View Vacancy -- Scientific Specialist in Cryo-Electron Microscopy - RCaH 1584

Open Date
28/05/2021, 09:00
Close Date
20/06/2021, 23:55
Research Complex at Harwell

This is an exciting and unique opportunity to work at the interface of state-of-the art national facilities at the Harwell Campus. Research Complex at Harwell is a world-class, science-led national resource with a mission to enable and add value to outstanding new science from co-location with the UK’s large-scale facilities. Together with eBIC, the Electron Bio-Imaging Centre at the Diamond Light Source, we seek a talented individual with experience in cryo-electron microscopy to join us in researching the scientific solutions to the problems of today. This role will manage Research Complex’s new Thermo-Fisher Glacios cryo-EM, co-located at eBIC, and therefore taking advantage of the world-leading instruments and experience in cryo-electron microscopy. This job will provide opportunities to apply your knowledge, and research skills to a whole range of issues across life sciences. Further details on the role can be found below. We look forward to your application and welcoming you to the team.


Research Complex at Harwell

Research Complex provides an environment that brings together leading physical and life sciences researchers alongside some of the UK’s leading research facilities to accelerate collaboration at the interface of disciplines. Many major advances in science take place at the boundaries between the traditional disciplines, and increasingly utilise advanced technologies available at centralised facilities.


Research Complex houses a significant number of long, medium and short-term research groups in life and physical sciences who benefit from the proximity of the major facilities and the synergy generated by the multidisciplinary environment. We support a wide spectrum of research, from:


A research team from Imperial College London who have undertaken multidisciplinary approaches to study the molecular mechanism of membrane proteins from pathogenic bacteria, providing understanding to help in the fight against anti-microbial resistance.




The UK Catalysis Hub, which focuses on cutting edge multidisciplinary catalytic science including homogeneous, heterogenous, bio, and engineering catalysis. Fundamental research into catalytic processes and development of new catalysis, supporting the capture of CO2, new pharmaceutical processes, water purification, new materials to reduce energy consumption and many other impacts.


Research Complex is a jointly funded UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Diamond Light Source (DLS) initiative, run by The Medical Research Council (MRC) on behalf of the stakeholders. UKRI brings together nine partners to create an independent organisation with a strong voice for research and innovation, more information can be found at

Diamond Light Source

Diamond Light Source is the UK’s national synchrotron science facility. By accelerating electrons to near light-speed, Diamond generates brilliant beams of light from infra-red to X-rays which are used for academic and industry research and development across a range of scientific disciplines including structural biology, physics, chemistry, materials science, engineering, earth and environmental sciences.

eBIC, the Electron Bio-Imaging Centre at Diamond, is the UK national cryoEM facility, which provides scientists with state-of-the-art instruments and expertise in cryoEM. Currently eBIC houses four Titan Krios, a Talos Arctica, and a Glacios, two cryoFIB/SEM instruments (Scios and Aquilos), and a Leica cryoCLEM for correlative light and electron microscopy -

UK Research and Innovation is a new entity that brings together nine partners to create an independent organisation with a strong voice for research and innovation, more information can be found at

MRC - 4
Harwell Campus, Oxfordshire
£32,005 – £40,769 per annum (depending on experience)
£4,000 per annum, Recruitment and Retention Allowance
Full Time

Overall purpose:

To enable world leading research by providing scientific and technical support for a Glacios Cryo-Electron Microscope, which is located at the DLS Electron Bio-Imaging Centre (eBIC). The role will also provide additional support for the transmission and scanning electron microscopes at Research Complex. The role is part of a small, agile team supporting over 200 researchers.


Main duties:

·        Provide operational support for the electron microscopes (principally the cryo-EM) including responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the systems.

·        Provide training and support on cryo-electron microscopy for short and long term Research Complex users.

·        Act as a single point of contact (Local Contact) for a proportion of user experiments providing specialist technical/scientific advice and assistance to Research Complex users with sample preparation procedures and protocol.

·        Provide maintenance and calibration of the cryo-EM equipment (Thermo Glacios), as well as the additional electron microscopy instrumentation at Research Complex (Jeol 2100).

·        Ensure (in cooperation with eBIC) that the cryo-EM facility meets current safety standards and requirements, including sample preparation and user samples.

·        Perform microscope analysis and image processing, such as for example serialEM software analysis.

·        Collaborate with eBIC on upgrades and development projects.

·        Procurement of instrument components, including writing system specifications, the management of contracts and liaison with suppliers.

·        Diagnose and repair faults on the TEM and other electron microscopy instruments and ancillary equipment. The post-holder will be capable of solving problems encountered with such equipment themselves or make use of external support, as appropriate.

