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Postgraduate Research Associate

Job Description
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Vacancy Ref: : 052541 Closing Date : 10-Aug-2020
Contact Person : Baojun Wang Contact Number :  
Contact Email :

1. Job Details

Job title: Postdoctoral Research Associate in Computational Biology
School: School of Biological Sciences
Unit: Institute of Quantitative Biology, Biochemistry and Biotechnology
Line manager: Dr Baojun Wang

2. Job Purpose
The post holder will conduct research to study and develop computational methods and design automation tools for the design and analysis of genetic logic circuits for achieving both single-cell and multiple cellular consortia-based biocomputing. The successful candidate will study and apply computational biology, software development and machine learning methods to increase the efficiency and predictably of large-scale genetic logic circuit design, and to validate them in collaboration with experimental biologists and industry partners.

3. Main Responsibilities

  1. Conduct computational work on the design and development of computational methods and design automation tools for large-scale genetic logic circuits, and their validation and optimisation in collaboration with experimental colleagues. Ensure all data and documentation are archived properly and data are correct. (70%)

  2. The post-holder will maintain accurate and up-to-date records to document the research progress and take a lead role in writing up data for publication. Present and discuss research findings with the PI, group members at lab meetings and collaborators (formal and informal). (10%)

  3. To provide guidance and supervision to junior staff and students on the project as required. (5%)

  4. Keep up to date with relevant scientific developments through literature review, seminar and conference attendance etc. (5%)

  5. Contribute to the writing and peer-reviewing of research and review articles for international peer-reviewed journals (5%)

  6. Contribute to laboratory maintenance and maintenance of equipment to ensure the smooth functioning of the laboratory. (5%)

4. Planning and Organising
• The post holder will be responsible for the day-to-day organisation of the research activity, and will be expected to contribute to the planning of experimental strategies and approaches in consultation with the PI. They will be expected to assimilate information from published literature and apply it to their experimental design, and prioritise activities in order to meet agreed milestones and deadlines. The post requires an organised person with good record-keeping skills and an ability to multi-task and manage time effectively, to ensure that the research is conducted in accordance with the research timetable.
• Assist more junior members of the research team in planning and scheduling of their workload, in accordance with the demands of the overall project.

5. Problem Solving
• The post holder will design and implement experiments agreed upon in consultation with the PI, and will be expected to consult published literature and use their own experience and initiative in order to optimise new experimental/computational protocols and trouble-shooting any problems that arise.
• The post holder will be responsible for analysing, collating and interpreting data and designing follow-up analyses based on conclusions drawn, and will be encouraged to use their creativity in order to identify potential new lines of enquiry.
• The post holder will also be expected to contribute to the progress of the team by helping other lab members to overcome problems in their own projects.

6. Decision Making
Decisions on the overall development and implementation of the research strategy will be made in consultation with the PI. The post holder will be expected to make day-to-day decisions about experimental design and organisation in order to ensure that objectives are met in an effective and timely manner. They will also be expected to interpret experimental results and decide on the logical next steps for the project based on their conclusions.

• Taken independently: Organise own workload according to priority and adapt as necessary, setting of short-term time-lines, design experimental set-up to address specific research aims
• In collaboration with others: Problem solving and data interpretation, experimental design and discussion of short-term research aims and potential new research strategies
• Referred to manager: Overall timelines, changes of direction, response to serious and unexpected events, identification of the best way forward and interpretation of complex data (although input to these areas is expected).
• Level of Direction Given: Line manager will offer general orientation and advice, in addition to support in developing and implementation of research strategy, there will be an appropriate degree of independence.

7. Key Contacts/Relationships
The post holder will be supervised by the line manager and PI, Dr Baojun Wang. They will be expected to interact with other members of the lab on a daily basis and in weekly lab meetings, and to liaise with collaborators both within the institute and externally as required.

8. Knowledge, Skills and Experience Needed for the Job
A PhD (or shortly to obtain a PhD) in computational biology, systems biology, computer science, electrical engineering, bioinformatics, synthetic biology, biological engineering or other closely related field.

