Research Lab Manager - 13789 - Life and Environmental Sciences

University of Birmingham
Birmingham, United Kingdom
£27,511.00 - £33,797.00
Apr 11, 2021
Apr 14, 2021
Organization Type
University and College
Full Time
Position Details

College of Life and Environmental Sciences

Location: University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham UK

Full time starting salary is normally in the range £27,511 to £30,046, with potential progression once in post to £33,797.

Grade 6

Full Time - Permanent

Closing date - 31st January 2021


The College of Life and Environmental Sciences (LES) - which comprises of the Schools of Biosciences; Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (GEES); Psychology; and Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences (SportExR) - is an intensive user of research & teaching laboratories, the effective and efficient operation of which is crucial to numerous key outputs.

This particular post - embedded within the School of Biosciences - and under the direction of the College Deputy Head of Infrastructure and Facilities - forms part of a network / team of Research Lab Managers performing an integrated and cohesive College-wide infrastructure function focused on supporting research activities.

Summary of Role

The role of the Research Lab Manager in COLLES will be the day-to-day management of defined geographical multi-user / -disciplinary laboratory areas within the College's component Schools - overseeing, guiding and facilitating their general operation and providing dedicated consultative, advisory and practical support to the research groups working therein. They will be required to liaise with staff, students and technical colleagues to anticipate and understand needs and/or provide advice and guidance. As this post will be embedded in the School of Biosciences, the post holder will be responsible for oversight of several areas within the School and supporting the activity of several research groups.

The post holder will also be responsible for providing research support by providing access to laboratories and services as required by research staff and students. This includes overseeing such critical core activities as:-
  • Laboratory induction of new incoming staff / students.
  • Laboratory training of staff / students and maintenance of associated competency-documentation.
  • Monitoring and management of laboratory Health & Safety activities (H&S).
  • General laboratory housekeeping and optimization of laboratory practices (both practical and administrative).
  • Organization and management of local equipment, scientific instruments / facilities and other resources.
  • Responsible for training on certain core pieces of equipment for general use, i.e. Ultra Centrifuges.

Main Duties and Responsibilities


In designated areas, the post-holder will be responsible for:
  • Ensuring laboratory facilities are functioning at an optimal level.
  • Ensuring, in liaison with the College Buildings team, that the fabric and furnishings are maintained to a good standard and are fit for purpose.
  • Collaborating with the College Buildings team with respect to reporting and monitoring resolution of any failures of the building / fabric infrastructure.
  • In collaboration with the College Buildings team, overseeing the organisation of local security and access.
  • Managing the siting / storage of both equipment and consumables within laboratories.
  • Working closely with the College DHIF/ Operations Managers / Heads of School to achieve effective and efficient deployment of space and where required assist with any reviews and refurbishment / reconfiguration programmes aimed at achieving optimum use.
  • Monitoring and resolving any general laboratory housekeeping issues, implementing additional support mechanisms (eg. refresher training sessions) or making enhancements to existing processes where necessary.
  • Managing on-site compressed gas cylinders via the maintenance of both cylinder and pressure regulator inventories, plus details of user grant codes to cover rental costs.
  • Managing required chemical inventories where necessary including associated risk assessments.


Although academic leads located within the defined geographical laboratory areas exercise the day-today supervisory role of technical staff recruited to and working as part of their research group / programmes, the RLM has overall management, mentoring, development and welfare responsibility for all such staff in their remit areas. This includes:
  • Line-management of both core- and grant-funded research technicians.
  • Advising and supporting academic leads with the appointment of new technical staff; this will include participation in the preparation of job descriptions / person specifications and active participation in the recruitment and selection process (eg. being on interview panels, devising / conducting practical tests).
  • Monitoring and managing technical staff performance, annual leave and sickness-absence; this will involve extensive / diligent record-keeping and will include maintaining regular communication with individuals and their academic leads to ensure that the former receive appropriate training, mentoring and support in the execution of their duties, and addressing any disciplinary matters which may arise.
  • Monitoring the professional progress of technical staff; this will include maintaining records of education and training, and being proactive in developing their technical and wider skill base through the provision of appropriate structures, support and effective mentoring.
  • Playing a key role in the Performance Development Review (PDR) scheme; this will include conducting and documenting annual staff appraisals, justifying any recommendations for reward or improvement, and formulating appropriate learning and development programmes for both individuals and the technical staff group as a whole.
  • Providing a professional role model for all technical staff, demonstrating enthusiasm and energy in pursuit of best practice and College / University goals.
  • Contributing to the development of plans and strategies for the assigned areas of responsibility via liaison with both the College DHIF and School Ops Manager (as appropriate) to ensure the optimal placement of incoming staff and students.
  • Advising the College DHIF on succession planning for essential areas of technical support and putting in place suitable learning and development programmes as required.
  • Under the direction of the College DHIF, taking part where possible in College-wide initiatives linked to aspects of managing technical support staff or other related processes.


