View Vacancy -- Electron Microscopy Research Support Officer - Structural Studies - John Briggs - LMB 1216

Open Date
27/11/2019, 12:45
Close Date
01/01/2020, 23:55
MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
The MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) is one of the birthplaces of modern molecular biology and has played an important role in the development of many new techniques, most notably protein crystallography, cryo-electron microscopy, DNA sequencing and monoclonal antibodies.  The LMB has a clear goal of understanding biological processes at the molecular level, with the ultimate aim of using this knowledge to tackle specific problems in human health and disease.  We aim to tackle difficult, long-term problems, which often require investment over many years.

There are four scientific Divisions - Structural Studies, Protein and Nucleic Acid Chemistry, Cell Biology and Neurobiology.  However, scientific collaboration between the different Divisions is extensive.  Scientists are well supported by excellent scientific facilities and by the LMB Operations Group which maintains the core infrastructure and services of the institute.

The LMB provides an unsurpassed environment for both new and established researchers.  Scientists are drawn to the LMB from all over the world, thus creating a lively and international community for the exchange of ideas and technical innovation.
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
£30,914 - £39,381 per annum
Technical & Scientific Professionals
Full Time

Overall purpose:

The MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) has a world-leading Electron Microscopy (EM) Facility including three Titan Krios, two Polara, two other FEG microscopes, a Scios dual-beam and lower-end microscopes.  It has approximately 150 active users applying electron cryomicroscopy and cryo-electron tomography to study important biological problems.  It also hosts research programmes aimed at the development of new hardware and software for cryo-electron microscopy.

The primary purpose of the EM Research Support Officer is to work as part of a team of Scientists who manage, maintain and develop the world-leading EM Research Facility, and provide technical advice and support to users of the facility.

Main duties & Key Responsibilities:

The EM Research Support Officer will:

Provide technical advice, practical advice, and trouble-shooting to Scientists on all microscopes.

Provide training to new scientific users of the facility, and provide technical advice on best-practice for the study of biological structures.

Plan and perform cryo-electron microscopy experiments, and advise and support other Scientists who want to do this.

Take joint responsibility for day-to-day provision of electron microscopes; assisting in maintenance of alignments, addressing and resolving hardware and software problems within an appropriate timeframe.

Take joint responsibility for day-to-day provision of associated EM equipment such as the glow-discharger, vitrobot etc, addressing and resolving hardware and software problems within an appropriate timeframe.

Help to organise the purchase and installation of new or replacement equipment or software as required.

Create and maintain documentation, prepare reports and summarise findings and conclusions.

Help to maintain the user-booking system.

Perform research projects aimed at improving the performance, efficiency and usability of the electron microscopes through modification of software or hardware, in collaboration with MRC-LMB Scientists.

The EM Research Support Officer will be additionally expected to:

Keep up to date with scientific and technical developments in the field, proposing or implementing changes of direction as necessary.

Introduce and apply new techniques and research methodologies across a wide range of scientific disciplines.

Contribute to lab-wide discussions on developments within the laboratory, particularly in the use of new techniques.

Have excellent interpersonal skills and interact effectively with a wide range of staff, Students and others to ensure the smooth running of research.

Working relationships:

Work in a team with the EM Facilities Manager the EM Engineer and the other EM Research Support Officers.  The facility is overseen by a Group Leader, currently John Briggs.  The post-holder will liaise with other Group Leaders, Research Support staff, Post-Doctoral Scientists and Students across the LMB and with external collaborators.  Use of the facility is driven by academic demand.

Additional information:

The above lists are not exhaustive and you are required to undertake such duties as may reasonably be requested within the scope of the post.  All employees are required to act professionally, co-operatively and flexibly in line with the requirements of the post and the MRC.

Education / qualifications / training required:

Either: a PhD in biology, engineering, physics, materials sciences or related subject,
or: an equivalent level of experience or training in a relevant area.

Previous work experience required:

•    Extensive experience in the operation of transmission electron microscopes including Titan Krios.
•    Extensive experience in the use of cryo-electron microscopy.
•    Experience in the preparation of samples for cryo-electron microscopy.
•    Experience in the use of electron tomography.
•    Experience in correlative light and electron microscopy and/or cryo FIB-milling.
•    Experience in training new microscope users.
•    Experience in the provision of user support.
•    Experience in the use of image processing tools for the determination of the structures of biological samples from cryo-electron microscopy data.

•    Experience in the maintenance and repair of management of electron microscopes.
•    Experience in the use / operation of Volta Phase Plate.

Knowledge and experience:

Technical skills
•    Excellent knowledge of transmission electron microscopy.
•    Good IT skills, including scripting.
•    Knowledge of the use of cryo-electron microscopy for the determination of the structures of biological samples.
•    Good knowledge of image processing packages for electron microscopy.

•    Experience in the design of technical instrumentation.

Creativity and initiative
•    Proven skills in working independently to solve problems.

•    Has experience in creative and insightful trouble-shooting of complex problems.
•    Has developed new protocols or new methodologies in technical fields.  

Independent working
•    The ability to self-motivate, to organize work-time efficiently and to work accurately using a defined protocol.
•    Ability to independently carry out scientific experimental programme, including design, analysis and write-up.

•    Able to acquire new techniques quickly and independently.
•    Has experience of training others "on the job".

Verbal and written communication skills
•    Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
•    Experience in writing reports on work performed.
•    The ability to communicate at different levels of technical complexity with both novice and advanced users, as well as experts including Service Engineers.

•    Experience in writing protocols or help-sheets.

Personal skills / behaviours / qualities:

•    Strong skills and experience in working collaboratively as a member of a team.

•    Experience in liaising with users / customers.
•    Ability to multitask in a dynamic environment. 
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.