Research Assistant in Molecular Cell & Systems Biology
University of Glasgow, Department in Molecular Cell & Systems Biology
United States

Job Purpose

The post-holder will contribute to a research project to determine the role of retrograde signalling in circadian timing, working with Dr Matt Jones. Specifically, the job requires expert knowledge in metabolite assays, circadian imaging, and RNAseq analysis. There is funding available for 3 years.

The post-holder will also be expected to contribute to the formulation and submission of research publications and research proposals as well as help manage and direct this complex and challenging project, as opportunities allow.

Main Duties and Responsibilities

Perform the following activities in conjunction with and under the guidance of the Principal Investigator (PI):

1. Assist and contribute to predetermined, prescribed or individual/joint research objectives, under supervision of the PI and in accordance with the project deliverables and Plant Science Group research strategy. 

2. Undertake analyses of metabolite accumulation, RNAseq data, and bioimaging data and undertake literature reviews (as appropriate to the role).

3. Design, set up and perform experiments, maintain experimental resources, analyse and interpret results and contribute to the development of experimental strategies.

4. Contribute to the organisation, supervision, mentoring and training of undergraduate and/or postgraduate students and less experienced members of the project team to ensure their effective development.

5. Develop and enhance your research profile and reputation and that of the University of Glasgow, Institute of Molecular Cellular and Systems Biology, including contributing to publications of international quality in high profile/quality refereed journals, enhancing the research impact in terms of economic/societal benefit and gathering indicators of esteem.

6. Document research output including analysis and interpretation of all data, maintaining records and databases, drafting technical/progress reports and papers as appropriate.

7. Contribute to the presentation of work at international and national conferences, at internal and external seminars, colloquia and workshops to develop and enhance our research profile.

8. Contribute to the identification of potential funding sources and assist in the development of proposals to secure funding from internal and external bodies to support future research.

9. Collaborate with colleagues and participate in team/group meetings/seminars/workshops across the research group and wider community (e.g. academic and industrial partners).

10. Perform administrative tasks related to the activities of the research group and Institute, including budget and expenditure monitoring, and stock control.

11. Contribute to outreach and recruitment activities of the University of Glasgow.

12. Carry out modest teaching activities (e.g. demonstrating etc) and associated administration as assigned by the Director of Institute and in consultation with PI.

13. Be responsible for safety management related to the organisation and running of laboratory and/or experimental techniques, equipment and processes as appropriate.

14. Keep up to date with current knowledge and recent advances in the field/discipline.

15. Engage in personal, professional and career development to enhance both specialist and transferable skills in accordance with desired career trajectory.

16. Undertake any other duties of equivalent standing as assigned by the Director of Institute and/or PI.

17. To contribute to the enhancement of the University’s international profile in line with the University’s Strategic Plan - Inspiring People – Changing the World.

These key tasks are not intended to be exhaustive but simply highlight a number of major tasks which the staff member may reasonably be expected to perform.

Knowledge, Qualifications, Skills and Experience


A1. Scottish Credit and Qualification Framework level 10 (Honours Degree) in Molecular Biology or equivalent. May be working towards post-graduate qualification such as Masters (SCQF level 11) or PhD (SCQF level 12) in Molecular Biology or equivalent, and experience of personal development in similar role.
A2. Theoretical and practical knowledge in a research related field.
A3. A comprehensive and up-to-date knowledge of the wider subject area or subject specialism.
B1. Working towards or completed PhD (SCQF level 12) in Molecular Biology or related field. 


C1. Ability to analyse and interpret research findings and results 
C2. Research creativity and cross-discipline collaborative ability as appropriate.
C3. Excellent interpersonal skills including team working and a collegiate approach.
C4. Excellent communication skills (oral and written), including public presentations and ability to communicate complex data/concepts clearly and concisely.
C5. Appropriate workload/time/project/budget/people management skills.
C6. Extensive IT and data analysis/interpretation skills as appropriate.
C7. Self motivation, initiative and independent thought/working.
C8. Initiative and judgement to resolve problems independently, including demonstrating a flexible and pragmatic approach.

D1. Ability to contribute to developing new techniques and methods.
D2. Willingness to work outside of normal working hours when necessary.


