Postdoctoral Research Associate in Plant Molecular Biology

Durham, United Kingdom
£33,797 - £40,322 per annum
26 Apr 2021
End of advertisement period
22 May 2021
Academic Discipline
Life sciences, Biological Sciences
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Department of Biosciences

Grade 7: - £33,797 - £40,322 per annum
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contract Duration: 2 years
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date: 
22-May-2021, 6:59:00 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 breath-taking 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 successful candidate will join the Sadanandom group, which is embedded within Molecular Plant Sciences research group, a recognised research strength at Durham. The group interacts closely with members of Durham Centre for Crop Improvement Technology (DCCIT) (https://www.durham.ac.uk/research/institutes-and-centres/durham-centre-crop-improvement-technology/)

The Role

Applications are invited for a PostDoctoral Research Associate (PDRA) in Plant molecular Biology with a particular emphasis on Protein Modification systems. The research project aims to understand how an emerging protein modification, SUMOylation can be exploited to boost resistance against multiple environmental stresses. The PDRA must be experienced in plant biochemistry, in particular in proteomic methods for peptide and protein analysis including detection of protein post-translational modifications. 

The successful applicant will be expected to use state of the art proteomics to identify SUMOylated target proteins in Arabidopsis during drought and salt stresses. The PDRA will validate these targets as controllers of drought and salt resistance mechanisms in Arabidopsis.


  • 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 research colleagues 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.

This post is fixed term for 2 years.

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 May 2021

How to Apply

For informal enquiries please contact Professor 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 consist of an interview. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview and assessment in due course.

Person specification - skills, knowledge, qualifications and experience required



  • A good first degree in molecular biology
  • A PhD (or be close to submission) in Plant Molecular Biology or a related subject.


  • Experience in conducting high quality academic research.
  • Demonstrable ability to write material of a quality commensurate with publication in highly-ranked journals.
  • Demonstrable ability to present research papers at national and/or international conferences and communicate complex information to specialists and within the wider academic community.
  • Experience in Purification of intact multi-subunit protein complexes using immuno and affinity chromatography techniques, and native gel technologies. 
  • Experience in Protein purification using a range of chromatography techniques, including ion exchange, chromato-focussing, gel filtration and affinity chromatography on different chromatography platforms.
  • Experience in Analysis of hormone pathways in particular skills in metabolomics such as GC-MS.
  • Experience in Use of antibodies in Western blot analysis using both enzymatic secondary antibodies.
  • Experience in Experience in studying post-translational modifications of proteins.
  • Experience in Gateway cloning and Quantitative real time PCR.
  • Experience of working independently & good communication skills.


  • Demonstrable ability to work cooperatively as part of a team, including participating in research meetings.
  • Ability to work independently on own initiative and to strict deadlines.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.



  • Strong publication record in peer-reviewed journals, commensurate with stage of career.
  • A track record of presenting research at conferences, symposia, or meetings, commensurate with stage of career.
  • Demonstrable ability to develop research proposals and designs in collaboration with other academics.
  • Experience of overseeing students with respect to the development of their practical/research skills e.g. acting as a demonstrator; supervising student projects/practicals.
  • Experience in Yeast two hybrid assays.
  • Experience in Purification of intact protein complexes from plants.
  • Experience in Site directed mutagenesis.
  • Experience in Chromatin immunoprecipitation.
  • Experience in Plant cultivation.


  • Demonstrable ability to plan and manage independent research.
  • Broad knowledge of plant stress responses.
  • Bioinformatic analysis of protein sequences.
  • Broad knowledge of transcriptional regulation.

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.