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Research Assistant or Research Fellow in Engineering Biology

Cranfield, United Kingdom
£34,450 per annum to £39,316 per annum
Closing date
14 Apr 2024

Job Details

School/Department: School of Water, Energy and Environment
Based at: Cranfield Campus, Cranfield, Bedfordshire
Hours of work: 37 hours per week, normally worked Monday to Friday. Flexible working will be considered.
Contract type: Fixed term contract
Fixed Term Period: For 3 years
Salary: Research Assistant (if close to completing PhD): Full time starting salary is normally £34,450 per annum. Research Fellow (if PhD obtained): Full time starting salary is normally in the range of £37,337 to £39,316 per annum, dependent on skills and experience.
Apply by: 14/04/2024

Role Description

Research Assistant or Research Fellow in Engineering Biology

The post is part of the recently funded UKRI-funded Engineering Biology Programme Grant “EBIC: Environmental Biotechnology and Innovation Centre”, a collaboration between 10 universities including Cranfield, Bangor, Brunel, East Anglia, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Heriot-Watt, Newcastle, and Southampton, as well as more than two dozen industry and academic partners.

You will join a highly applied interdisciplinary project at the intersection of synthetic biology, environmental engineering, and biotechnology. We aim to explore cutting-edge techniques from synthetic biology, biotechnology, and engineering science to develop innovative solutions in bioengineering and bioremediation. With a team of experts from diverse fields, we are on a mission to bridge the gap between engineering biology research and practical applications, ensuring that our findings translate into meaningful actions that make a substantial and measurable difference in the world.

The research project will develop new technologies underpinning Synthetic/Engineering Biology, with the goal of transforming the field to add reliability, robustness, and predictability throughout the biological design process. This will be addressed with a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach with the team developing new wetware, software, hardware, and theory, with these “pillars” of the programme contributing solutions to key application challenges in Bioengineering Applications, Biotechnologies and Environmental Engineering.

The project has the real potential to go far beyond fundamental research and has the potential to evolve into a real enterprise in the near future. This fast-paced project will give you the opportunity to develop new skills by working closely with our interdisciplinary team and build their international profile including via work with our academic and SME collaborators.

About the Role

We are looking for a passionate and skilled Molecular Biologist with a specialisation in synthetic biology research and biotechnology application. The candidate will play a crucial role in developing engineering tools and microbial consortia manipulation for biological water treatment systems, environmental monitoring, resource recovery and bioremediation strategies.

The integration of engineering principles with biological systems is vital for managing pollutant cycles during waste and wastewater treatments. This process not only facilitates pollutant conversion into useful resources, but also underscores the potential of pollutants upcycling, transcending simple pollutant removal towards value creation.

The role involves leading research initiatives targeting non-conventional bacterial genomes for environmental applications in water and waste systems. This includes utilising advanced genome targeting and editing techniques to develop bacterial strains for various purposes such as surfactant production and enhanced degradation processes. The position also entails developing microfluidics and single-cell Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) methods for bacteria, conducting experiments with multiple bacterial strains, collaborating with a multidisciplinary team, analysing and interpreting data for research papers and presentations, staying updated on synthetic biology and gene editing technologies, and supervising and mentoring junior researchers and students involved in the project.

This position offers the unique opportunity to be part of an internationally regarded, dynamic, friendly, diverse and inclusive team working on the application of cutting-edge synthetic biology tools in pathway and metabolic engineering, addressing current challenges in key areas such as biotechnology and environmental applications. You will have an opportunity to work together within a team of microbiologists, environmental engineers, chemists, experimental biologists and bioinformaticians, to develop novel engineering biology strategies for environmental applications in the water and waste sectors and explore untapped biology of diverse microorganisms.