E1. Sufficient breadth and/or depth of knowledge in the specialist subject/discipline and of research/teaching methods and techniques, demonstrated through relevant work experience (including experience gained throughout PhD).
E2. Experience in the collection and analysis of data.
E3. Experience of scientific writing.
E4. Proven ability to deliver quality outputs in a timely and efficient manner.
E5. Evidence of an emerging track record of publications in a relevant field.
E6. Experience of metabolite analyses.
E7. Experience with standard molecular biology techniques (qRT-PCR, Immunoblots, cloning etc).

F1. Experience performing and analysing abiotic stress experiments in Arabidopsis and crop species.
F2. Experience of high throughput sequencing and library preparation (Illumina RNAseq).

Job Features

Planning and Organising
Management of time and prioritisation of research, teaching and administrative duties.
Planning, organisation and implementation of research project on a weekly/monthly basis.
Plan research directions that are within the available budget.
React to varying project needs and deadlines.

Decision Making
Undertake decision making on all aspects of research project/activities.
Prioritise own workload and where appropriate delegate to junior team members.
Decide on research directions and goals within remit of original project proposal.
Adjust research approaches to meet project outcomes.
Identify best journals for publication and meetings/conferences to attend.
Purchase of equipment and materials.

Internal/External Relationships
University colleagues: to exchange information to ensure efficient working and to facilitate cross disciplinary working.
External bodies/collaborators: proactively maintain co-operation and links at all levels to enhance profile and reputation.
Dissemination: Preparation and presentation of reports/results and participation in meetings and conference calls.

Problem Solving
Research including technical and theoretical aspects/problem solving and development of novel ideas.
Be aware of project and budgetary issues and equipment lead times.
Assistance of undergraduate/postgraduate students and junior team members with problems relating to research project.

Representation of the University/College/Institute through presentation at national and international events.
Attendance at training events to learn and implement new research technologies.
Prepared to travel to meetings in the UK/Europe and elsewhere as required by the University.

Additional Information
Drought confers a multifaceted stress upon plants, but one of the first metabolic consequences is the perturbation of photosynthesis, leading to increased accumulation of ROS and the subsequent development of redox stress within the chloroplast. These perturbations are communicated from organelles to the nucleus via multiple retrograde signaling pathways that alter nuclear gene expression, allowing plants to adjust their metabolism in response to changes in their environment. 3'-PhosphoAdenosine 5'-Phosphate (PAP) is one such redox stress-induced metabolite that accumulates in response to drought and osmotic stress. The accumulation of PAP inhibits the activity of exoribonucleases (XRNs), leading to altered gene expression and increased transcript stability. The PAP/XRN pathway is therefore able to induce changes in nuclear transcript stability in response to redox stress in the chloroplast. 

The circadian system induces rhythmic expression of approximately one third of a plant’s genome but we do not have a precise understanding of how changes in metabolism (such as those induced by stress) alter the pace of the endogenous biological timer. The successful applicant will investigate the complex interplay between environmental signals, endogenous biological timers, and metabolic changes induced by osmotic stress (such as PAP). We will use a combination of metabolomics, high throughput sequencing (RNAseq), and circadian imaging to test our hypotheses.

The Jones lab is part of the Plant Science Group at the University of Glasgow. The demands of a growing world population for food and fuel are putting greater pressure on the need for higher yielding crop varieties that do not rely on a high input and demand of chemicals or water. The Plant Science Group is taking a whole organism approach to identify key genes and processes that determine productivity in plants in constantly changing environmental conditions.

Standard Terms & Conditions

Salary will be on the University’s Research and Teaching Grade, level 6, £28,660 - £32,236 per annum.

This post has funding for up to 36 months.

New entrants to the University will be required to serve a probationary period of 6 months.

The successful applicant will be eligible to join the Universities' Superannuation Scheme. Further information regarding the scheme is available from the Superannuation Officer, who is also prepared to advise on questions relating to the transfer of Superannuation benefits.

All research and related activities, including grants, donations, clinical trials, contract research, consultancy and commercialisation are required to be managed through the University’s relevant processes (e.g. contractual and financial), in accordance with the University Court’s policies.

It is the University of Glasgow’s mission to foster an inclusive climate, which ensures equality in our working, learning, research and teaching environment.

We strongly endorse the principles of Athena SWAN, including a supportive and flexible working environment, with commitment from all levels of the organisation in promoting gender equality.

The University of Glasgow, charity number SC004401.

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