Research Associate in Bioengineering
Imperial College London Department of Bioengineering
United Kingdom

Job summary

Plants are highly regenerative compared to animals. However, not all species regenerate as readily, and regenerative competence can very even among close relatives. Why is regeneration highly and reversibly evolvable? What molecular mechanisms underlie regenerative capacity in plants and how are they targeted in evolution? To answer these questions, a postdoctoral research associate will lead a programme of research to dissect the molecular...

Job listing information

  • Reference ENG01802
  • Date posted 27 July 2021
  • Closing date 24 October 2021

Key information about the role

  • Location South Kensington Campus (map)
  • Position type Full time, fixed term
  • Salary £40,858 – £48,340 plus benefits
  • Department Department of Bioengineering
  • Category Researcher / Non Clinical Researcher

Job description

Job summary

Plants are highly regenerative compared to animals. However, not all species regenerate as readily, and regenerative competence can very even among close relatives. Why is regeneration highly and reversibly evolvable?

What molecular mechanisms underlie regenerative capacity in plants and how are they targeted in evolution? To answer these questions, a postdoctoral research associate will lead a programme of research to dissect the molecular mechanisms regulating regenerative competence and their evolution.

Duties and responsibilities

This project focuses on the family of plants that contains well studied model species, as well as crop species – Brassicaceae (the mustard family), to facilitate genome-wide expression profiling and synthetic biological pathway engineering.

Discoveries from this project will lead to promising candidate genes to modulate in order to control regenerative competence in a wide range of plant species.

You will be leading lab-based experimental research to investigate molecular regulators underpinning plant regeneration. The position is funded by the Leverhulme Trust and aims to identify and validate key genes regulating regenerative capacity via a comparative/evolutionary-developmental approach.

Focusing on the mustard family (Brassicaceae), the changes in the molecular pathways responsible for their recent diversification in regenerative competence will be uncovered using whole genome gene expression profiling. Once identified, likely key factors determining the regenerative capacity will be recreated using synthetic biological molecular pathway engineering, turning a low competence species to highly regenerative.

You will join the Biological Form and Function Lab, which is currently comprised of Dr Naomi Nakayama (PI), one postdoctoral research fellow, three PhD students, and several master-level students, and based in the Department of Bioengineering, Imperial College London.

We are a very interdisciplinary group of scientists and engineers studying problem solving in biological systems, largely from the structural/biomechanical perspectives. We apply the gained knowledge to find solutions in our own living environment from biomimetic engineering, engineered living materials, to sustainable agriculture.

In so doing, we take multiple lines of engineering approaches – static and fluid mechanics and synthetic biology. For more information, visit the lab website: www.bfflab.org.

Lead a research programme to dissect the molecular underpinning of the diversification in regenerative competence within the family Brassicaceae; more specifically:

  • Characterize Brassicaceae plants for their regenerative efficiency in near natural conditions
  • Study gene expression profiles using next-generation sequencing technology (in collaboration with the expert technical support from the collaborator group)
  • Reverse engineer the candidate evolutionary changes in regenerative pathways employing synthetic biology technology

Note that these activities span over 3 years, and that you will collaborate with or co-supervise other researchers in the lab and beyond to enrich the efforts made towards the goals of the project.

You will have the opportunity to supervise MEng/MSc students and to be officially involved in the supervision of PhD candidates through Imperial’s “Assistant supervisor” scheme.

Where desired, experiences in other teaching roles, including lecturing, will be enabled as part of the broad range of career development opportunities available for postdoctoral researchers at Imperial College.

There will be opportunities to visit laboratories across the world for collaborative work, especially the Plant Ecological and Evolutionary Biology Lab at Kyoto Sangyo University, Japan, which is led by Professor Seisuke Kimura.

Essential requirements

We seek a considerate, open-minded, and self-driven candidate with a PhD (or equivalent) in molecular plant science, plant developmental biology, comparative plant biology, or a related field, and who has a keen interest in synthetic biology-based engineering.

Candidates with a background in developmental biology or synthetic biology with non-plant species are encouraged to apply, but need to be willing to develop a solid grasp of plant science.

The ideal candidate will have experience in working with plants, genetic engineering, and microscopy. Experience in RNAseq analysis and tissue culture is helpful but not essential.

Candidates need to be able to grow and conduct experiments with multiple species of plants. They should possess excellent organisational skills, ability to work independently as well as in a collaborative team, and strong written and oral communication skills.

They will be engaging, supportive, and motivating in all interactions with colleagues across the Department, and provide mentorship where appropriate. They have to be keenly interested in being part of a highly interdisciplinary research group, as well as the departmental community in which diverse lines of bioengineering research and innovation are ongoing actively and dynamically.

As this project is an international collaboration, we are seeking scientists with global mindsets.

Further information

This is a fixed term position for 24 months initially (subject to probation), with the possibility to extend for another 12 months (to a total of 3 years). Candidates who have not yet been officially awarded their PhD will be appointed as Research Assistant within the salary range £36,045 - £39,183 per annum.

**We reserve the right to close the advert prior to the closing date stated should we received a high number of applications. It is therefore advisable that you submit your application as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

Please note: The panel will start reviewing applications after 10th August 2021.

Informal queries relating to the position should be directed to Dr Naomi Nakayama at n.nakayama@imperial.ac.uk.

Our preferred method of application is via our website. Please click “APPLY NOW” to go through to the online application form.

Should you have any queries regarding the application process please contact: Jo Adam -  i.adam@imperial.ac.uk

The Department of Bioengineering leads the bioengineering agenda both nationally and internationally, with its staff coming from diverse academic disciplines, including all main branches of engineering, physical sciences, life sciences and medicine, to create a rich collaborative environment. More information about staff benefits, including generous annual leave entitlements and excellent professional development opportunities, can be found here: http://www.imperial.ac.uk/job-applicants/staff-benefits/

The College is a proud signatory to the San-Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), which means that in hiring and promotion decisions, we evaluate applicants on the quality of their work, not the journal impact factor where it is published. For more information, see https://www.imperial.ac.uk/research-and-innovation/about-imperial-research/research-evaluation/

The College believes that the use of animals in research is vital to improve human and animal health and welfare. Animals may only be used in research programmes where their use is shown to be necessary for developing new treatments and making medical advances. Imperial is committed to ensuring that, in cases where this research is deemed essential, all animals in the College’s care are treated with full respect, and that all staff involved with this work show due consideration at every level. http://www.imperial.ac.uk/research-and-innovation/about-imperial-research/research-integrity/animal-research/


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