About You

You should hold a PhD (or be close to completion) in Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Bioengineering, or a related field, along with demonstrated experience in working with bacteria, gene circuits, and engineered biofilm systems. Proficiency in modern gene targeting and editing techniques is essential, as well as a strong background in synthetic biology, fermentation science, and bioprocess engineering. Excellent analytical, problem-solving, and communication skills are required, along with a proven track record of publications in relevant scientific journals. You should have experience in experimental design, execution, and data analysis, particularly in the context of environmental science and engineering and demonstrate a strong understanding of their own research field and the ability to work effectively in multidisciplinary teams. Strong oral and written communication, as well as technical writing skills, are essential, along with a proactive and collaborative attitude towards problem-solving and achieving project milestones. Confidence in collaboration, networking, and independent research, as well as the ability to work both independently and as part of a team with limited supervision, are key attributes for success in this role.

About Us

As a specialist postgraduate university, Cranfield’s world-class expertise, large-scale facilities and unrivalled industry partnerships are creating leaders in technology and management globally. Learn more about Cranfield and our unique impact here.

You will be associated with the Water Theme, home to the Water-Environment-Health-Nexus group and the Environmental Biotechnology Innovation Centre led by Professor Frederic Coulon. This centre is committed to tackling the escalating challenges of environmental stewardship and sustainability within the interconnected realms of water, soil, and waste. Considering the global trends such as rapid urbanisation and climate change, sustainable resource management confronts unprecedented risks. The nexus approach recognizes the intricate links between water, soil, and waste, underlining the necessity for coordinated management to navigate sustainable development amidst these complexities. Guided by this imperative for integration, Cranfield has cultivated a transdisciplinary research community, facilitating knowledge sharing among experts specialising in diverse facets of the nexus. This collaborative milieu empowers us to embrace a holistic perspective in our research activities, promoting integrated and sustainable resource management. With expertise spanning environmental biotechnology, engineering biology, water and waste treatment, and remediation, our centre is well-equipped to address these intricate challenges. Find out more about our work here.

Our Values and Commitments

Our shared, stated values help to define who we are and underpin everything we do: Ambition; Impact; Respect; and Community. Find out more here.

We aim to create and maintain a culture in which everyone can work and study together and realise their full potential. We are a Disability Confident Employer and proud members of the Stonewall Diversity Champions Programme. We are committed to actively exploring flexible working options for each role and have been ranked in the Top 30 family friendly employers in the UK by the charity Working Families. Find out more about our key commitments to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and Flexible Working here.

Working Arrangements

Collaborating and connecting are integral to so much of what we do. Our Working Arrangements Framework provides many staff with the opportunity to flexibly combine on-site and remote working, where job roles allow, balancing the needs of our community of staff, students, clients and partners.

How to apply                                   

For an informal discussion about this opportunity, please contact, Professor Frederic Coulon, Professor of Environmental Chemistry & Microbiology on: (T) 01234 754981 or (E):

Please do not hesitate to contact us for further details on E: Please quote reference number 4790.

Closing date for receipt of applications: 14 April 2024

Interviews to be held: Week Commencing 22 April 2024


Cranfield is world-leading in its contribution to global innovation. With our emphasis on the aerospace, agrifood, defence and security, environmental technology, leadership and management, manufacturing and transport systems sectors, we have changed the way society thinks, works and learns.

We generate and transform knowledge, translating it to the benefit of society. Our partners, from micro SMEs to the largest blue-chip multinationals, from governments across the world to NGOs and charities, tell us this is what they value about Cranfield.

Innovation is part of Cranfield’s ‘corporate DNA’, evolved over 60 years of commitment to this agenda.

Our work informs policy for governments and produces new technologies and products for the world of commerce. We draw on this pool of research and consultancy to provide our students with a distinctive ‘real-world’ learning environment, allowing them to develop as professionals and transfer their new knowledge to the global economy. This has always been the ‘Cranfield way’ but it has never been more important than in today’s world.

People are key to our competitive advantage and so we need to attract, develop and retain the best talent for our business. We aim to create a culture where you can flourish and succeed and, in turn, contribute towards Cranfield’s success.

Company info
+(44)01234 750111
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