Postdoctoral Researcher
Post Details
Job Title
Postdoctoral Researcher
Post Number
Closing Date
11 Dec 2022
Starting Salary
£33,050 - £40,750
Hours per week
Project Title
Regulation of plant cell size coupled to DNA content
Expected/Ideal Start Date
01 Mar 2023
Months Duration
Interview Date
10 Jan 2023

Job Description

Main Purpose of the Job

The post holder will carry out research described in the UKRI Frontiers-funded project "Regulation of plant cell size coupled to DNA content". The broad objective will be to reveal how the regulation of cell size is linked to cell fate decisions during plant development. Within this broad aim, the post holder will design, execute and interpret experiments to test the initial hypotheses described in the project, then propose and test their own hypotheses, informed by results.

They will also organise their data in a way that can be efficiently shared within the group and externally after publication; communicate ideas and results effectively within the group and externally, for example through talks at conferences and writing manuscripts; train junior members of the team in specific techniques; participate in outreach activities, such as events in science festivals or interactions with the media.

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
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 line manager, any other duties commensurate with the nature of the role

Person Profile

Education & Qualifications

PhD (full award or expected within 6 months) or equivalent in molecular biology, cell biology or related discipline
BSc or equivalent in life sciences

Specialist Knowledge & Skills

Demonstrated ability to perform high-quality research and develop novel ideas in an area relevant to the project
Proficiency in molecular biology, including efficient production of DNA constructs, generation and selection of transgenic lines
Bioimaging skills (e.g. confocal microscopy, super-resolution microscopy)
Python programming

Relevant Experience

Experience of oral research presentations
Proven record of scientific writing
Experience of supervising, training and mentoring visitors and students
Experience in Arabidopsis developmental genetics
Experience in coding for data analysis

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
Promotes and strives for continuous improvement
Rigorous, analytical mind
Ability to propose novel and creative ideas to address biological questions

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
Ability to undertake occasional travel (national and international) related to collaborations and/or seminars
Willingness to work outside standard working hours when required
Ability to maintain confidentiality and security of information where appropriate
Able to present a positive image of self and the Institute, promoting both the international reputation and public engagement aims of the Institute
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

The group led by Prof. Robert Sablowski focuses on fundamental aspects of plant development, with emphasis on meristem development and early organogenesis. More recently, the group has been exploring how cell growth is coordinated with cell cycle progression during shoot development.

Living in Norfolk


Postdoctoral Researcher
Salary:            £33,050 - £40,750 per annum depending on qualifications and experience.
Contract:        Full time, 3 years
Location:        John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK.
Closing date: 11th December 2022
Reference:     1004365

An exciting opportunity has arisen for a Postdoctoral Researcher to join the Sablowski Group at the John Innes Centre, working on cutting-edge science in the field of Cell and Developmental Biology.

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 Sablowski Group:

The Sablowski lab works on the genetics and cell biology of meristem and early organ development in the model plant species, Arabidopsis thaliana. The team is relatively small (5-6 members), collaborative and led by a supervisor who is active at the bench. Reflecting the quality of their research and training, more than half of the Postdocs who worked in the team moved up to long-term research positions in academia or industry.

Recent work in the group has focused on the genetic control of cell size. From bacteria to humans, cell size is important for many processes, including exchange of nutrients and signals, cell division and the function of specialized cells. However, how cells achieve and maintain their genetically controlled size has been a longstanding mystery. The Sablowski team has recently shown that in meristem cells, DNA content is used as a reference to adjust cell cycle progression to cell size (doi:10.1126/science.abb4348).

The aims of the next phase of this project include identifying protein-chromatin interactions at the core of the cell size control mechanism, revealing how cell size control is linked to cell fate decisions, testing whether the mechanism explains why cell size correlates with genome size, and whether cell size control has been re-calibrated during the evolution of polyploid plants.

The role:

The successful applicant will investigate how cell size and cell fate are linked during plant development. Within this broad aim, the post holder will design, execute, and interpret experiments to test initial hypotheses defined in the project, then propose and test their own hypotheses, informed by results.

The ideal candidate:

You will have a PhD (full award or expected within 6 months) or equivalent in molecular biology, cell biology or a related discipline. The ideal candidate will have a rigorous, analytical, and creative mind, passion for curiosity-driven science and research experience in cell biology and/or developmental genetics. Proficiency in molecular biology and bioimaging is required; experience in Arabidopsis genetics and coding (particularly in Python) will be advantageous.

Additional information:

Interviews will be held on 10 January 2023.

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.