Postdoctoral Researcher
Post Details
Job Title
Postdoctoral Researcher
Post Number
Closing Date
19 May 2021
Starting Salary
£32,255 - £39,345
Hours per week
Project Title
Understanding the molecular and genetic basis of disease resistance in pea.
Expected/Ideal Start Date
01 Jun 2021
Months Duration
Interview Date
25 May 2021

Job Description

Main Purpose of the Job

The postholder will contribute to understanding the molecular and genetic basis of disease resistance in pea. The successful candidate will work to establish disease assays for major pea pathogens (e.g., downy mildew, root rots) in collaboration with the pathology group at NIAB in Cambridge, identify major pathogens using Illumina/MinION sequencing technologies, and cross pea lines to pyramid identified resistance genes into single cultivars for field study. The post holder will provide regular reports of the project to the line manager and help draft manuscripts resulting from the project. The position is for 12 months in the first instance, with the possibility of further extension.

Key Relationships

The post holder will mostly work independently and will report to the line manager in weekly or biweekly meetings. The individual will have close working relationships with Professor Domoney's group at JIC, Dr Thomas's group at NIAB, Cambridge and all the members of the Arora group. There will be an opportunity to interact with the members of the Pulse Crop Genetic Improvement Network and industrial collaborators.

Main Activities & Responsibilities

Set up plant phenotyping assays for major pea pathogens, screen a Pisum diversity panel to investigate loci for disease resistance, design genetic markers using bioinformatics tools and transfer resistance genes to cultivars.
Help develop diagnostics to identify pathogens from soil samples and correlate their variation with disease in collaboration with growers and industry.
Oversee growing of 250 pea accessions, harvesting seeds and material for molecular analysis.
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.
Disseminate research findings through presentations. Prepare reports and manuscripts for publication in leading scientific journals.
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.
As agreed with the line manager, any other duties commensurate with the nature of the post

Person Profile

Education & Qualifications

PhD (full award or expected within 6 months) in Biology, Plant pathology, Genetics or related discipline
BSc or equivalent in Biological sciences or related discipline

Specialist Knowledge & Skills

Basic bioinformatics skills including marker development and sequence comparisons
Skilled in molecular biology techniques
Knowledge of plant/legume genetics and genome analysis
Experience of working with latest sequencing technologies such as MinION

Relevant Experience

Demonstrated ability to perform research, work independently and develop novel ideas in the area of plant pathology
Recent experience of working with plant pathogens and carrying out plant disease assays
Proven record in scientific writing
Experience of oral research presentations
Experience of supervising, training and mentoring visitors and students
Previous experience in plant biology/pathology

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

Attention to detail
Promotes equality and values diversity
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
Willingness to embrace the expected values and behaviours of all staff at the Institute, ensuring it is a great place to work

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).


Biochemistry and Metabolism

Group Details

This role will be based in the Arora group in the Department of Biochemistry and Metabolism. The focus of the Arora lab is to explore the natural diversity of the Pisum species to find genetic sources of resistance to the devastating diseases of pea (root rots, powdery and downy mildew, aphid-bearing) against which the current control strategies are not particularly effective. The group's interest lies in developing novel genomic approaches to understand the complexity of host and pathogen populations and study their interaction.

Living in Norfolk


Advert Text

Postdoctoral Researcher
Salary:            £32,255 to £39,345 depending on qualifications and experience.
Contract:        12 months (full time) with possibility of extension 
Location:        John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK.
Closing date:  19 May 2021 
Reference:     1004044

An exciting opportunity has arisen for a Postdoctoral Researcher to join the Arora lab in the Biochemistry and Metabolism department at the John Innes Centre. The post-holder will work alongside experienced plant molecular geneticists and biochemists in investigating the basis for resistance and susceptibility to disease in pea, using newly acquired genomic sequences, state-of-the-art genomic tools and germplasm resources. 

About the John Innes Centre:

The John Innes Centre is an independent, international centre of excellence in plant science, genetics and microbiology. We nurture a creative, curiosity led approach to answering fundamental questions in bioscience, and translate that knowledge into societal benefits.

Our employees enjoy access to state-of-the-art technology and a diverse range of specialist training opportunities, including support for career development, leadership and management. Click here to find out more about working at the John Innes Centre.

About the Arora group

The focus of the Arora lab is on developing genomics and breeding-based solutions to tackle the newly emerged, devastating diseases of pea. 

The role:

The John Innes Centre maintains a unique and genetically diverse Pisum collection which will be used by the Postdoctoral Researcher in genetic screens using major pathogens of pea (including Downy mildew and Root rots) to identify the basis for the underlying genetic variation. You will collaborate with NIAB, Cambridge, to culture isolates of these pathogens and establish phenotyping assays to discover resistance genes from pea diversity panels. There will be an opportunity to develop molecular diagnostics for pathogen identification using latest sequencing technologies (Illumina/MinION) and implement state-of-the-art bioinformatics pipelines.  

In this role, you will have the opportunity to develop bioinformatics skills and implement them to understand the complexity of plant-pathogen interactions. You will also work with world leading scientists who are experts in their field and become part of the UK's Pulse Crop Genetic Improvement Network (

The job description describes work in support of the Group's current research direction.  As this evolves, the postholder may have the opportunity to support wider research interests.  

The ideal candidate:

You will have a PhD (full award or expected within 6 months) or equivalent in Biology, Plant Pathology/Genetics or a similar subject. You will have excellent skills in molecular biology and plant pathology techniques, demonstrable experience of doing pathogen assays independently, and a good understanding of genetics and basic bioinformatics skills. 

Additional information:

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. We are proud to hold a prestigious Gold Athena SWAN award in recognition of our inclusive culture, commitment and good practices towards advancing of gender equality. We offer an exciting, stimulating, diverse research environment and actively promote a family friendly workplace. The Institute is also a member of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme.