Postdoctoral Researcher
Post Details
Job Title
Postdoctoral Researcher
Post Number
Closing Date
25 Feb 2020
Starting Salary
£31,625 - £38,575
Hours per week
Project Title
Shape Shifting Stomata: The Role of Geometry in Plant Cell Function
Months Duration

Job Description

Main Purpose of the Job

Postdoctoral Researchers work with limited supervision to carry out individual and collaborative research projects relevant to the overall needs of the research programme.

Key Relationships

Internal: Prof Richard Morris, Dr Richard Smith

External: Prof Andrew Fleming, Prof Julie Gray (Sheffield)

Main Activities & Responsibilities

Plan, carry out and modify computer simulations to meet the objectives of the project
Prepare results, reports and manuscripts for publication in leading scientific journals and other relevant media
Disseminate research findings through presentations to various audiences at internal, national and international meetings
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

PhD (full award or expected within 6 months) or equivalent in biophysics, computational biology or related discipline
BSc or equivalent in a scientific discipline

Specialist Knowledge & Skills

Scientific programming
Plant development

Relevant Experience

Demonstrated ability to perform research and develop novel ideas in a computational mechanics, biomechanics, applied mathematics, or computer vision
Proven record in scientific writing
Experience of oral research presentations
Experience of supervising, training and mentoring visitors and students
Preparing data / information for grant proposals

Interpersonal & Communication Skills

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

Additional Requirements

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

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, appointing staff from across the world. Any candidate who would like further information on current or anticipated immigration requirements can contact the HR Team on +44 (0)1603 450888 or

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, a founding signatory of the Tecnician Commitment 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).


Computational and Systems Biology

The Department of Computational and Systems Biology conducts leading research across a broad range of the biological sciences, with a special focus on spatial problems in plant and microbial research. Particular strengths of the department include mathematical and statistical modelling of the physical mechanisms underlying biological pattern formation and comparative genomics. In addition, the department has strong bioinformatics that underpins the research of the institute through training, software development and statistical analysis.
Whilst much of the research is carried out in close collaboration with world-leading experimental groups within the John Innes Centre, we have strong international collaborations with experimentalists and theoreticians worldwide.

Group Details

Morris: Computational and systems biology; plant physics; biomechanics; information processing; bioinformatics;
Smith: Plant mechanics; computer simulation; computer graphics; plant development; morphodynamics;


Advert Text

Postdoctoral Researcher

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Researcher to join the groups of Prof Richard Morris and Dr Richard Smith at the John Innes Centre based in Norwich, UK.


Plants adapt to their environment. In order to do so they continuously monitor their surroundings and encode relevant information into cellular signals which are used to trigger appropriate responses.

We are interested in the biophysics of how plants carry out this information processing and the mechanisms underlying their responses to external challenges. In close collaboration with experimental groups we develop mathematical and computational approaches based on physical processes to provide mechanistic insights in complex phenomena. We use whichever approaches and techniques are the most appropriate to the problem we’re investigating.

Morris Group: Computational and systems biology; plant physics; biomechanics; information processing; bioinformatics.

Smith Group: Plant mechanics; computer simulation; computer graphics; plant development; morphodynamics.

The role:

We are seeking a Postdoctoral Researcher to join a new BBSRC-funded collaboration “Shape shifting stomata: the role of geometry in plant cell function”.

This joint project between Sheffield (Fleming, Gray) and the John Innes Centre (Morris, Smith) will develop a mechanistic model of how 4-celled grass stomata (pressure operated valves) open and close.

Following our successful development of a computational model for Arabidopsis (Carter et al. (2017) Curr. Biol., 27, 297483; Woolfenden et al. (2018) TIPS 23, 822-32) we are taking an iterative experimental/modelling approach to investigate the function of 4-celled stomata (typically found in our most important crop species).

Within this interdisciplinary project your role will be to develop computational models of these cells and to investigate how their geometry and material properties influence their dynamical behaviour.

The ideal candidate:

Your background will be in physics, computer science, mathematics, engineering or computational biology, with experience in scientific programming and ideally knowledge of biomechanics and plant development. Training in relevant areas will be provided.

Additional information:

Salary on appointment will be within the range £31,625 to £38,575 per annum depending on qualifications and experience. This is a full-time post for a contract of 3 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.

The closing date for applications will be 25 February 2020.  

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