Advanced Technician

Durham, United Kingdom
£22,417 - £25,941 per annum
26 Jul 2021
End of advertisement period
21 Aug 2021
Academic Discipline
Life sciences, Biological Sciences
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Department of Biosciences

Grade 5: - £22,417 - £25,941 per annum
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contract Duration: 6 months
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date: 21-Aug-2021, 6:59:00 AM 

Job Family: Technical, Research and Teaching Services

OUR CHARACTERISTICS: We are a globally outstanding centre of teaching and research excellence, a collegiate community of extraordinary people, in a unique and historic setting.    

OUR VALUES: We are inspiring, challenging, innovative, responsible and enabling.

Durham University

Durham University is one of the world's top universities with strengths across the Arts and Humanities, Business , 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.

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.

It is expected that all staff within the University:

  • Contribute to our learning culture by engaging in mentoring, training and coaching.
  • Positively contribute to fostering a collegial environment; as well as demonstrating commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.
  • Have due regard to Health and Safety requirements appropriate to grade and role.

Family key attributes

Roles in this family provide creative and analytical input to facilitate the delivery of world-class teaching, learning and research activities.

Overall family purpose

  • Support stakeholders to ensure the delivery of research, teaching and scholarly activities.
  • Align and tailor services to meet strategic and operational research, teaching and learning objectives.
  • Prepare and set-up equipment, apparatus and resources to ensure the successful delivery of scheduled academic activities.
  • Monitor, manage and maintain teaching, learning or research facilities, workshops, laboratories and experimental environments to ensure compliance with internal and external regulations.
  • Contribute guidance, advice and/or professional expertise to increase intellectual and creative capacity for world-class teaching and research outputs.
  • Actively participate with peers and specialists internally and externally to expand knowledge and practice.
  • Design and construct equipment, environments, tools, techniques and methodologies to meet research and learning objectives.
  • Adapt and develop equipment, techniques and methodologies to meet research and learning outputs and timescales.
  • Engage and network with internal and external specialists and experts to facilitate knowledge exchange and enhance research, teaching and learning activities.
  • Work collaboratively and network across the University with staff in other families to ensure a smooth, timely and high-quality delivery of service.

Link to key strategic plan

  • An economically sustainable approach to delivering technical and experimental support services across the University;
  • Support and facilitate world-leading research across all academic departments;
  • Support and facilitate research that has a positive impact on global, national and regional challenges and which benefits culture, society, health, the economy and the physical environment;
  • Support and facilitate a rewarding research environment and an exceptional research-led learning experience;
  • Support and facilitate programmes that offer intellectual challenge, cohesiveness and a strong sense of progression;
  • A stakeholder-focused orientation, offering satisfying careers to all staff;
  • Ensure that an increasingly diverse workforce is treated equally, fairly and with respect, and that all staff are demonstrably valued and actively engaged.

The Department and role purpose    

The Department of Biosciences is composed of 51 academic staff and research fellows; around 50 research and technical support staff; over 90 Research Postgraduate students and over 500 Single Honours undergraduate students, and also teaches students from the Natural Sciences programme. The Department is committed to an ethos of research-led teaching at both BSc and MBiol levels, and was ranked 5th in the UK for Biological Sciences Departments in the Complete University Guide 2018.

The Dept. of Biosciences was also ranked in the top ten UK Biology Departments for research impact in the REF2014. Our basic science underpins applications across each-and-every sector of the bio-economy, including Biotechnology, Ecology and Agritechnology. Research programmes are grouped in the following areas: Molecular Plant Sciences; Biomolecular Interactions; Ecology, Evolution and Environment; and Animal Cells and Systems. These groups organise focused seminar series, Research Away Days, manage joint research facilities, oversee mentoring, internal peer review and serve to nucleate larger research projects. Along with our excellent research facilities such as bioimaging, proteomics, metabolomics and genomics we offer a high quality and supportive environment for our research staff.

The Dept. of Biosciences partners with other areas of research strength in Durham University including Computational Sciences and Chemistry, and encourages multidisciplinary research for Health and Wellbeing. Durham University was listed in the Times Higher World Top 50 Life Science Challengers (July 2017).

The Department holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award. Athena SWAN is a national initiative that recognises the advancement of gender equality, representation and progression. The Department embraces excellence in all of its forms and invites all qualified applicants to apply. We particularly welcome applications from women and black and minority ethnic candidates who are under-represented in the academic sector.

The purpose of this role is to support research towards understanding the trade-offs and synergies between agriculture and biodiversity in Africa, as part of the larger Global Challenges Research Fund Sentinel project (https://www.sentinel-gcrf.org/). We are investigating ecosystem services (e.g. pest control) that birds and bats may provide to farmers in Zambia and Ghana, and how farmers may encourage these natural benefits through land management and conservation practices. The person selected for this role will provide technical laboratory expertise towards metabarcoding bird and bat samples by preparing solutions, performing DNA extraction, PCR, agarose gel electrophoresis, PCR product clean-up, and preparation of Illumina sequencing libraries. The postholder will maintain detailed databases and a laboratory notebook. She or he will also contribute towards the diverse and friendly lab culture by acting as a good lab member, maintaining covid-secure working standards (e.g. social distancing, working according to the lab rotor) as necessary, attending mandatory biweekly lab meetings, and also attending seminars in the Ecology, Evolution, and the Environment (EEE) seminar series as desired. The EEE section of the Biosciences department conducts world-leading research on everything from molecules to ecosystems and will provide an engaging and invigorating environment.

