Senior/Laboratory Research Scientist

In the Crick's Debenedictis E |Research Group.

Applies an in-depth knowledge of research, technical or other scientific practices, methods and procedures gained through either experience and/or formal academic qualifications and applies this knowledge to provide a range of specialist activities. Senior Laboratory Research Scientist is the level at which careers in this functional family typically stabilise.
Deadline for applications has passed.

Key information

Job reference
From £36,500 per annum with benefits, subject to skills and experience
Applications closed
13 September 2022, 23:59 BST
Hours per week
36 (full time)
Posted 01 September 2022

Senior/Laboratory Research Scientist – Biodesign Laboratory

Reports to: Erika DeBenedictis, Group Leader

This is a full-time permanent position on Crick terms and conditions of employment. 


This position is for a fixed-term Senior/Laboratory Research Scientist (S/LRS) to help establish the Biodesign Laboratory led by Erika DeBenedictis. The postholder will support establishing a laboratory that develops next-generation bioengineering techniques that combine machine learning and robotics-accelerated evolution. In addition to general tasks in organizing the laboratory infrastructure, the LRS is expected to implement molecular, bacterial, and bacteriophage biology workflows in the laboratory, including cloning, conducting PRANCE continuous evolution experiments and analyzing engineered proteins. The Start-up LRS will work closely with the hub team and their quadrant manager to ensure smooth integration of the group at the Crick. Suitable candidates should have a strong background in molecular biology, microbiology, and laboratory automation. Experience in structure biology is desirable.

Project summary

The Biodesign Laboratory works at the interface between high-throughput experimental biology and big-data computation. Our goal is to make bioengineering as robust, quantitative, and predictable as physical engineering. By using modern techniques in automation, machine learning, and molecular approaches, we can surface and interpret large datasets about biological systems to improve engineering outcomes. The lab will launch with projects focused on allosteric protein engineering and chassis organism engineering. The LRS will have the opportunity to work on one or both of these projects.

Allosteric protein engineering: Our computational protein engineering capabilities today are largely limited to designing rigid proteins. We will use modern structure prediction methods (Alphafold II, Rosetta) and robotics-accelerated evolution (PRANCE) to design and evolve allosteric proteins that adopt multiple conformations, such as a CRISPR-for-the-epigenome.

Chassis organism engineering: The organisms we see on Earth occupy a tiny fraction of possible chemical space, and can inhabit only a small fraction of possible environments. We aim to engineer organisms with novel genetic codes that can be safely used in extreme environments, i.e. biocontained microbes that are adapted for use on Mars.

Key responsibilities

These include but are not limited to:

  • Initial establishment of the Biodesign Laboratory infrastructure: equipment, workspace, inventory, procurement etc. Coordinating lab set-up with the relevant quadrant manager

  • Management of lab, instruments and supplies on a daily basis

  • Establishment of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for common experiments and equipment use

  • Independently leading the research and development of novel methods, such as new measurement assays or selections

  • Plasmid and bacteriophage cloning

  • Conducting PRANCE Continuous Evolution experiments, including equipment setup, maintenance for bioreactors, and management of laboratory automation

  • Working with laboratory automation to characterize evolved proteins and organisms at scale

  • Data analysis and presentation. Preparing and delivering research presentations

  • Training new lab members in SOPs

  • Assisting in the interviewing and hiring of new lab members

  • Assisting in writing grants and research papers, and in preparing presentations

  • Assuming day-to-day responsibilities for lab management when the group leader is unavailable.

  • Encouragement of a scientific curiosity and technical rigor in the lab’s culture.

Key experience and competencies 

The post holder should embody and demonstrate our core Crick values: bold, imaginative, open, dynamic and collegial, in addition to the following:


Qualifications, experience and competencies:

  • Higher education degree in bioengineering, molecular biology or similar 

  • Experience in molecular biology (cloning, recombinant protein production) and next-generation sequencing.

  • Demonstrable organizational skills and attention to detail, with the ability to prioritize own workload.

  • Proven experience of setting up SOPs and training new lab members on them

  • Excellent interpersonal skills and a willingness to learn new skills and teach these to others


Qualifications, experience and competencies:

  • Experience with laboratory automation

  • Experience with directed evolution and protein engineering

  • Experience with protein production and purification

  • Experience with non-model organisms or bacteriophage