Research Assistant
: Job Details :

Company : University of Edinburgh

Job Location : Edinburgh, UK

Posted on : Wed, 16 Sep 2020 12:10:31 GMT

Job Description :

Research Assistant
Vacancy Ref: : 053214 Closing Date : 12-Oct-2020
Contact Person : Dr Stephen Wallace Contact Number :
Contact Email :

We are seeking a highly motivated Research Assistant in Chemical Biotechnology to join our laboratory based at the Institute for Quantitative Biology, Biochemistry and Biotechnology (IQB3) within the King’s Buildings campus of the University of Edinburgh. The appointee will support ongoing research in the Wallace Lab ( focused on the combined use of chemical and biological catalysis in microbial cells for the sustainable production of industrial chemicals.

The role will be primarily focussed on research but will also include a significant supervisory role, including the management of day-to-day research activities in the group, organisation of lab strains, coordination of group meetings and seminars. Key aspects of the role will include the assembly and optimisation of new biosynthetic pathways in E. coli, the screening of new biocompatible catalysts, and the analysis of novel metabolites using a variety of analytical techniques.

The applicant should have a MSc or PhD-level qualification in biotechnology, biocatalysis, chemical biology, or a related field, and be motivated to join a newly-established, energetic and multidisciplinary research environment. The applicant should be driven, well-organised with significant prior research experience and be motivated to develop novel biological alternatives to existing petrochemical methods of chemical synthesis

This Research Assistant position is full time, and fixed term until 30/04/2024.

Salary: UE06 £28,331 to £32,816 pa.

Closing date is 5pm (GMT) on 12th october 2020.

1. Job Details
Job title: Research Assistant
School/Support Department: School of Biological Sciences
Unit: Institute for Quantitative Biology, Biochemistry and Biotechnology (IQB3)
Line manager: Dr Stephen Wallace

2. Job Purpose
To provide research assistance and ensure the smooth running of the Wallace Lab with a focus on contributing to the combined use of chemical and biological catalysis in living microorganisms as part of a recent UKRI-funded research project.

3. Main Responsibilities (Approx % of time)

  • Research work (80%) to include:

Provide specialised technical support and conduct research experiments using a range of clearly defined research methods. To support the objectives of the project, collect and analyse a variety of chemical and microbiological data and contribute to publications.

Assist with supervision of student projects and/or instruction of students (including other research group members) in the use of lab equipment and the demonstration of techniques.

  • Project administration and lab maintenance (20%) to include:

Maintaining stocks of biological material and chemical reagents, and minor maintenance of equipment

Be responsible for health and safety records and risk assessments

    4. Planning and Organising
  • The post holder will have responsibilities for a range of duties in the Wallace Lab, which will require prioritisation and forward planning of research activity.
  • Plan own work in accordance with the overall timetable for the project(s) ensuring that all deadlines are met.
  • Contribute to the planning of the research through scheduling a programme of research experiments, and organisation of data analysis and review
  • Co-ordinate with other staff on the project to ensure timely progress
  • Planning provision of material and joint experiments with other research partners.
  • Maintaining the lab’s stocks of biological (microorganisms, DNA) and chemical (biocompatible catalysts, reagents) materials that will be used or generated in the project and electronic records of the stocks.
  • Planning and a training schedule for staff and students involved in the project in techniques and correct use of equipment.
    5. Problem Solving
  • To apply clearly defined research methods and techniques to research questions.
  • To analyse their own results and assess the quality and reproducibility of the data.
  • Resolve problems with experiments, making refinements to improve accuracy and reproducibility
  • Providing technical advice and problem solving for other lab members from chemistry and biology backgrounds working on the project
    6. Decision Making
  • Responsibility for prioritisation of allocated research duties, including how and when to schedule research experiments.
  • To make decisions about the experiments that need to be prioritised
  • To decide on what equipment and reagents to use for his/her experiments and to carefully record any changes to overall research methods.
  • Refer all decision-making regarding non-standard issues to line manager and seek guidance/direction, as required.
  • Reconciling conflicting demands for lab resources and equipment.

7. Key Contacts/Relationships
(i)Internal: (/i) Line manager and members of the immediate research team, members of other labs in IQB3. School Professional Services staff (Health and Safety, Building Manager).
(i)External: (/i) Collaborators in the School of Chemistry and industrial partners involved in this research.

    8. Knowledge, Skills and Experience Needed for the Job
  • MSc-level qualification in biotechnology, biocatalysis, chemical biology or a related field
  • Experience in DNA assembly, cloning and the recombinant expression of enzymes in bacteria or yeast. Genome modification techniques in bacteria and yeast. Experience in HPLC and/or GC.
  • Knowledge of cellular metabolism, culturing techniques and molecular biology tools to manipulate cellular function. Skills in molecular biology and a competency in chemical synthesis.
  • Strong organisational skills and ability to perform accurate experimental work, including maintaining clear and accurate records
  • Ability to communicate effectively both orally and in writing at a level appropriate to the research, and collaborate with a multidisciplinary team
  • A PhD in biotechnology, biocatalysis or chemical biology or a related field
  • Experience in Health and Safety within a chemistry or molecular biology lab environment and of GM risk assessment and good practice in microbial research.
  • Experience in managing stocks of chemical and biological material (including electronic records).
  • Knowledge of chemical synthesis, catalysis and biocompatible chemistry
    9. Dimensions
    To work as part of the Wallace group ( comprising approximately 8 research staff and students.
  • Responsibility for meeting research project milestones
  • Provide technical training and advice to 6 PhD students and 2 BSc/MSc students per year
  • Responsibility for operation and maintenance of equipment

10. Job Context and any other relevant information
The appointee will support ongoing research in the Wallace Lab ( on the combined use of chemical and biological catalysis in microbial cells for the sustainable production of industrial chemicals. The role will be primarily focussed on research but will also include a significant supervisory role, including the management of day-to-day research activities in the group, organisation of lab strains, coordination of group meetings and seminars. Key aspects of the role will include the assembly and optimisation of new biosynthetic pathways in E. coli, the screening of new biocompatible catalysts, and the analysis of novel metabolites produced in cell cultures via various analytical techniques (e.g. NMR, GC, HPLC). The applicant should have a strong background in biotechnology, biocatalysis, chemical biology and/or organic chemistry at MSc or PhD level with a desire to pursue the development of novel biological solutions to environmental issues facing the chemical industry.

Application Procedure

All applicants should apply online by clicking the apply link at the bottom of this and submitting an up to date CV. The application process is quick and easy to follow, and you will receive email confirmation of safe receipt of your application. The online system allows you to submit a CV and other attachments.

You will be notified by email whether you have been shortlisted for interview or not.
The closing date is 5pm on 12th October 2020.

Right to Work
In accordance with UK legislation the University of Edinburgh, as an employer, has a legal responsibility to prevent illegal working and therefore must check that all employees are entitled to work in the United Kingdom (UK).

To do so, the University requires to see original documents evidencing right to work in the UK before commencement of employment and this is normally carried out at interview. Details will be provided in any letter of invitation to interview.

For further information on right to work please visit our right to work website

In the circumstances where the vacancy does not meet the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) criteria for sponsorship the successful applicant must have the existing right to work in the UK or individual circumstances which enable permission to work to be obtained.

For further information about whether you require a visa and other visa routes please visit the GOV.UK website

  • If you are an academic, researcher or technical specialist in the field of sciences; humanities; engineering; medicine; digital technology; or the arts, it may be possible for you to apply for a Global Talent visa. This route requires you to apply to be endorsed as an internationally recognised leader or emerging leader in your particular field by an endorsing body (Arts Council England, British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering, Royal Society, Tech Nation, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)). However, if you are applying for a senior academic role, e.g. Professor/Reader there is an accelerated route to endorsement. Further information can be found on the UKVI website
  • Conditions of Employment
    Pension Scheme
    This role is grade UE06 and therefore the post holder is automatically included in membership of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), subject to the USS membership criteria, unless they indicate that they choose not to join the Scheme.

    For further information please visit our Pensions website.

    The role is grade UE06 and attracts an annual salary of £28,331 to £32,816 for 35 hours each week. Salary is paid monthly by direct transfer to your Bank or Building Society account, normally on the 28th of the month. Salaries for part-time staff are calculated on the full-time scales, pro-rata to the Standard Working Week.

    The University reserves the right to vary the candidate information or make no appointment at all. Neither in part, nor in whole does this information form part of any contract between the University and any individual.

The Institute of Structural & Molecular Biology
ISMB studies the structural nature and impact of biomolecules from details of their atomic structure, through their assembly into larger scale molecular machines on up to studying the large scale effects of these molecular assemblies. ISMB contains groups investigating molecular structure using techniques such as biomolecular nuclear magnetic resonance, X-ray crystallography and computational structure prediction, as well as the full panoply of methods for protein production and biological characterisation. Facilities include high through-put DNA sequencing, protein production and purification, biophysical and kinetic analysis of proteins, in silico screening for drug leads, proteomics, optical and electron microscopy.

This diverse structural information is often combined with various other physical methods to comprehensively characterise biomolecules of interest to the pharmaceutical and food industries. The range of molecules studied is large, ranging from cell cycle control, cytoskeletal construction, electron transfer, control/implementation of biosynthetic pathways, molecules implicated in the import, export and persistence of bacterial cells within host cells. ISMB has close collaborative research links with the School’s Institute of Cell Biology, with SynthSys (synthetic and systems biology ( and with colleagues in the College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine, amongst other groupings. With links to the Centre for Science at Extreme Conditions (CSEC ( we are also interested in the mechanisms by which biomolecules survive in conditions that would normally lead to their destruction.

School of Biological Sciences
As the modern inheritors of our 400-year-old reputation for excellence, our staff and students contribute to a vibrant academic community whose visions are shaping tomorrow’s world.

The School of Biological Sciences is at the leading edge in teaching, research and innovation. Independent rankings such as the Times Higher Education consistently place us amongst the top 25 universities in the world for biological sciences.