In designated areas, the post-holder will be responsible for:
  • Maintaining and managing an equipment inventory aimed at (a) cataloguing availability and optimising usage of resources, and (b) providing support to the College DHIF in populating and updating the College / University asset register.
  • Provision of advice, guidance and assistance regarding equipment use and related technical aspects; this includes (if appropriate) implementing the use of booking systems and assisting users in obtaining optimum results.
  • Ensuring equipment is kept in good working order / fit-for-purpose; this includes overseeing / arranging routine maintenance and repair as required, keeping appropriate records and notifying users of equipment issues and timescales for resolution.
  • Ensuring any irreparable / redundant equipment is disposed-of quickly and appropriately via approved routes, and that all statutory requirements are met.
  • Provision of advice, guidance and assistance regarding the sourcing and purchase of new equipment; this includes liaising with suppliers to obtain quotes / arrange demonstrations and notifying the College DHIF of any foreseeable safety issues or requirements for changes to infrastructure.

In general:
  • Negotiating / arranging (in liaison with School Operations Managers / suppliers) appropriate preventative maintenance / service contracts for specific core / communal kit as required.
  • Ensuring that the College achieves best value on all purchases (equipment and service contracts).
  • Ensuring, under the direction of the College DHIF, that strategic management of core / communal equipment meet the needs of an ever-changing work environment and is consistent with the strategic plans of the College. This will include seeking / pursuing opportunities for the establishment of cost-recovery, centralised facilities cross-College.
  • Working with colleagues from other Schools / Colleges, local industry and external institutions regarding the collaborative use of equipment and assessing the feasibility of such proposals.


University Policy states that academic leads hold ultimate responsibility for H&S within their areas of work. The tasks below therefore are designed to assist academic leads in meeting this obligation.

General Workplace Health and Safety
  • 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.
  • Demonstrate appropriate use of personal protective equipment e.g. face mask, fume hood.
  • Understand and practice fire and electrical safety procedures in the workplace.
  • Understand and practice safe manual handling and repetitive activities, including DSE.
  • Understand Hazardous area classification & DSEAR regulations and how they apply within their area of responsibility.
  • 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 and HTA.

Laboratory Safety & Housekeeping
  • Work safely in a laboratory and follow aseptic laboratory procedures where required.
  • Maintain excellent housekeeping.
  • Order and control stocks of laboratory materials where required.
  • Understand and follow risk assessments.
  • Understand and comply with laboratory health and safety and compliance with legal, regulatory, ethical requirements.
  • The postholder will be required to ensure or to manage other staff in the safe handling and disposal of all materials used in practical classes including hazardous chemicals. The ability to handle HF (Hydrogen Fluoride) would also be desirable.

Environmental Management
  • Understand the management and control of laboratory waste.
  • Understand the handling and disposal of chemical substances.
  • Understand environmental risk assessments (impact assessment).
  • Understand and apply the concepts of resource efficiency to energy, water and waste.

  • Understand and follow quality procedures to meet the requirements of quality standards relevant to their work.
  • Perform laboratory tasks following specified methodologies, such as Standard Operating Procedures.
  • Demonstrate technical competence in the use of specified instrumentation and laboratory equipment, including calibration where required.
  • Produce reliable, accurate data and keep accurate records of laboratory work undertaken and results.


In designated areas, the post-holder will be responsible for:
  • Providing guidance and assistance regarding purchase orders; this will include ensuring that University financial rules, regulations and procedures are appropriately complied-with.
  • Working closely with the College DHIF and College Finance Manager to ensure value for money concepts are achieved at all times with regard to the procurement of equipment, services and consumables linked directly to research groups based within the defined areas.
  • Technical authorisation of purchase orders to enable monitoring / offsetting of any potential H&S issues that may arise due to inadequate risk assessments. This also enables trends to be identified to assist with future procurement strategies.
  • Working with the College Finance team to both streamline and optimise purchasing and other financial procedures.
  • Under the direction of the College DHIF, participating in and supporting any College procurement initiatives established to enhance the use of core equipment and / or reduce energy consumption.

Person Specification

Required Knowledge, Skills, Qualifications, Experience


  • A degree or equivalent professional qualification in an appropriate Life Sciences discipline.
  • Evidence of sustained continuing professional development activity appropriate for the capabilities required for the role.

  • Science Council professional registration or equivalent.
  • A qualification in health & safety (e.g. The Institution of Occupational Safety & Health / IOSH, National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health / NEBOSH).
  • A professional management qualification (eg. The Institute of Leadership & Management Level 2+) would be desirable.

Previous Experience

  • An established record of achievement working at a senior level in laboratory management in a complex multi-user, multi-disciplinary research environment.
  • Evidence of previous line management experience.
  • Significant experience and expertise in laboratory work within the various disciplines hosted by the College.

Other essential skills and qualities
  • An ability to work largely autonomously / independently, but also function as part of a wider team, exercising professional judgement and seeking support and guidance when necessary.
  • An ability to organise and manage his / her own work load and respond effectively and appropriately to changing priorities and differing situations.
  • Robust levels of resilience (essential to managing the complexity of multi-user laboratories, staff and equipment resources).
  • A can do / positive attitude and a solutions- / continuous improvement-driven approach; this includes having good analytical and diagnostic / problem-solving skills.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office (Word, Excel etc.), database packages, and an ability to learn new software as appropriate (ideally using both PC and Mac platforms).
  • Knowledge of and experience in standard H&S policies applicable to a CAT 2 level Laboratory environment, GCP and COSHH processes.

Informal enquires to Andrew Lees, email: Andrew Lees

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