PDRA in Omics for Plant Chemical Biology

Updated: 3 months ago
Location: Harwell, ENGLAND
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 22 Feb 2021

Project - T6P Omics

Hours: 37.5 hours per week

Contract type: 2 years’ fixed term contract

Reporting to: Prof Ben Davis

The Rosalind Franklin Institute (the Franklin) 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. Within the Next Generation Chemistry theme, one of the aims is to realise the full potential of synthetic methods applied in biological systems as possible new modes of biotechnology. Based on this approach we have developed methods that allow light-mediated control of sugar and proteins, including signalling molecules [see Nature 2016, 540, 574-578, Nature 2020, 585, 530-537]. This has led to the development of a technology in collaboration with Rothamsted Research where ‘light-controlled’ sugar signalling can be activated in plants under the control of simple sunlight to potentiate function (including enhanced yields in crops >10% such as wheat).

Within this theme, you will expand on these discoveries to interrogate the mechanisms that underlie this striking enhancement of plant function. In particular, we will explore novel methods for tracking the metabolic consequences of this chemical control of plant at the protein, sugar and metabolic level using ‘omics’ [proteomics, glycomics, metabolomics]. The project is funded by UKRI-BBRSC and is a collaboration with Rothamsted Research, University of Oxford and other themes at the Franklin as well as other potential industrial and academic collaborators and experts in the UK and beyond. The post, which is for 2 years in the first instance, reports to the Franklin’s Theme Lead for Chemistry, the Franklin’s Head of Mechanistic Proteomics, the Director of Oxford Chemistry Mass Spectrometry and will work alongside other researchers in the Franklin and at partner university institutes including at the University of Oxford (where the group is jointly based).


You will:

  • Embrace the primary project of the role, namely developing various omics systems for exploring the consequences in planta of synthetic sugar systems.
  • Collaborate with industrial and academic partners (especially on in planta application).
  • Collaborate with other researchers on design hypotheses
  • Work with other themes and researchers to develop the burgeoning Franklin environment to be as suitable as possible for such work.
  • Develop the scientific scope of the project, formulate relevant research questions, conduct individual research, analysing detailed and complex qualitative and/or quantitative data from a variety of sources, and generate original ideas by building on existing concepts
  • Work together with the surrounding facilities to ensure efficient protein production and chemistry at the Franklin and Harwell environment
  • Publish research articles in leading academic journals.
  • Present findings at national and international meetings/conferences.
  • Take a formal or informal role (as required) in the supervision of research students, including recruitment, mentorship and career development.
  • Raise research funds through grant applications, and manage own area of a larger research budget.
  • Participate in and support the public engagement and widening access activities of the Franklin
  • Any other duties that come up in the normal running of the facility and that can be reasonably requested of the post-holder.

Selection criteria


  • A post-graduate qualification, or equivalent experience, in Chemistry, Biochemistry or Chemical Biology, Biology, Biomolecular Science, or related subjects.
  • Experience in omics analyses especially proteomics and/or metabolomics .
  • A demonstrated aptitude for omics system design and analysis.
  • Experience with developing routinely usable methods.
  • Experience with devising research questions and to develop strategies to address them
  • Ability to work both independently and as part of a team
  • Strong organisational and communication skills.
  • Ability to travel occasionally for training or dissemination of your work.
  • Experience with project management and demonstrated ability to deliver agreed milestones in a timely manner, adapt to changing priorities
  • Ability to discuss and coordinate experiments with a variety of colleagues from different disciplines


  • Experience in saccharides, including synthesis, extraction, modification and characterization.
  • Expert knowledge of structural methods.
  • Expert knowledge of plant sugars and associated pathways.
  • Expert knowledge of carbohydrate-processing enzymes.
  • Expert knowledge of plant culture, analysis and phenotypic characterization.
  • Knowledge of biological chemistry and bioinformatics.
  • Experience with general biophysical techniques such as SPR, ITC, fluorescence, etc.

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: 22nd February 2021 at 9:00am

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