Teaching and learning: Our undergraduate students can study a wide range of topics, providing a strong grounding in fundamental biology with the flexibility to gain experience of the most recent research developments in biological and biomedical science in the later years of their degree programme. More than 300 students per year are admitted to our taught programmes, which are managed and supported by the Biology Teaching Organisation.

Undergraduate programmes

Masters programmes

Research: Our students are taught by some of the world’s leading scientists. We are one of the top biology departments in the UK for the quality and impact of our research. More than half of our research activity was rated as ‘world-leading’ in quality and scope in the 2014 UK national research assessment, placing us second in the UK amongst university teaching departments. The success of our research is testament to the excellence of our people: some 130 academic teaching staff and independently-funded research fellows, and the 400 research assistants and technicians and more than 200 PhD students who work with these Principal Investigators. The Graduate School of Biological Sciences provides overarching training and support for our PhD students.

Our research is wide-ranging in scope and is structured around themes which build links from fundamental science to research that addresses global problems. We are investing in growth and expanding our facilities to accommodate new research directions. Our aim is to create innovation and impact from our research by integrating expertise across our research themes to generate transformational new knowledge.

Research Themes, Institutes and cross-disciplinary Centres

The School is a member of SULSA, the Scottish Universities Life Science Alliance.

Professional services: The School’s academic success is supported by a large professional services team who deliver administrative, IT and technical services.

Working in the School: We aim to ensure that our culture and systems support flexible and family-friendly working and to recognise and value diversity across all our staff and students. The School has an active programme offering support and professional development opportunities for all staff. We place a particular focus on development for early-career researchers (postgraduate and postdoctoral research staff and personal fellowship holders), offering mentoring and an active ‘BioDocSoc’ organisation that brings together researchers for networking, events and training opportunities.

The School of Biological Sciences holds a Silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of our commitment to advance the representation of women in science, mathematics, engineering and technology.

Our website contains more information about the School.

College of Science and Engineering (
The College of Science and Engineering (CSE) is one of the largest and highest-ranked science and engineering groupings in the UK. Headed by Professor David Robertson, CSE comprises seven Schools (Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Engineering, GeoSciences, Informatics, Mathematics, and Physics and Astronomy) as well as a national supercomputing centre (the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre) and the Bayes Centre for interdisciplinary data science and innovation. We extend beyond the University through many joint activities - for example we host the cross-Scotland DataLab innovation Centre, we are a founding partner in the Scottish Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre, and we are a partner in UK-wide collaborations including the Alan Turing Institute and the Rosalind Franklin Institute. Most Schools are located 2 miles south of the city centre at the King’s Buildings whilst Informatics, EPCC and Bayes are located in the University’s Central Area near George Square. The College has over 3,000 academic and support staff, and educates some 6,000 undergraduates, over 1000 taught postgraduates and more than 2,000 research students. It is in the front rank of UK university science and engineering groupings for research quality and income, and is a key player in many European and international research consortia.

Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014

In the 2014 REF over 95% of our staff were submitted. Of our seven submissions, four of which were as a joint research school in combination with a strategic research university partner through pooling, 3 were ranked top in the UK and all 7 were in the top 5 in their discipline in the Times Higher Power rankings.

The University of Edinburgh
For more than four centuries, our people and their achievements have rewritten history time and again. They’ve explored space, revolutionised surgery, published era-defining books, paved the way for life-saving medical breakthroughs and introduced to the world many inventions, discoveries and ideas from penicillin to Dolly the sheep. We have believed that anything is possible, we still do.
The latest Research Excellence Framework highlighted our place at the forefront of international research. This adds to our international reputation for the quality of our teaching and our student experience excellence. The University is proud of its success with online teaching initiatives, with 2550 students currently studying its online distance learning postgraduate programmes, and a total to date of more than 2 million enrolments for Edinburgh MOOCs.

As a member of staff, you will be part of one of the world's leading universities, with 20 Schools spread over 3 Colleges that offer more than 1600 undergraduate and 600 postgraduate programmes to over 41,000 students each year. Professional services are critical to this success as well as our world-class teaching, research and student facilities. In fact, we are one of the top employers in Edinburgh, with over 14,500 people spread across a wide range of academic and supporting roles.

As a world-changing, world-leading university, we offer an exciting, positive, creative, challenging and rewarding place to work. We give you support, nurture your talent, develop and reward success and integrate academic, professional and personal career goals, as well as give your career the benefit of a great and distinguished reputation. In addition, our employees benefit from a competitive reward package and a wide range of staff benefits, which include generous holiday entitlement, a defined benefits pension scheme, staff discounts and much more. Access our staff benefits page for further information and use our reward calculator to find out the total value of pay and benefits provided.

The University of Edinburgh holds a Silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of our commitment to advance gender equality in higher education. We are members of the Race Equality Charter and we are also Stonewall Scotland Diversity Champions, actively promoting LGBT equality. The University has a range of initiatives to support a family friendly working environment, including flexible working and childcare vouchers. See our University Initiatives website for further information.

University Family Friendly Initiatives

Equality Networks:

Staff Pride Network for LGBT+ colleagues and allies
Disabled Staff Network

The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in Scotland, with registration number SC005336.

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