know very little about how starch granules are formed during endosperm development. It is apparent that the temporal and spatial patterns of initiation of starch granules have diverged and diversified enormously during the 66 million years of evolution of the Pooideae subfamily to which temperate cereals and forage grasses belong. The project will identify the genetic and genomic basis of this starch granule diversity, using techniques including transcriptome analysis and bioinformatics tools, mutant selection and identification, transgenesis, cell biology and modelling.

Key Relationships

Internal: Line manager, group members; PI David Seung and members of his group and, as necessary, other researchers, research support staff especially in Horticultural Services, Bioinformatics and Bioimaging.

External: Dr Steve Kelly and members of his lab in Plant Sciences, University of OxfordCollaborators

Main Activities & Responsibilities

Percentage
Identify, plan, carry out and modify experiments to meet the objectives of the project
80
Liaise with industry and other external stakeholders
10
Prepare results, reports and manuscripts for publication in leading scientific journals and other relevant media
5
Disseminate research findings through presentations to various audiences at internal, national and international meetings
5
Collaborate with colleagues within the Institute in the development of original and world-class research, including contributing to research proposals and grant applications
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
Contribute to the smooth running of the group, including the effective use of resources, supervision of visitors to the laboratory and assisting with training others, encouraging scientific excellence
Continually strive for excellence, seeking out and acting on feedback and relevant learning and development opportunities
As agreed with the line manager, any other duties commensurate with the nature of the post, for example, contributing to the work of Institute committees

Person Profile

Education & Qualifications

Requirement
Importance
PhD (full award or expected within 6 months) or equivalent in Plant Science or related discipline
Essential
BSc or equivalent in Plant Science
Essential

Specialist Knowledge & Skills

Requirement
Importance
In-depth knowledge and skills in plant metabolism/biochemistry
Essential
Skills in cell biology and microscopy
Essential
Experience of working with cereals and/or grasses
Desirable
Experience in bioinformatics and modelling
Desirable

Relevant Experience

Requirement
Importance
Demonstrated ability to perform research and develop novel ideas
Essential
Proven record in scientific writing
Essential
Experience of oral research presentations
Desirable
Experience of supervising, training and mentoring visitors and students
Desirable

Interpersonal & Communication Skills

Requirement
Importance
Excellent communication skills, both written and oral, including the ability to present complex information with clarity
Essential
Good interpersonal skills, with the ability to work as part of a team
Essential
Demonstrated ability to work independently, using initiative and applying problem solving skills
Essential
Excellent time management and organisational skills
Essential
Ability to collaborate with internal and external stakeholders
Essential
Ability to follow instructions/Standard Operating Procedures
Essential

Additional Requirements

Requirement
Importance
Promotes equality and values diversity
Essential
Willingness to embrace the expected values and behaviours of all staff at the Institute, ensuring it is a great place to work
Essential
Ability to maintain confidentiality and security of information where appropriate
Essential
Able to present a positive image of self and the Institute, promoting both the international reputation and public engagement aims of the Institute
Essential
Willingness to work outside standard working hours when required
Desirable
Ability to undertake occasional travel (national and international) related to collaborations and/or seminars
Desirable

Who We Are

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.

For more information about working at the John Innes Centre, please click here.

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.

Department

Metabolic Biology

The aims of research in the Department of Metabolic Biology are to understand the basis of diversity in plant metabolism, and the interplay between metabolism and plant nutrition, development and responses to disease and stress. This information underpins the development of sustainable agriculture and bio-based industries.

Group Details

The Smith lab specialises in plant carbohydrate metabolism, particularly the synthesis and turnover of starch granules and the importance of these processes for plant growth and survival. Lab members work closely with the lab of Dr David Seung, which specialises in the process of starch granule initiation. Lab members make use of JIC facilities including Horticultural, Bioimaging, Proteomics, Plant Transformation and Bioinformatics services. Lab members also collaborate with other researchers at JIC and elsewhere on Norwich Research Park, including experts in the genomics and genetics of wheat and other cereals and experts on starch structural analysis and the digestion of starch in foods.

The post holder will have opportunities to attend a wide range of seminars by internal and external speakers, and national and international meetings relevant to their work. They will be strongly encouraged to present results to internal and external audiences. A wide range of training opportunities is also available, covering both professional and technical skills.

The project is in collaboration with the lab of bioinformatician Steve Kelly, University of Oxford, and the post holder will be expected to liaise regularly with the Kelly lab.

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Postdoctoral Researchers

Applications are invited for two Postdoctoral Researchers to join the Laboratory of Professor Alison Smith at the John Innes Centre based in Norwich, UK.

Background:

Starch in the endosperm of cereal seeds is the single largest source of calories in the human diet, and an important raw material for industry. Despite its importance we know very little about how starch granules are formed during endosperm development. It is apparent that the temporal and spatial patterns of initiation of starch granules have diverged and diversified enormously during the 66 million years of evolution of the Pooideae subfamily to which temperate cereals and forage grasses belong.

The project will be conducted in the Alison M Smith lab, in close collaboration with the David Seung lab. Both labs have strong interests and expertise in the synthesis and turnover of starch in plants, and access to a wide range of other expertise and technologies that may be necessary for the project. The project is a collaboration with Steve Kelly and his team in Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, who have expertise in comparative transcriptomics analyses.

The roles:

There are two positions available, each for a maximum of three years, to study the origins of starch granule diversity in cereal and grass seeds. One post holder will focus on cell biology and microscopy and the other will focus on bioinformatics and transcriptomics.   

The aim of this project is to identify the genetic basis of this starch granule diversity, using techniques including transcriptome analysis and bioinformatics tools, screens of mutant populations, and identification, transgenesis, cell biology and modelling.

The post holders will be encouraged to attend courses in technical and professional skills, to travel to national and international meetings, and to present their discoveries to internal and external audiences.

The ideal candidates:

One successful applicant is expected to have skills in cell biology and microscopy, and preferably in modelling. They will image cells and amyloplasts in developing endosperms to deduce how different spatial and temporal patterns of starch granule formation arise during seed development.

They will work alongside a second Postdoctoral Researcher who is expected to have experience of transcriptomics and associated bioinformatics. They will compare the transcriptomes of developing grass seeds with different patterns of granule initiation to identify genes that underlie seed starch diversity.

Applicants for both posts must have a background that includes plant biochemistry/metabolism, genetics and molecular biology, and should preferably have experience of working with cereals or grasses and with transgenic plants. The project requires good interpersonal skills and the ability to work both independently and as part of a team.

Additional information:

Salary on appointment will be within the range £31,250 to £38,100 per annum depending on qualifications and experience. Both posts are fulltime for a contract of 3 years.

Interviews will be held on 8th and 9th May 2019.

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.

The closing date for applications will be 28 April 2019.

The John Innes Centre is a registered charity (No. 223852) grant-aided by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and is an Equal Opportunities Employer.