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View Vacancy -- Electron Microscopy (EM) Engineer - Structural Studies - EM Facility - LMB 702

Open Date
02/11/2017, 12:00
Close Date
07/12/2017, 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 X-ray crystallography of proteins, 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.

With the new laboratory 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 - 3
£37,769 - £51,023
Full Time
Overall purpose:

The 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 Engineer is to maintain and improve the world-leading EM facility through service, maintenance, optimization and development of microscope hardware and software. You will also provide expertise, advice and support to other members of the Laboratory.

Main duties & Key Responsibilities:

To collaborate with MRC-LMB scientists on research projects aimed at improving the performance, efficiency and usability of the electron microscopes through modification of software or hardware. To sustain and steer such projects as appropriate.

To maintain and service microscope hardware and software, and maintain the alignment and condition of the microscopes.

To establish and implement a defined maintenance programme, and performance assessment programme for electron microscopes, configuring and installing new instrumentation and software as required.

To provide high-level assistance and trouble-shooting to microscope users and to develop “best-practice” protocols for microscope use.

To arrange and facilitate service engineer visits. This will include interacting with Engineers from microscope manufacturers including Thermo Fischer (formerly FEI) to keep the microscopes maintained under optimal conditions. You will also work closely with the microscope companies to maintain an up-to-date knowledge of microscope maintenance and service.

To interact with the Research Support Officers and the EM facility manager to ensure the smooth operation of the EM facility.

You will additionally be expected to:

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

Maintain a deep personal knowledge of the systems within the EM facility.

Introduce, apply and develop new techniques across a wide range of disciplines.

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

Interact effectively with a wide range of Staff, Students and others to ensure the smooth running of research.

Take on other communal responsibilities contributing to the smooth running of research.

Working relationships:

You will work under the Management of the EM Facilities Manager Shaoxia Chen, alongside two EM Research Support Officers. The Facility is overseen by group leaders, currently Richard Henderson and Jan Lowe. You 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:

Essential: The equivalent of four years training in the operation and maintenance of transmission electron microscopes or a PhD in biology, engineering, physics, materials sciences or related subject, combined with extensive experience in the operation and maintenance of transmission electron microscopes.

Previous work experience required:

•    Substantial experience in the maintenance, repair and operation of transmission electron microscopes.
•    Excellent knowledge of transmission electron microscopy including a deep understanding of electron optics, vacuum systems and software.
•    Experience in the use of cryo-electron microscopy.
•    Substantial experience in the provision of user support.
•    Extensive experience working with high-end transmission electron microscopes manufactured by FEI or Thermo Fisher, or extensive experience working with high-end transmission electron microscopes from another manufacture combined with excellent knowledge of cryo-electron microscopy.

•    Detailed knowledge of the use of cryo-electron microscopy for the determination of the structures of biological samples.
•    Detailed knowledge of software used to control electron microscopes.

Knowledge and experience:

Creativity and initiative
Essential: Experience working independently in creative and insightful way to trouble-shoot complex problems.
Desirable: Has developed new techniques/methodologies in the area of electron microscopy, which have added value to scientific work.

Independent working
•    Ability to work independently, including prioritizing, planning, assessing and recording of work performed.
•    Able to acquire new techniques quickly and independently.
•    The ability to self-motivate, to organize work-time efficiently and to perform work accurately using a defined protocol.
•    Has experience of training others "on the job".
•    Experience working in an environment where cutting-edge research is performed.
•    Experience working with users who are performing cutting-edge research.

Verbal and written communication skills
•    Experience in writing reports on work performed.
•    Ability to write protocols and help-sheets in English.

Desirable: Experience in giving presentations, both written and oral.

Personal skills / behaviours / qualities:

•    Excellent standards of professional conduct.
•    Excellent interpersonal and communication skills with the ability to communicate at all levels of technical complexity with both novice and advanced users, as well as experts including Service Engineers.
•    Strong skills and experience in working collaboratively as a member of a team.
•    Excellent time management, with an ability to be self-motivated, while working in a small team and having to re-prioritise.

From April 2018, the MRC will be part of UK Research and Innovation. UK Research and Innovation will bring together the seven Research Councils, Innovate UK and a new organisation, Research England. The vision for the new organisation is to be the best research and innovation organisation in the world. From 1 April 2018 your employer will be UK Research and Innovation. More information can be found online .

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.

Final appointments will be subject to pre-employment screening.

This opportunity is closed to applications.