·        Keep records of the usage of instruments and manage the booking system to maximise the efficient and effective use of the facility.

·        Liaise with EM users about their experimental samples and material including COSHH and risk assessments.

·        Manage the development, procurement, testing, installation, and maintenance of bespoke scientific equipment and software to perform novel experiments at Research Complex and the peripheral laboratories.

·        Advise on the development of data acquisition, visualization and analysis software and be involved in commissioning of new software.

·        Promote Research Complex externally; including for example public outreach activity and engaging with the scientific community.

·        Personally keep up to date with technical developments in electron microscopy, implement them at Research Complex where appropriate and advise users on such developments and new opportunities.


Key responsibilities:

·        To ensure that users are well trained and have regular access to a well-maintained Research Complex EM instrumentation.

·        To ensure the safe and efficient use of Research Complex EM equipment.

·        To ensure the safety aspects of running EM instruments and of sample preparation equipment and procedures.

·        To liaise with users about EM instrument’s availability and bookings.

·        To complete and organise the services and maintenance of EM facility equipment. 


These lists are not exhaustive, and you will be expected to help cover roles when colleagues are away. 


Working relationships:

This post reports to the Scientific Support Manager, the role involves interaction with the scientists, students and visitors based at Research Complex, as well as the core team. The post holder will also provide information on equipment usage, and equipment procurement details or forecasts.


Person Specification

Education / Qualifications / Training required:


·        Appropriate scientific degree.


·        Appropriate post-doctoral experience in electron microscopy.

·        Appropriate post-doctoral experience in cryo-electron microscopy.

·        Appropriate PhD in biophysics/physics/material sciences/engineering or related disciplines and proven relevant experience. 


Previous work experience required:


·        Experience in running and maintaining electron microscopes, preferably in a research environment.


·        Experience of working in, and assisting in the management and operation of an EM facility


Knowledge and experience:


·        Experience of working with biological samples.

·        Experience with Windows/Linux/Unix.

·        Experience with image processing.


·        Experience preparing biological samples.

·        Experience in scripting (E.g. Python) or programming.

·        Experience with operating, maintaining and troubleshooting an SEM or FIB-SEM.

·        Experience in maintaining and troubleshooting a state-of-the-art cryo electron microscope.

·        Experience co-ordinating manufacturer field service engineers and commissioning novel hardware and software.


Personal skills/behaviours/qualities:


·        Scientific and technical interest in the field of electron microscopy and its applications for various life and physical sciences projects.

·        Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with users and supervisors at all levels

·        Ability to work independently and as part of a multi-disciplinary team.

·        Excellent interpersonal, communication and presentational skills.

·        Ability and initiative to get to the heart of the problem and take it effectively through to completion.

·        Excellent organisational and planning skills and methodical record keeping.

We are looking for an individual who can help us run the state-of-the-art Research Complex instrumentation within our laboratories. Multidisciplinary research of this scale is unique in the UK and we are looking for a flexible individual who can adapt to need and circumstance and does not shy away from a challenge. Electron microscopy is a major expansion area of activity on the RAL site, and is developing into an internationally leading facility. The recent acquisition of a Thermo Fisher Glacios cryo-electron microscope is the next step in this improvement and enhances already significant capability at RAL.

Closing date for this vacancy is Sunday 20th June 2021.

Interviews will be held w/c 5th July 2021.

The MRC is a great place to work and progress your career, be it in scientific research or the support functions.The MRC is a unique working environment where our researchers are rewarded by world class innovation and collaboration opportunities that the MRC name brings. The MRC is an excellent place to develop yourself further and a range of training & development opportunities will be available to you, including professional registration with the Science Council.

Choosing to come to work at the MRC (part of UKRI) means that you will have access to a whole host of benefits from a defined benefit pension scheme and excellent holiday entitlement to access to employee shopping/travel discounts and salary sacrifice cycle to work scheme, as well as the chance to put the MRC and UKRI on your CV in the future.

Our success is dependent upon our ability to embrace diversity and draw on the skills, understanding and experience of all our people. We welcome applications from all sections of the community irrespective of gender, race, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, disability or age. As "Disability Confident" employers, we guarantee to interview all applicants with disabilities who meet the minimum criteria for the vacancy.

UKRI supports research in areas that include animal health, agriculture and food security, and bioscience for health which includes research on animals, genetic modification and stem cell research. Whilst you may not have direct involvement in this type of research, you should consider whether this conflicts with your personal values or beliefs.

We will conduct a full and comprehensive pre-employment check as an essential part of the recruitment process on all individuals that are offered a position with UKRI. This will include a security check and an extreme organisations affiliation check.