Research Assistant/Research Fellow - Department of Life Sciences

London (GB)
£32,212 - £42,488 per annum (Incl. of London Allowance)
10 Sep 2020
End of advertisement period
09 Oct 2020
Academic Discipline
Life sciences, Biological Sciences
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

College of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences

Department of Life Sciences

Research Assistant/Research Fellow

Vacancy Ref: 13669

Salary (Grade R1): £32,212 - £42,488 per annum (Incl. of London Allowance)

Full-time, fixed term (20 months)

We have a fantastic opportunity for a researcher who has interests in the degradation of waste plastic by specific bacteria and bacterial communities/biofilms. The position is supported by Horizon 2020.

While modern economies depend highly on plastics in Europe, consuming in the range of 50 Mtons per year, only 25-31% of the plastic waste in Europe is currently recycled and the larger share is incinerated or even landfilled. Besides those often-non-optimal disposal routes, plastics, in particular packaging (bags, bottles, lids, etc.), account for 89-95% or roughly 8 Mtons of marine litter and 17 Mtons of plastic packaging is irreversibly dispersed on land every year worldwide. Thus, the very slow rate of degradation of plastics leads to an accumulating pollution persisting for hundreds of years. Microbial biotechnology may contribute to this enormous challenge. The focus of this position will be to use microbial bioprospecting and synthetic biology approaches to curate enzymes and microbial communities/biofilms capable of degrading conventional plastic packaging and agricultural waste plastics.

The successful post-holder will be responsible for the generation of synthetic enzymes capable of plastic degradation as well as the screening of bacterial biobanks to identify strains with plastic degrading bioactivity. This will involve approaches such as directed evolution and modular enzyme assembly. They will be responsible for accurate and efficient data generation, data management, collation and the reporting of results to the project lead. The post holder will need to demonstrate excellent attention to detail, organisational, team working and communication skills and have a keen interest in drafting research outputs for peer-review publication.

The successful applicant will work closely with other researchers within the group at the Division of Biosciences and with industrial and scientific partners in other centres.

Applicants must have an undergraduate degree and preferably a PhD or Masters in Microbiology-related or in a related discipline. Molecular cloning experience in bacteria is essential. Experience and knowledge in the field of plastic degradation by microorganisms is also desirable. They should be hardworking, motivated and be able to work both independently and collaboratively. This position is available for 20 months. Please include one paper or preprint that illustrates research skills that are relevant to this project.

The Division of Biosciences sits within the Department of Life Sciences. It is a large and expanding Division, delivering undergraduate programmes and postgraduate programmes. We work hard to provide a supportive and positive working environment and the Department of Life Sciences proudly holds an Athena SWAN Bronze Award. We are also a Disability Confident employer. The diversity of our staff adds greatly to this inclusive ethos, and we particularly welcome applications from women and under-represented groups.

For further information, please contact Dr Ronan McCarthy.

Closing date for applications: Friday 9th October 2020.

Interviews will take place week commencing: Monday 12th October 2020.

For further details and to apply please visit


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