• Experience of modelling biological systems and/or bioinformatics data analysis
• Experience of working and communicating with wet lab experimental biologists
• Expertise in computer programming (e.g. Python/Matlab)
• A proven track record in delivering high quality research results suitable for publication

• Expertise in synthetic biology (developing modelling and simulation tools to aid the design and construction of synthetic gene circuits) is highly desirable.
• Experience in applying and developing design automation tools for electronic circuit design
• Experience in applying and developing design automation tools for genetic circuit design
• Experience of using and/or developing bioinformatics tools for nucleic acid and protein structure & function analysis, and software for data analysis and hypothesis testing.
• Experience of software design and development
• At least one first-author publication in a respected peer-reviewed journal.

Knowledge, Skills and Competencies
• High degree of self-motivation and ability to work under pressure while maintaining a high degree of accuracy
• Ability to work independently
• Ability to communicate effectively both orally and in writing
• Effective project and time management skills, including tidy and timely recording and reporting
• Good interpersonal skills

• Knowledge of design automation tools and their implementation
• Bioinformatics skills to mine and analyse large sets of nucleic acids and proteins
• Knowledge of gene regulation strategies and protein biochemistry
• Knowledge of synthetic biology (gene circuit design automation)
• Knowledge of machine learning methods

Personal Attributes
• Commitment to research
• Motivation and initiative to drive a project forward successfully
• Creativity and adaptability to identify and develop new lines of enquiry

9. Dimensions
To work as part of the Dr Baojun Wang group comprising approximately 10 research staff and students. This position is for a fixed term of 24 months in the first instance, with possibility to extend. The job holder will report to the supervisor. The project also involves collaborators both within the institute and externally, including interaction and collaboration with project relevant industrial partners (e.g. The Biological Computation Lab at Microsoft Research Cambridge).

10. Job Context and any other relevant information
This is a demanding but exciting opportunity for an ambitious, driven individual to develop their research skills. You are expected to take part in activities of the leading Edinburgh Centre for Synthetic and Systems Biology (SynthSys) which has worldwide reputation and state-of-the-art facilities for molecular and cellular analysis as well as leading expertise for synthetic biological systems design, analysis and modelling.

Application Procedure

All applicants should apply online by clicking the apply link at the bottom of this page and submitting an up to date CV. The application process is quick and easy to follow, and you will receive email confirmation of safe receipt of your application. The online system allows you to submit a CV and other attachments.

You will be notified by email whether you have been shortlisted for interview or not.

Closing date is 10 August 2020 at 5pm GMT

Right to Work
In accordance with the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 and Immigration Act 2016 the University of Edinburgh, as an employer, has a legal responsibility to prevent illegal working and therefore must check that all employees are entitled to work in the United Kingdom (UK).
To do so, the University requires to see original documents evidencing right to work in the UK before commencement of employment and this is normally carried out at interview. Details will be provided in any letter of invitation to interview.

For further information on right to work please visit our right to work webpage

If you are from outside the EEA and not currently eligible to work in the UK, there are visa routes that may be available to you, for example:

  1. Global Talent: If you are an academic, researcher or technical specialist in the field of sciences; humanities; engineering; medicine; digital technology; or the arts, it may be possible for you to apply for a Global Talent visa. This route requires you to apply to be endorsed as an internationally recognised leader or emerging leader in your particular field by an endorsing body (Arts Council England, British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering, Royal Society, Tech Nation, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)). However, if you are applying for a senior academic role, e.g. Professor/Reader there is an accelerated route to endorsement. Further information can be found on the UKVI website
  2. Tier 2: The University is a UKVI licensed sponsor and is able to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to successful candidates who are offered highly skilled roles and meet the eligibility criteria. The CoS enables candidates to apply for a Tier 2 (general visa).

Please note if you were last granted leave to stay in the UK in any Tier 2 category in the 12 months immediately preceding an application and the leave has
• ended or expired.
• the CoS which led to that grant of leave was issued for more than 3 months, and
• you are either:
o applying for entry clearance from outside the UK, or
o you are in the UK and had a previous period of Tier 2 leave, but then changed (‘switched’) into a different immigration category and now wishes to apply again under Tier 2.
You must wait 12 months before applying again.

Further information about whether you require a visa and other visa routes can be found at:

Salary: £33,797 to £40,322 per annum
Employment Type: Full Time
Contact Information
Name: Baojun Wang