BIFoR Field Research Technician

United Kingdom
£22,722 - £24,411
Aug 15, 2019
Sep 14, 2019
Organization Type
University and College
Full Time
BIFoR Field Research Technician - 81932

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Location: University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham UK

Band 500

Full time/FTC for up to 5 years

Closing date: 3rd September 2019

Due to the nature of the work undertaken in this role, all successful applicants will be subject to a satisfactory Occupational Health.

People are at the heart of what we are and do. We want to attract outstanding, inspirational, and talented people, support them to succeed, and celebrate their success. Working at the University of Birmingham gives you access to the best financial and physical resources, a beautiful campus and an intellectually stimulating and diverse community. Our sector leading development programmes have made this a place where staff can thrive and recognition by Athena Swan, Stonewall, and Two Ticks demonstrates our commitment to supporting talented people from all backgrounds.

As a result of a visionary 15 million pound donation the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research 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 3 years into a world leading 'big science' Free-Air Carbon Enrichment (FACE) Facility. As part of the facility, the post holder will provide support for and contribute to College activities under the direction of the Technical Services and the BIFoR Operations Manager as required; to assist in the management of research laboratories participating in advanced research in a number of fields.

An enthusiastic, innovative and self-motivated person is sought for the position of Research Technician to work on Quinquennial (half-decadal) carbon and nutrient dynamics in temperate forests: Implications for carbon sequestration in a high carbon dioxide world (QUINTUS) project funded by the Natural Environment Research Council. QUINTUS is a five-year research programme that aims to determine how a mature temperate forest responds to rising atmospheric CO2. QUINTUS uses a unique field facility (the only Free-Air Carbon Enrichment facility in northern temperate forest) and will deliver a foundational change in our understanding of future carbon uptake in temperate forests, and in mature forests generally.

The post holder will provide support for and contribute to College activities under the direction of the Technical Services and the BIFoR Operations Manager as required. To assist in the management of research laboratories participating in advanced research in a number of fields. The post-holder will be an active research member, conducting individual research as directed by the academic supervisors, and assisting research staff with experimental procedures in a woodland setting.

The post holder will join the BIFoR research team, led by Prof Rob MacKenzie, working on field measurements (including soil, plant tissue and gas samples) at the BIFoR Free Air Carbon Enrichment (FACE) experiment based 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 field and laboratory work involving several disciplines (notably plant physiology, nutrient cycling, soil science, hydrology) including the coordination of student volunteers. 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. They will also be expected to maintain laboratory equipment, consumables and to write risk assessments/method statements where appropriate.

The post holder will also assist with the whole BIFoR research group and the school in the management of safety including the preparation of COSHH forms and safe maintenance, use and eventual disposal of chemicals, including toxic chemicals. The post-holder must therefore be fully aware of School and University policies and relevant legislation

Main duties

Management of Teaching Laboratory facilities
  • Collect research data through a variety of research methods, such as sample collection (at ground level and, potentially, after appropriate training, at height), electronic instruments, image analysis using established software, and directed literature reviews. This will involve some work at heights of approx. 25 meters.
  • Analyse research data as directed and archive samples subsequently for future research work.
  • Record, develop and adapt experimental methods
  • Provide technical guidance as required to students/volunteers who may be assisting with research
  • Deal with problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines. For example, much of the scientific instruments are exposed to the external elements and require regular inspection and maintenance. The postholder will be required to regularly check many of the experiments to ensure the continuation of the data collection.
  • Follow protocols for the careful collection, tracking, and archiving of biological samples, including, where appropriate, sterile methods and quenching at -80oC.
  • Perform quality assurance checks on online data from several field instruments to ensure calibration conformity and reliability.
  • Carry out administrative tasks related directly to the delivery of the research
  • Support canopy access work by managing the harness and winch system, monitoring operator's wellbeing, prepared to perform aerial rescue if the event arises.
  • Archive the data in a standard format in collaboration of the research team and associated technical staff.
  • On occasion, present research outputs to other group members and assist in the drafting of academic publications or parts thereof, for example at seminars and as posters

General laboratory organisation, Research support and administration

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 and reporting more major deficiencies to the 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
  • 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 and the designated research plots.

Other Duties
  • 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.

Person Specification
  • BTEC HNC in Biological, Environmental and Chemical Sciences or equivalent experience.
  • Significant experience in active research, together with a good knowledge of research methodology in analytical environmental chemistry and/or microbiology.
  • A good working knowledge of word processing and spreadsheet software.
  • Experience of database management would be an advantage.Good written and verbal communication skills. Working knowledge of relevant computer software packages (e.g. Word, Excel).

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

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