Postdoctoral Researcher
Post Details
Job Title
Postdoctoral Researcher
Post Number
Closing Date
14 Aug 2022
Starting Salary
£33,050 - £40,750
Hours per week
Project Title
Epigenetic reprogramming in plant germlines
Expected/Ideal Start Date
14 Nov 2022
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: Line manager, group members and, as necessary, other researchers, research support staff and students across the Institute.

External: Collaborators

Main Activities & Responsibilities

Identify, plan, carry out and modify experiments 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
Liaise with industry and other external stakeholders
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) in biological sciences or a related discipline
BSc or equivalent in biological sciences

Specialist Knowledge & Skills

Good knowledge of epigenetics and genetics
Proficient in molecular biology techniques
Bioinformatics skills
Biochemistry and bioimaging skills

Relevant Experience

Demonstrated ability to perform research and develop novel ideas
Proven record in scientific writing
Experience of oral research presentations
Experience in molecular biology/cloning
Experience in working with plants
Experience in epigenetic and genomic studies
Experience of supervising, training and mentoring students

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 and microbial genetics, 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).


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

Germ cells are “immortal” as they can be indefinitely transmitted through generations. A key regulator of their immortality is genome-wide reprogramming of chromatin state beyond the genetic (called ‘epigenetic’) code. Understanding this reprogramming is a crucial aspect of germline biology. Conversely, germlines are also essential for understanding epigenetics because they mediate inheritance and uniquely undergo large-scale epigenetic changes. Compared to animals, plant germlines differentiate much later and undergo distinct epigenetic changes despite highly conserved epigenetic pathways. These differences make plant germlines invaluable for revealing the core principles of epigenetics and sexual reproduction. Plant germlines are also of enormous practical significance because they produce the seeds that comprise most of our staple food. Our research aims to answer 3 interconnected questions regarding plant germline epigenetics: 1) How do chromatin landscapes change during germline development and what are the underlying mechanisms? 2) What are the biological functions of these epigenetic changes? 3) How are environment-induced epigenetic memories transmitted and/or erased in germlines? Through addressing these questions, we hope to provide deep insights into epigenetic mechanisms and germline functions, and reveal how chromatin is developmentally regulated and in turn directs development.

Living in Norfolk


Postdoctoral Researcher
Salary:            £33,050 - £40,750 per annum depending on qualifications and experience.
Contract:        2 Years, full time
Location:        John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK.
Closing date: 14th August 2022
Reference:     1004296

An exciting opportunity has arisen for a Postdoctoral Researcher to join the Feng Group at the John Innes Centre, working on cutting-edge science in the field of epigenetic reprogramming in plant germlines.

About the John Innes Centre:

The John Innes Centre is an independent, international centre of excellence in plant and microbial sciences. We nurture a creative, curiosity-led approach to answering fundamental questions in bioscience, and translate that knowledge into societal benefits. Our strategic vision, Healthy Plants, Healthy People, Healthy Planet, sets out our ambitious long-term goals for the game changing impact of our science globally. 

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

About the Feng Group:

The Feng laboratory uses the Arabidopsis male germline as a model system to study the mechanisms underlying germline epigenetic reprogramming. The ease of cell isolation, tolerance of Arabidopsis for epigenetic mutations, and the conservation in epigenetic machineries between plants and animals makes the Arabidopsis male germline a uniquely powerful model for understanding germline epigenetics. Dr Feng's lab members have opportunities supported by ERC, EMBO and BBSRC for training and networking. The Postdoctoral Researcher will benefit from the training in the Feng lab, various programs available at JIC, and interactions with scientists in JIC, and the closely associated Sainsbury Laboratory and Quadram Institute Bioscience.

The role:

Funded by ERC, the Postdoctoral Researcher will investigate the mechanisms underlying germline chromatin reconfigurations using a combination of genetics, epigenomics, imaging, developmental biology and biochemistry approaches.

In addition, they will also carry out the following activities:

•Prepare results, reports and manuscripts for publication in leading scientific journals

•Disseminate research findings through presentations to various audiences at national and international meetings

•Collaborate with experts within the Institute and worldwide in the development of original and world-class research, including contributing to research proposals and grant applications

The ideal candidate:

The Feng Lab welcomes scientists who are passionate about epigenetics and germlines to apply. Candidates should have strong expertise in molecular genetics and possess a proven record in scientific writing. The ideal candidate should have a PhD (full award or expected within 6 months of applying) in biological sciences or a related discipline with previous experience in molecular biology.

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.

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