15P-12 Research Scientist

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Amar Annamalai
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15P-12 Research Scientist

15P-12 Research Scientist : Pirbright, Surrey, GU24 0NF, United Kingdom

The Pirbright Institute is a unique national centre that works through its highly innovative fundamental and applied bioscience to enhance the UK capability to contain, control, and eliminate viral diseases of animals and viruses that spread from animals to humans. We thereby support the competitiveness of UK livestock and poultry producers, and improve the health and quality of life of both animals and people.

The Pirbright Institute is currently situated on two campuses, Pirbright Laboratory in Surrey and Compton Laboratory in Berkshire. The process of transferring Compton Laboratory activities to Pirbright is underway.

This post is based at Pirbright.
This position is funded through an EU Horizon 2020 grant “Novel biocontrol agents for insect pests from neuroendocrinology”. Neuropeptides are potent regulators of many aspects of insect physiology and manipulating them potentially allows new methods for controlling pest insects. The grant is to a consortium of 14 academic, government and commercial institutions, primarily European, with expertise to address this topic from several directions.

The Pirbright component, and hence this holder of this position, will focus on translational synthetic biology – in vivo applications and analysis through the expression of selected neuropeptides in transgenic insects. The initial model organism will be the diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella, a small, easily reared, short-generation-time insect of considerable economic importance. We aim to extend the current state of the art by engineering conditional non-cell-autonomous phenotypes based on expression of selected neuropeptides. At first we will aim for conditional lethality, for potential use in ‘sterile-male’ genetic control systems (see Alphey, Ann Rev Ent 2014 59:205-224); later we will engineer other behavioural and physiological phenotypes, based on emerging data from other consortium members regarding specific neuropeptides. Though the primary purpose is applied, the development of conditional-expression systems for selected neuropeptides in relevant pest insects will also provide a powerful tool for improving our understanding of these key signalling molecules.

The post-holder will report to the Head of Arthropod Genetics, with day-to-day supervision from the senior postdoc for this project. The post-holder will be expected to develop expertise in insect rearing, colony maintenance, genetic transformation (transgenesis) and the analysis of transgenic insect strains. With increasing experience, the post-holder will play a key role in training and supervising additional members of the Group, including junior research staff, technicians and students whether directly engaged in this specific project or on other projects in the Group. The post-holder will also be expected to assist with preparation of data and other reporting, for example for scientific publications and for reporting within the consortium and to funding agencies.

The successful applicant’s work will focus on the development of new tools and strategies for the genetic control of pest insects. Duties and responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
• Insect genetic studies, including
o Rearing and colony maintenance
o Insect transgenesis (micro-injection of DNA and associated procedures)
o Phenotypic analysis including fitness studies etc.
• Laboratory maintenance
• Molecular biology, including plasmid preparation
• Communicating progress and data internally; assisting with external reporting
• Assisting with training of other staff and students as required
• Project management and coordination with other consortium members

This job description is only an outline of the tasks, responsibilities and outcomes required of the role. The jobholder will carry out any other duties as may be reasonably required by his/her line manager. The job description and personal specification may be reviewed on an ongoing basis in accordance with the changing needs of the Human Resources department and The Pirbright Institute.

All employees shall actively participate in the Institute-wide quality assurance system in conjunction with the Institute’s Quality Manager. Employees are also expected to safeguard their own health and safety and security by following policies and all employees are responsible for the Health and Safety and security of staff under their management.

The post is graded at a Band C and is a limited term contract with funding until 31st May 2018. The salary is £27,219 per annum depending on qualifications and experience. This is a full time role of 37 hours per week.

Qualifying staff will automatically be enrolled into the Pirbright Institute Group Personal Pension Scheme (subject to age and earnings) which is run by Aviva. Those staff who do not immediately qualify will be given an opportunity to opt into the scheme. Shortly after commencing employment members of staff that have been auto-enrolled will receive separate information outlining the options open to them and the scheme details. This will be sent from the pension provider. The Institute does not make contributions to other personal pension schemes.

Annual leave is 25 days pro rata on appointment plus 10.5 days pro rata public and privilege holidays. The Institute has a subsidised child care scheme, staff restaurant and free parking.

• Any offer of employment will be subject to security screening, health clearance and receipt of satisfactory references.
• The Institute is engaged in research work on a number of virus diseases of livestock, several of which are highly infectious to livestock, compliance with the Disease Security Regulations is an essential requirement of employment. Where disease agents of birds and other domestic animals are being studied specific restrictions to contact with these species may apply off site/ at home. Such restrictions will be applied on a case by case basis subject to on the individual’s work portfolio and access to relevant facility areas. In case of poultry and horses it may require 3-5 days of no contact after handling/having contact with these pathogens and materials potentially carrying these agents.
• For those applicants where English is not their first language, please note that the successful applicant must be able to prove their ability to communicate in English. The required standard for the Pirbright Institute has been set as an overall mark of 7.0 in the IELTS qualification (with no lower than 7.0 for listening and reading, no lower than 6.5 for speaking and no lower than 6.0 for writing) or the equivalent in an alternative qualification

Closing date: 22nd March 2015
Interview to be held on: TBC

It is an Institute policy to use an online application form, please ensure that you complete an application form as CVs will not be accepted alone.
Informal enquiries may be addressed to Professor Luke Alphey at luke.alphey@pirbright.ac.uk
To view or apply for this vacancy please visit The Pirbright Institute vacancy website, where an application form and further details can be found: http://www.pirbright.ac.uk/jobs/Jobs.aspx (job reference 15P-12).
Please send applications to:
Human Resources, The Pirbright Institute, Pirbright, Surrey, GU24 0NF
Email: pirbright.hr@pirbright.ac.uk

If you are unable to apply on-line, please contact The Pirbright Institute by telephone on 01483 232441 and ask for the Human Resources department.

Qualifications and Experience
• A Bachelor’s degree or equivalent in a relevant branch of biosciences (s)
• Significant bench experience in a recognised R&D environment (s)
• Experience of insect research (s)
• Enthusiasm for working with insects (i)
• Experience of plasmid design and construction (i)
• Experience of training (i)
Specific skills
• Evidence of experience in and enthusiasm for scientific research (i)
• Evidence of excellent oral and written communication skills, including the ability to communicate effectively (i)
• Evidence of ability to work effectively in a team (i)
• Evidence of networking and influencing skills and the ability to build effective collaborative links (i)
Personal Skills
• Time management skills (i)
• Reliability under pressure (i)
• Decision making and problem solving skills (i)
Special Requirements
• Capacity to travel extensively within UK and overseas, with long hours and occasional overnight or longer stays (i)