Research Fellow - School of Biosciences

United Kingdom
£30,942.00 - £42,792.00
Jan 05, 2021
Feb 04, 2021
Organization Type
University and College
Full Time
Applications are invited for a full-time Postdoctoral Research Fellow position to work with Professor Rob Jackson at the School of Biosciences and Birmingham Institute of Forest Research (BIFoR)/Institute of Microbiology & Infection (IMI), University of Birmingham. The successful candidate will work on a 3-year project aimed at studying how bacteria cause disease in trees.

Trees are critical, both individually and collectively, for supporting biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, carbon sequestration, flood protection and mediating the health of the global atmosphere. With the large number of pests and diseases emerging and establishing globally, including several pathogens in the UK, it is crucial that we improve our understanding of infection and disease progression to enable the development of intervention and management measures. A significant investment into BIFoR has allowed the development of an exciting new research programme that will use key technologies to examine how bacteria cause diseases in trees.

The approaches to be employed will be the establishment of robust pathosystem models that underpin a detailed examination of infection and disease progression, following both what the pathogen does and how the host responds. This will involve transcriptomic analysis and genetic screens to identify key pathogen genes underpinning infection; metagenomics to understand how host microbial communities respond to disease progression; metabolomics to examine the metabolic and chemical changes occurring during, or in response to, infection. These approaches will significantly enhance our capability of studying tree diseases, aid the recovery of woodland ecosystems and inform tree planting and management strategies for the future.

The candidate will collaborate with Drs Estrella Luna-Diez and Graeme Kettles and other colleagues in BIFoR, Professor Willem van Schaik in IMI as well as researchers at Harper Adams University (Professor Dawn Arnold), NIAB (Dr Richard Harrison) and Imperial College (Professor John Mansfield) to understand disease in oak, horse chestnut and ash in parallel to ongoing work in cherry.

The candidate will work alongside two other PDRA positions for complementary research approaches. Expertise in molecular genetics, transcriptomics, metabolomics and bioinformatics analysis of transcriptome and genomic data are particularly desirable.

The candidate will be expected to design, execute and analyse field and laboratory experiments; have expertise in experimental design and statistical analyses; isolate epiphytic and pathogenic bacteria from trees, both culturable and non-culturable for further analysis; carry out genetic analysis; use plants and trees for pathogenicity tests and host resistance assays; prepare the results for and contribute to high quality academic publications, to present at national and international academic conferences, and engage in public engagement activities. Furthermore, the candidate will be expected to play a central role in working with other research group members including a technician who will support the group activities.

Summary of Role
  • Work within specified research project
  • Design and carry out experiments in molecular microbiology and plant pathology
  • Analyse and interpret research findings and results by using a range of statistical software packages for the analysis of data
  • Contribute to broader areas of project management, help with writing of research project applications, and supervision of students in related research activities

Main Duties and Responsibilities
  • Contribute to design of experiments
  • Develop research objectives and proposals
  • Analyse and interpret data
  • An ability to work independently and deal with problems that may affect the attainment of research objectives and deadlines
  • An ability to demonstrate good teamwork skills working with others on the project
  • Assist in supervision of students on their research work
  • Provide guidance to PhD students where appropriate to the discipline
  • Disseminate research findings for publication and research seminars
  • Contribute to writing research funding
  • Participate and contribute to lab meetings and seminars
  • Present research outputs, for example at seminars and as posters, talks at conferences
  • Undertake management and administration duties arising from the research

Person Specification

  • A PhD degree in a the relevant subject
  • Strong knowledge of bacterial pathogens and host immune systems
  • Experience in microbiology, molecular biology and/or molecular plant pathology
  • Experience in one or more of: genomics and metagenomics, metabolomics, transcriptomics, bioinformatics
  • Experience with statistical analysis of data and genome sequencing
  • Ability to conduct and manage own and original research
  • Ability to work both independently and as part of a team
  • Excellent academic writing skills for publication of research articles in high impact journals
  • Excellent academic presentations skills
  • Excellent organisation and time-management skills

  • Experience of working with trees
  • Experience of fieldwork and sampling
  • Supervision experience (BA, masters, research assistants)
  • Demonstrate a commitment to excellence in academic practice
  • Significant contribution to the management of research activities

Informal enquires to Robert Jackson Informal"> Informal enquires to Robert Jackson

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