Senior Scientist in Automation (10315)

The Rosalind Franklin Institute is a national research centre, funded by the UK government through UK Research and Innovation, dedicated to bringing about transformative changes in life science through interdisciplinary research and technology. 

We are currently seeking a highly motivated senior scientist to join our Structural Biology theme at the Rosalind Franklin Institute. Building on recent work demonstrating the use of focused ion beams (FIB) and scanning electron microscopes (SEM) to image cells and tissues (DOIs: 10.1038/s41467-023-36372-9; 10.1101/2022.09.21.508877), we are looking to recruit a computational expert to develop and apply AI and automation of cryogenic FIB/SEM and lift-out of biological specimens for structural biology. This will enable imaging high volumes of lamella of multicellular specimens, implemented alongside efforts to streamline high-precision targeting in 3D and structure determination and facilitate attempts to make the technique more widely applicable.

This post builds on recent success in obtaining funding for imaging tissues across scale and would be closely tied to projects between structural biology and artificial intelligence themes. The post is aimed at individuals keen to bring a combination of computer science, mathematics, and material science to address questions that bridge molecular-scale imaging with high throughput and on a grand scale. The ideal candidate would have a firm grasp on developing algorithms in python, C++ or other coding languages, and would be able to apply this to routines on advanced electron microscopes at the Franklin.

Role overview

Current in-situ structural biology workflows for cryoET in tissue are laborious, requiring individuals to remain at the side of the microscope. This is due to these capabilities being in their infancy, with critical parameters being established and targeting in bulk materials requiring methods able to recognise and identify regions of interest. At the Franklin, we are establishing workflows capable of investigating multiple tissue samples per day and generating sections able to be thinned to electron transparency. You will develop this working closely with researchers at the Franklin enabling the examination of disease-relevant observations in-situ using multi-modal imaging to streamline the targeting of specific regions of interest, and optimising protocols for ion beam milling.

About You

Candidates must hold a post-graduate qualification/PhD (or equivalent experience) in computational sciences, mathematics, physics, material sciences, or another relevant subject. We are looking for candidates with a demonstrated ability to deliver project outputs (publications, datasets, patents etc) in a timely manner, the ability to work independently and as part of an interdisciplinary team, as well as strong organisational and communication skills. Experience with formulating research questions and devising strategies to address these questions is essential for this role.

This post would be ideal for a candidate who has a keen computational science or mathematical mind, but who is keen to develop their skills and apply them to the development of tools enabling an assessment of biology on the molecular scale. The ideal candidate would drive developments of a robust, bespoke platform for automated sample preparation (lift-out), targeting using multimodal imaging (SEM/fluorescence microscopy) approaches and data annotation (segmentation and sub volume averaging). They will enable projects and integrate this into plasma ion and electron microscopy technologies at the institute. The successful candidate would be expected to make significant intellectual contributions to the institute/group and provide mentorship for junior researchers. In return, the successful candidate will be afforded training in high end (cryo) SEM and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) methods, with access to latest and beyond state of art equipment.

The institute maintains several high-end transmission electron microscopes with emergent/new technologies, 2 florescence integrated plasma focused ion beam scanning electron microscopes, 2 (cryo) confocal microscopes and light sheet developments as well as other ancillary microscopes/equipment. The institute boasts plentiful computational resources, with access to GPU/CPU clusters and access to national high-performance compute (Baskerville HPC, Birmingham).


You will:

  • Develop new automation programs for cryo lift-out and multimodal targeting (serial FIB/SEM and fluorescence microscopy)
  • Be a focal point of advice and supervision for junior researchers in in-situ structural methods.

In return we offer:

  • 25 days holidays plus bank holidays and Christmas holiday shutdown
  • Generous pension scheme (employer’s contribution currently up to 18%)
  • Group Life Assurance (also known as Group Life Insurance or Death in Service)
  • Hub building with state-of-the-art laboratories
  • Training and development opportunities for staff at all levels
  • Bus pass discount scheme and good transport links to Oxford and surrounding areas
  • Cycle to Work Scheme
  • Access to employee discount platform (Perkbox)
  • Occupational Health and wellbeing support including Employee Assistance (24/7 support and counselling)
  • Health Cash Plan
  • Subsidised canteen and food outlets on campus
  • Free on-site parking
  • Campus location in beautiful countryside with social and sports clubs open to staff

Before submitting your application please ensure you read the Job Information Pack for full details of this role on our website.

About us: The Rosalind Franklin Institute is a new national Research Centre, funded by the UK government through UK Research and Innovation, dedicated to bringing about transformative changes in life science through interdisciplinary research and technology.

Location: The Franklin is based in Harwell Campus, UK’s innovation hub and well-established as one of the leading science and innovation campuses in Europe. 

The Franklin’s underlying aim is to produce the best science for research today, and this means resolutely embracing a diverse team, who have a wide range of experiences, skills and knowledge to push forward on the innovative work our institution delivers. Both our work and our institution are better for it. For further information, view our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy. 

At the Rosalind Franklin Institute we welcome applications from all around the world!

To be considered for this role, please send a CV and cover letter through explaining why you think you are the right person for this job. Please including information about your education and work experience.

Closing date for applications is 23:59 on Sunday 3rd March 2024; however, we reserve the right to close this vacancy earlier if we find the right candidate.

Applicants should refer to our Candidate Privacy Policy

Closing date: 
Sunday, March 3, 2024
Originating organisation: