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Postdoctoral Research Scientist - Electron Spectroscopy for Biology

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The Rosalind Franklin Institute is a new national Research Centre, funded by the UK government through UK Research and Innovation, dedicated to bringing about transformative changes in life science through interdisciplinary research and technology.

As a postdoctoral scientist within the correlated imaging theme of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, you will explore unprecedented methods for determining bonding states and reactivity in complex protein environments which could revolutionise the way we consider the chemical manipulation of biomolecules. The methods will use advanced spectroscopies in the electron microscope, localised at nm scales to probe exact bond identity and conversion of that bond identity to others and the location of metallic entities. Specific potential lines of investigation are:

a) The tracking of distinct bond orders and bonds strengths to highlight the immediate potential of certain and natural bonds in biology as powerful probes of function structure and location. These include higher bond orders (two, three) and those with distinct bond strengths (C – halogen), all of which may be subsequently manipulated through selective chemistries to other states (and these other states similarly observed). This role will explore direct bond identity using ALOOF Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy (EELS) which complements existing methods for characterisation, yet extends application directly into a biological arena.

b) A second approach is the precise arraying of metallic entities using biological templates. Such metallated clusters have striking potential not only in biology but also in new forms of mixed mode – which we call bio-heterogenous – catalysis. These will be studied using advanced Energy Dispersive X-Ray (EDX) analysis with large solid angle multiple detectors.

Precise characterisation of such systems is a challenge at the crucial interface between chemistry and biology. The use of pseudo-symmetrical arrayed protein templates with the capacity to self-assemble could engender a new mode of catalysis where the structural substrate for the catalyst itself self assembles. This will aid not only analysis but also design.

The application of similar systems, with their pseudo symmetrical signature, will essentially translate directly into new models of cellular imaging using mapped arraying. In addition, pseudosymmetry is present in other complex advanced therapeutic systems such as adenoviruses and associated vectors. Through the manipulation of the viral surface and the characterisation of that manipulation using these methods we aim to control nucleic acid delivery, which continues to be widely and increasingly used in human medicine (as exemplified by vaccine development).

This post will be located at the Rosalind Franklin Institute on the Harwell Campus.

The post holder will report to Dr J Kim, Deputy Science Director at the Rosalind Franklin Institute and ultimately to Professors Angus Kirkland and Ben Davis, Science Directors at the Rosalind Franklin Institute.


You will:

• Participate in all aspects of the methodology development and its application.

•Develop the scientific scope of individual projects, formulate relevant research questions, conduct individual independent research, analysing detailed and quantitative data, and generate original ideas by building on existing concepts.

• Design and perform experiments on microscopes at the Rosalind Franklin Institute

• Actively collaborate with chemists and biologists within the Next Generation Chemistry Theme

• Occasionally travel internationally to carry out experimentation with collaborators.

• Present findings at national and international meetings/conferences and keep up to date with developments in the field.

• Publish research articles in leading academic journals.

• Participate in and support the public engagement and widening access activities of the Rosalind Franklin Institute.

• Foster collaborations between the correlated imaging and next generation chemistry themes

• Work with others in a safe and timely manner considering all those who will be affected by your work.

• Any other duties that arise in the normal running of the Franklin and that can be reasonably requested of the post holder.

• The above job description reflects the present requirements of the post, and as duties and responsibilities change/develop, the job description will be reviewed and be subject to amendment in consultation with the post-holder.

Selection criteria


• A Ph.D. in Chemistry or another cognate subject with some experience in Electron Microscopy.

Research Skills


• A demonstrated ability to identify critical research questions, and to develop experimental and computational / theoretical strategies to address these.

• Ability to discuss, coordinate, and lead complex experiments and data analysis with colleagues from a variety of different disciplines.

• Practical and / or computational and theoretical expertise in transmission electron microscope operation and technique development.


• Knowledge of EELS and / or EDX

• An understanding of and interest in protein chemistry

Cognate Skills


• Ability to analyse and write up results to publication standard

• Ability to present complex information effectively to a range of audiences

• Effective written and verbal communication skills in English

• Experience of working in a multidisciplinary research environment

• Willingness to travel for training, dissemination of your work and collaboration.

Personal Qualities

• Commitment to science driven high quality research

• Ability to work collaboratively and as part of an interdisciplinary team

In return we offer:

• 25 days holidays

• Generous pension scheme (employer’s contribution currently up to 18%)

• Training and development opportunities for staff at all levels

• Bus pass discount scheme

• Access to employee discount platform

• Subsidised canteen

• Free on-site parking

• Campus location in beautiful countryside with social and sports clubs open to staff

Closing date: 26th April 2021, at 09:00am

Please note: A cover letter, CV and completed application form are required for this position.

Incomplete applications cannot be considered. 

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