Postdoc Research Associate/Postdoc Research Fellow - Engineering, Mathematics & Physical Sciences

Exeter, Devon (GB)
09 Jul 2018
End of advertisement period
07 Aug 2018
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Postdoctoral Research Associate/Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Job reference P63233

Application closing date 07/08/2018

Location Exeter

Salary Postdoctoral Research Associate from £28,936 up to £33,518 on Grade E and Postdoctoral Research Fellow from £34,520 up to £42,418 on Grade F. Appointment made to appropriate level depending on qualifications and experience.

Package Generous holiday allowances, flexible working, pension scheme and relocation package (if applicable).

Job category/type Research

Job description

Optics, Instrumentation or Microfluidics

College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences - based in the Living Systems Institute. 

The College wishes to recruit a Postdoctoral Research Associate/Postdoctoral Research Fellow to support the work of Professor Frank Vollmer, Prof. Thomas Richards, and Dr Fabrice Gielen. This full-time post is available from 1 September 2018 on a fixed term basis to 29 February 2020, with possibility for extension thereafter.

The project will develop new optical platforms for microdroplet analysis that will be used in directed evolution experiments and will allow revolutionary approaches to exhaustively sample the mutational space of a protein and its function.

This project is highly interdisciplinary and will combine the expertise of Prof. Frank Vollmer, Prof. Thomas Richards and Dr Fabrice Gielen; all research groups are located at the Living Systems Institute.

Prof Vollmer's laboratory is pioneering optical sensors and spectrometers to visualise and detect processes at the micro- and nanoscale. For more information on Professor Vollmer's laboratory:

Prof. Tom Richard's group is a molecular and evolutionary biologist studying the diversity of eukaryotic microbes, the tree of life and how genome diversification has driven the evolution of eukaryotic complexity.   

Dr. Gielen's group develops microfluidic tools enabling the isolation of very rare proteins found in ultra-large enzyme libraries, used either in directed evolution or functional metagenomics. He has pioneered the use of UV-Vis absorbance as a read-out for high-throughput microdroplet screens.

Project details:

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) sensors utilise a light beam trapped in a dielectric particle to sensitively detect nanoparticles and even single molecules1-3. This sensing approach will be extended to micro-droplet-based sensing4-5. High-throughput, ultrafast and ultrasensitive absorption measurements in micro-droplets will be realised by integrating the sensing approach with state-of-the-art micro-droplet fluidics6. The micro-droplet sensor platform will enable us to screen function and comparative kinetics of enzymes encoded from target DNA templates on the order of 5 million variants an hour allowing to assess wide landscapes of mutational permutation and search meta-genomic data for genes encoding specific function. The work will take place at the Living Systems Institute, University of Exeter.


1 Nature Nanotechnology 9, 933-939 (2014). 2 Adv. Optics & Photonics 7, 168-240 (2015). 3 Scientific Reports 7, 41997 (2017). 4 The European Physical Journal Special Topics 223, 1971-1988, (2014).5 Advanced Optical Materials 2, 1155-1159 (2014).6 PNAS 113. E7383-E7389 (2016).

Requirements for the role:

Experience with optics, lasers and building optical instrumentation is essential. Some familiarity with microfluidics, microfabrication, and LabView for data acquisition is desirable.

You will be able to present information on research progress and outcomes, communicate complex information, orally, in writing and electronically and prepare proposals and applications to external bodies.

For Postdoctoral Research Associate, you will:

  • Have a PhD (or nearing completion) or equivalent qualification/experience in a related field of study (optics, instrumentation or microfluidics).
  • Have sufficient knowledge in the discipline and of research methods and techniques to work within established research programmes.
  • Have an understanding of health and safety legislation.
  • Have excellent written and verbal communication skills.

For Postdoctoral Research Fellow, you will:

  • Have a PhD or equivalent qualification/experience in a related field of study (optics, instrumentation or microfluidics)
  • Possess sufficient specialist knowledge in the discipline to develop/follow research programmes and methodologies.
  • Have a record of research output in high quality publications.
  • Have experience of managing research projects and research teams.

Please read our Job Description and Person Specification for full details of this role and candidate requirements at each level.  Please indicate which level of appointment you are considering, within your application.

The University of Exeter is an equal opportunity employer.  We are officially recognised as a Disability Confident employer and an Athena Swan accredited institution.  Whilst all applicants will be judged on merit alone, we particularly welcome applications from groups currently underrepresented in the workforce.