Core responsibilities:

  • Act as more knowledgeable team member without responsibility for team members.
  • Plan and organise own workload with or without involvement with project work streams.
  • Resolve queries and requests for information and advice and escalate more specialist and complex queries or issues to more experienced team members.
  • Respond to stakeholder needs to deliver and shape an excellent stakeholder experience.
  • Apply theory and practice, from academic and professional development and previous knowledge within a service team.
  • Contribute to collaborative decision making within the team with service provision to deliver an excellent stakeholder experience in accordance with policy and procedures. 
  • Work collaboratively across the organisation and/or externally with colleagues and stakeholders to deliver a service.
  • Provide guidance and advice to resolve problems and queries for a broad range of service users.
  • Collaborate with team members to implement service alterations.
  • Organise and schedule resources, activities and events.
  • Identify priorities and monitor processes and activities to ensure success.
  • Provide more in-depth independent research and analysis activities within the role.
  • Analyse work activities to ensure the effective and efficient use of capital and consumable equipment and resources.
  • Provide demonstrations and instruction to others outside the team.
  • Support the capture of business requirements from users and work with colleagues to translate these into recommendations for future service provision.
  • Liaise with contacts and participate in networks and communities internally and possibly externally, contributing to effective collaborative working.
  • Advise others and make recommendations into work processes and procedures for consideration by senior management to improve services.

Role responsibilities:

  • Deliver professional technical and experimental services to support teaching, outreach, research and learning activities to meet sector and professional body standards.
  • Ensure the smooth running of a teaching or research facility and/or a range of laboratories, workshops, studios and/or experimental facilities.
  • Apply knowledge and skills to build, adapt, construct and repair test set-ups, experimental scenarios and laboratory equipment.
  • Utilise new and existing resources to deliver teaching, research and/or learning objectives.
  • Prepare and set-up equipment and facilities for the delivery of teaching, learning and research activities.
  • Liaise with others to identify resource requirements, store and deliver resources and keep accurate records of stock levels.
  • Liaise with academic staff and students and colleagues across the University to ensure a smooth and efficient service.
  • Provide supervision for teaching, learning and research activities, including students and staff.
  • Prepare safety documents and risk assessments for teaching, research and learning activities.
  • Record, monitor and collate information, analyse patterns and trends as part of teaching, learning and research activities.
  • Construct and/or repair mechanical, electrical, electronic and digital equipment and tools under the supervision of more experienced staff.
  • To provide technical support in respect of diet metabarcoding of bird and bat samples.
  • Operate a range of specialist machinery and/or equipment, such as the PCR machine, the gel rig, the centrifuge, etc.
  • To keep clear and accurate records of experimental procedures and results and produce concise written summaries of experimental results for senior staff.
  • To analyse and interpret data and results, as required, using standard procedures, and present findings accurately.  
  • Demonstrate methods for research activities to others, including students and staff.
  • Receive or prepare local and international shipments of biological samples.
  • Any other reasonable duties.

Recruiting to this post 

In order to be considered for interview, candidates must evidence each of the essential criteria required for the role in the person specification above (including those listed in the section ‘Realising Your Potential Approach’).  

In some cases, the recruiting panel may also consider the desirable criteria, so we recommend you evidence all criteria in your application.  

Please note that some criteria will only be considered at interview stage.

How to apply 

We prefer to receive applications online.

Please note that in submitting your application Durham University will be processing your data. We would ask you to consider the relevant University Privacy Statement https://www.dur.ac.uk/ig/dp/privacy/pnjobapplicants/ which provides information on the collation, storing and use of data.

What you are required to submit

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

Please ensure that you submit all documentation listed above or your application cannot proceed to the next stage.

Contact details 

For further information please contact; Dr Andreanna Welch; a.j.welch@durham.ac.uk

At Durham University, our aim is to create an open and inclusive environment where everyone can reach their full potential and believe our staff should reflect the diversity of the global community in which we work.  We welcome and encourage applications from members of groups who are under-represented in our work force including people with disabilities, women and black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

We will notify you on the status of your application at various points throughout the selection process, via automated emails from our e-recruitment system.  Please check your spam/junk folder periodically to ensure you receive all emails.

Person specification - skills, knowledge, qualifications and experience required

Essential Criteria:

  • Meticulous attention to detail.
  • Excellent organisation skills.
  • Strong time management skills.
  • Effective verbal and written communication skills.
  • Ability to work both independently and closely with team members on a regular basis.
  • Molecular lab skills, including pipetting and preparing solutions.
  • Previous experience conducting nucleic acid (e.g. DNA or RNA) extraction.
  • Previous experience conducting PCR and agarose gel electrophoresis.
  • Ability to maintain accurate and complete laboratory records.
  • Ability to use basic functions of Excel and other basic IT practices (email, Zoom or similar).

Desirable Criteria:

  • Previous experience or knowledge of DNA metabarcoding (e.g. microbiomes, environmental DNA, diet metabarcoding).
  • Previous experience preparing libraries for sequencing on Illumina platforms.
  • Ability to quantify DNA concentration by spectrophotometry (e.g. Nanodrop), fluorometry (e.g. Qubit, PicoGreen, plate reader), or quantitative PCR.
  • Previous experience using multi-channel pipettes.
  • Previous work with degraded DNA.
  • Ability to problem solve or trouble shoot technical issues in the lab.
  • Previous collaborative work (e.g. large team within a lab, with multiple lab groups within a university, or groups from multiple universities in the UK or elsewhere).

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.