Research Technician I, Ancient DNA

Updated: 4 months ago


Harvard Medical School


Position Description

Under the direction of the PI and senior scientists, the Laboratory Technician will help with analyzing ancient human DNA data. Using established protocols and technical procedures and working as part of a team of up to six technicians all rotating into and out of the same set of activities, the person who fills this position will be trained in and under the direction of the lab head will perform diverse tasks.

Working in a dedicated clean room, the Lab Technician will prepare powder from human skeletal remains, will extract DNA from the powder, and will prepare libraries for sequencing Outside of the clean room, the Lab Technician will perform enrichment of the libraries for positions of the human genome of scientific interest, will prepare the enriched libraries for sequencing, and will perform analysis and quality control of the data. The Lab Technician will also participate in weekly meetings as an equal member of the team.

This position is ideal for candidates who have finished college and are interested in ancient DNA and anthropology. It is a unique opportunity for interacting in a highly collaborative and dynamic environment and to be trained in a variety of experimental approaches. Direct training by other Lab Technicians and by the Lab Director will be provided.

Responsibilities include:

  • Sample preparation in a clean room environment to prepare for DNA extraction
  • Extracting of DNA and preparation of Next Generation sequencing libraries in a clean room environment
  • Amplification of DNA, cleanup, and enrichment of libraries
  • Working with liquid-handling robots
  • Keeping a meticulous record of experiments and analyses in a lab book and database
  • Decontaminating equipment and work surfaces after every experiment
  • Cleaning the clean rooms and equipment on a regular basis
  • Frequent discussions with laboratory colleagues working on ancient DNA
  • Occasional sample preparation in a non-cleanroom environment such as a museum
  • Preparing, ordering, and maintaining stocks of necessary consumables
  • Documenting, compiling, and analyzing experimental data
  • Updating supervisors by presenting oral and written reports
  • Reading relevant scientific literature
  • Working well in a team of research technicians with identical duties

Basic Qualifications

  • College background or equivalent work experience, preferably in a related discipline
  • At least 1 year of related work experience

Additional Qualifications and Skills

  • Bachelor's degree preferred
  • Strong understanding of molecular biology principles
  • Excellent fine motor skills
  • Meticulous work habits – including keeping a detailed and accurate lab notebook
  • Ability to apply critical thinking to experiments and outcomes
  • Strong ability to multitask
  • Excellent written, documentation, and oral communication skills
  • Familiarity with Microsoft Word and Excel
  • Familiarity with genomics (library preparation and sequencing) and sterile techniques
  • Previous work in an Ancient DNA laboratory
  • Skilled at troubleshooting experiments
  • Familiarity with genetics and next-generation sequencing, Medical Diagnostics, or microarray fabrication (either in academia or industry)
  • Familiarity with Cell Culture, including training in sterile techniques

Additional Information

This is a one-year term position from the date of hire, with the possibility of extension, contingent upon work performance and continued funding to support the position. 

This is an in-person position based on our campus in Boston.

The health of our workforce is a priority for Harvard University. With that in mind, we strongly encourage all employees to be up-to-date on CDC-recommended vaccines.

Please note that we are currently conducting a majority of interviews and onboarding remotely and virtually. We appreciate your understanding.

The Harvard Medical School is not able to provide visa sponsorship for this position.

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We invite you to visit Harvard’s Total Rewards website to learn more about our outstanding benefits package, which may include:

  • Paid Time Off: 3-4 weeks of accrued vacation time per year (3 weeks for support staff and 4 weeks for administrative/professional staff), 12 accrued sick days per year, 12.5 holidays plus a Winter Recess in December/January, 3 personal days per year (prorated based on date of hire), and up to 12 weeks of paid leave for new parents who are primary care givers.
  • Health and Welfare: Comprehensive medical, dental, and vision benefits, disability and life insurance programs, along with voluntary benefits. Most coverage begins as of your start date.
  • Work/Life and Wellness: Child and elder/adult care resources including on campus childcare centers, Employee Assistance Program, and wellness programs related to stress management, nutrition, meditation, and more.
  • Retirement: University-funded retirement plan with contributions from 5% to 15% of eligible compensation, based on age and earnings with full vesting after 3 years of service.
  • Tuition Assistance Program: Competitive program including $40 per class at the Harvard Extension School and reduced tuition through other participating Harvard graduate schools.
  • Tuition Reimbursement: Program that provides 75% to 90% reimbursement up to $5,250 per calendar year for eligible courses taken at other accredited institutions.
  • Professional Development: Programs and classes at little or no cost, including through the Harvard Center for Workplace Development and LinkedIn Learning.
  • Commuting and Transportation: Various commuter options handled through the Parking Office, including discounted parking, half-priced public transportation passes and pre-tax transit passes, biking benefits, and more.
  • Harvard Facilities Access, Discounts and Perks: Access to Harvard athletic and fitness facilities, libraries, campus events, credit union, and more, as well as discounts to various types of services (legal, financial, etc.) and cultural and leisure activities throughout metro-Boston.

Department Office Location

USA - MA - Boston

Job Code

403108 Research Assistant I Lab


55 - Hvd Union Cler & Tech Workers

Pre-Employment Screening



40 hrs. per week | Monday - Friday | 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

Commitment to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging

We are committed to cultivating an inclusive workplace culture of faculty, staff, and students with diverse backgrounds, styles, abilities, and motivations. We appreciate and leverage the capabilities, insights, and ideas of all individuals. Harvard Medical School Mission and Community Values

EEO Statement

We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, or any other characteristic protected by law.

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