Postdoctoral Research Associate in Plant Molecular Biology

Durham, United Kingdom
£33,797 - £40,322
Tuesday, 20 October 2020
End of advertisement period
Thursday, 19 November 2020
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Department of Biosciences

Grade 7: - £33,797 - £40,322
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date: 19-Nov-2020, 7:59:00 AM 

Durham University

Durham University is one of the world's top universities with strengths across the Arts and Humanities, Sciences and Social Sciences. We are home to some of the most talented scholars and researchers from around the world who are tackling global issues and making a difference to people's lives.

The University sits in a beautiful historic city where it shares ownership of a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Durham Cathedral, the greatest Romanesque building in Western Europe. A collegiate University, Durham recruits outstanding students from across the world and offers an unmatched wider student experience.

Less than 3 hours north of London, and an hour and a half south of Edinburgh, County Durham is a region steeped in history and natural beauty. The Durham Dales, including the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, are home to breathtaking scenery and attractions. Durham offers an excellent choice of city, suburban and rural residential locations. The University provides a range of benefits including pension and childcare benefits and the University’s Relocation Manager can assist with potential schooling requirements.

Durham University seeks to promote and maintain an inclusive and supportive environment for work and study that assists all members of our University community to reach their full potential. Diversity brings strength and we welcome applications from across the international, national and regional communities that we work with and serve.

The Department

Biosciences is one of the very best departments in the UK with an outstanding reputation for excellence in teaching, research and employability of our students. Ranked Top 10 for impact in REF2014, the department provides a dynamic and interdisciplinary research environment. 

The Role

Applications are invited for a full-time Postdoctoral Research Associate to work on a project entitled "Understanding how insect rearing residues as biofertilisers stimulate plant growth and defence”. This post is fixed term until the 30th June 2023. 

You will be working with Professor Ari Sadanandom and Dr. Elaine Fitches

At scale, the bioconversion of food and agricultural “wastes” by insects, such as Black soldier fly larvae (BSFL), yields high quality products for animal feed offering potential to reduce our heavy reliance upon protein imports to supply the UK aquaculture, poultry and pig industries. The rearing process captures nutrients in the form of insect biomass and can substantially reduce volumes of low value wastes in line with a circular economy approach. Residues, also known as frass, remaining after harvesting BSFL have considerable potential as commercial biofertilisers as they are rich in micro-organisms, micro- and macro-nutrients, and insect chitin and are thus able to exert positive effects on soil health and crop yields. The project aims to understand how insect frass derived biofertlisers stimulate plant growth and defence. The RA will identify the molecular mechanisms that underpin these effects in the plant species. A background in the study of plant stress signalling and gene editing is desirable. Evidence of technical competence in purifying large intact protein complexes will be required. The successful candidate must have good communication skills and a publication record in protein purification. 

Responsibilities :

  • To understand and convey material of a specialist or highly technical nature to the team or group of people through presentations and discussions that leads to the presentation of research papers in conferences and publications.
  • To prepare and deliver presentations on research outputs/activities to audiences which may include: research sponsors, academic and non-academic audiences.
  • To publish high quality outputs, including papers for submission to peer reviewed journals and papers for presentation at conferences and workshops under the direction of the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder.
  • To assist with the development of research objectives and proposals.
  • To conduct individual and collaborative research projects under the direction of the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder.
  • To work with the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder and other colleagues in the research group, as appropriate, to identify areas for research, develop new research methods and extend the research portfolio.
  • To deal with problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines by discussing with the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder and offering creative or innovative solutions.
  • To liaise with proteomics specialists and make internal and external contacts to develop knowledge and understanding to form relationships for future research collaboration.
  • To plan and manage own research activity, research resources in collaboration with others and contribute to the planning of research projects.
  • To deliver training in research techniques/approaches to peers, visitors and students as appropriate.
  • To be involved in student supervision, as appropriate, and assist with the assessment of the knowledge of students.
  • To contribute to fostering a collegial and respectful working environment which is inclusive and welcoming and where everyone is treated fairly with dignity and respect.
  • To engage in wider citizenship to support the department and wider discipline.
  • To engage in continuing professional development by participation in the undergraduate or postgraduate teaching programmes or by membership of departmental committees, etc. and by attending relevant training and development courses.  
  • The successful applicant will also be given the opportunity to contribute to teaching courses, for example contributing to the support of undergraduate project students, particularly with regard to research methods and the use of equipment. 
  • Within reason, the successful applicant will also be expected to carry out tasks commensurate with the Grade of appointment, as requested by their Line Manager in order to facilitate the core responsibilities outlined in the job description.

This post is fixed term for a period of 30 months as it is part of a large consortia that has dedicated UKRI funds to conduct a 33 month project entitled “The Insectrial Revolution” which commenced on the 1st September 2020. 

The post-holder is employed to work on research/a research project which will be led by another colleague. Whilst this means that the post-holder will not be carrying out independent research in his/her own right, the expectation is that they will contribute to the advancement of the project, through the development of their own research ideas/adaptation and development of research protocols.

Successful applicants will, ideally, be in post by 1st January 2021

How to Apply

For informal enquiries please contact Prof. Ari Sadanandom (ari.sadanandom@durham.ac.uk). All enquiries will be treated in the strictest confidence.  

We prefer to receive applications online via the Durham University Vacancies Site. https://www.dur.ac.uk/jobs/. As part of the application process, you should provide details of 3 (preferably academic/research) referees and the details of your current line manager so that we may seek an employment reference.

Applications are particularly welcome from women and black and minority ethnic candidates, who are under-represented in academic posts in the University .

What to Submit

All applicants are asked to submit:

  • A CV and covering letter which details your experience, strengths and potential in the requirements set out above;

Next Steps

The assessment for the post will include a presentation and an interview. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview and assessment

The Requirements



  • PhD in Biochemistry or Plant Molecular Biology

Experience & Skills

  • Experience in metabolomics or proteomics sample preparation using gel based and multi-dimensional chromatography techniques.
  • Purification of intact multi-subunit protein complexes using immuno and affinity chromatography techniques, and native gel technologies. 
  • Preparation of sub-cellular fractions from E. coli and plant samples for biochemical analysis.
  • Protein purification using a range of chromatography  techniques, including ion exchange, chromato-focussing, gel filtration and affinity chromatography on different chromatography platforms. 
  • Analysis of hormone pathways in particular skills in metabolomics such as GC-MS
  • Yeast 2- hydrid techniques
  • Use of antibodies in Western blot analysis using both enzymatic secondary antibodies.
  • Experience in studying post-translational modifications of proteins
  • Gateway cloning and Quantitative real time PCR
  • Working independently & good communication skills
  • Proven ability to author or co-author research results in national and international journals 



  • Postdoctoral experience in protein purification
  • Yeast two hybrid assays 
  • Purification of intact protein complexes from plants
  • Site directed mutagenesis
  • Chromatin immunoprecipitation
  • Plant cultivation
  • Broad knowledge of plant stress responses
  • Bioinformatic analysis of protein sequences
  • Broad knowledge of transcriptional regulation

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.

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