Research Technician in Nutrient & Elemental Analysis - School of Geography, Earth and Environmental

United Kingdom
£23,406.00 - £29,107.00
Oct 18, 2020
Nov 16, 2020
Organization Type
University and College
Full Time
Research Technician

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, College of Life and Environmental Sciences

Location: University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham UK

Full time starting salary is normally in the range £23,406 to £25,143 with potential progression once in post to £29.107

Band 500

Full time/FTC for 38 months

Closing date: 30th October 2020

As a result of a visionary 15-million-pound donation the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research (BIFoR) has been set up to provide a step-change in our understanding how our forests will respond to future increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), including effects on forest growth and agricultural pests and diseases. We are 4 years into a world leading 'big science' Free-Air Carbon Enrichment (FACE) Facility. As part of the facility, the post holder will join the BIFoR research team based at the Edgbaston campus, led by Prof Rob MacKenzie, working on soil water and aqueous nutrient dynamics at the BIFoR Free Air Carbon Enrichment (FACE) experiment located in Staffordshire.

The post holder will make a significant contribution to the processing of biotic and abiotic samples from the research woodland FACE experiment. This well-supported but challenging role combines significant laboratory and some fieldwork across multiple disciplines (ecology, ecohydrology, meteorology, and soil science). The post holder will work closely with the BIFoR research team to collect, process and analyse scientifically robust data to deliver high-end research, and will be expected to give training and guidance to other group members. The post-holder will also be expected to maintain laboratory equipment, consumables and to write COSHH, risk assessments/method statements where appropriate. The post holder will also provide support for and contribute to College activities under the direction of the Technical Services and Operations Manager as required. The post-holder should be conversant with a wide range of protocols in environmental analytical and preparative chemistry. The post-holder will be expected to operate automated analytical instruments and instruct new staff on its use for a wide range of applications. They will also be involved in data manipulation, analysis and retrieval. The general maintenance of the laboratories, including managing designated items of equipment and ancillary services and the monitoring of safety in these areas. They will assist with the research group and school in the management of safety including the preparation of COSHH forms and safe maintenance, use and eventual disposal of stocks of chemicals, including toxic substances. The post-holder must therefore be fully aware of School and University policies and relevant legislation.

Main duties

  • Processing and extraction of samples (soil, water and plants) for physico-chemical characterisation using environmental analytical techniques including colorimetry, gas and liquid chromatography and organic elemental analysis.
  • Undertaking laboratory based incubation of soil and tissues for carbon and nutrient decomposition rate determination.
  • Ensure quality control and assurance of the laboratory procedures and analytical instruments and to maintain a rigorous accuracy and precision measures on a daily run basis to ensure quality data generation.
  • Organise and manage data in standard formats (e.g. Excel) and archive samples as a backup and for future analysis.
  • Maintenance of measurement instruments such as a Skalar colorimetric analyser
  • Organising and participating fieldwork campaigns in rural woodland settings throughout the year

General laboratory organisation, Research support and administration: 10%
  • The post holder will assist with the daily administration and organisation of the work area, and will be expected to:
  • The post-holder will be expected to support the group(s) in taking responsibility for maintaining the allocated laboratories, associated rooms and facilities in a clean, functional and safe state, and to initiate the repair or replacement of any deficiencies which come within the remit of the local budgets.
  • Conducting fieldwork where need arises to collect samples or support colleagues in all seasons and weather conditions
  • Reporting more major deficiencies to the senior technician, technical managers, the academic supervisor, or as appropriate, the BIFoR operations manager.
  • Preparation of COSHH and Risk Assessments.
  • Effecting minor repairs and maintenance, cleaning and servicing of general laboratory and field equipment used by the group(s).
  • Maintenance of stocks of laboratory consumables as directed by the research supervisor or senior technician.
  • Making of inventory checks of equipment used by the group(s).
  • Providing support to the BIFoR operations manager by monitoring the health & safety of work practices within the group.
  • The post-holder will be expected to support technical training by instructing other members of the research group(s), technical staff or students in operations or techniques as required and to take part in the University's technical training programmes as required.
  • The post-holder would also be expected to attend any training programmes pertinent to this post as directed.

Health and Safety General 10%
  • General Workplace Health and Safety (where applicable)
  • Understand and comply with foundations of health and safety including responsibility for health and safety under the HASWA.
  • Understand and comply with risk assessment & control including COSHH assessments.
  • Complete risk assessment and implement controls including for COSHH.
  • Demonstrate appropriate use of personal protective equipment.
  • Understand and practice safe manual handling and repetitive activities, including DSE. Understand and comply with site and local emergency procedures.
  • Understand and comply with the University's safety policies and procedures.
  • Understand and comply with GCP.
  • Laboratory Safety & Housekeeping (where applicable)
  • Work safely in a laboratory and follow good laboratory practice, where required.
  • Maintain excellent housekeeping.
  • Order and control stocks of laboratory materials where required.
  • Understand and comply with laboratory health and safety and compliance with legal, regulatory, ethical requirements.
  • The post holder will be required to ensure the safe handling and disposal of all materials used, including hazardous chemicals where applicable.

Person Specification

Required Knowledge, Skills, Qualifications, Experience
  • BTEC HNC in Biological, Chemical, Soil and/or Environmental Sciences or equivalent experience.
  • Significant experience in active research, together with a good knowledge of research methodology in environmental analytical methods and nutrient analysis in environmental samples.
  • A good working knowledge of word processing and spreadsheet software.
  • Experience of data management and error checking.
  • Good written and verbal communication skills.
  • The role will involve travelling within the West Midlands area.

Advantageous Experience or Specialist Knowledge
  • Experience in sampling campaigns and fieldwork involving soil coring, root sampling, sensor installations/deployments would be beneficial
  • Experience with instrument maintenance, both laboratory/workshop based and outdoor settings, notably, continuous flow analysers.
  • Experience with ion-exchange resins, leaf ecophysiology and vegetative plant tissue sampling.
  • Good laboratory techniques and experience in natural abundance isotope analysis.

  • This post will be directly contributing to research at the BIFoR facility.
  • The postholder will not be expected to take on line management of other staff.
  • There are no budget holder requirements.
  • The post holder will be regularly communicating with a wide range of staff including Academic, Professional Services and Students. They will also be communicating with users both internal and external to the University of Birmingham.
  • The postholder will be expected to maintain a professional approach in all their duties. The following link outlines code of conduct, policies and procedures:

Equality and Diversity
  • The postholder will be expected to understand and support equality and values diversity in the workplace.
  • The postholder will be expected to moderate their behaviour to avoid unfair discriminatory impact or bias on others.
  • The postholder will have the ability to respond to equality and diversity issues in line with relevant policies and procedures.

We value diversity at The University of Birmingham and welcome applications from all sections of the community'

Valuing excellence; sustaining investment

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