We are looking for a Postdoctoral Research Associate with skills in soil microbial ecology, and molecular techniques, to join the group of Prof. Thorunn Helgason in the School of Biological Sciences, Institute for Ecology and Evolution.

The Opportunity: Intensification in agriculture has led to significant depreciation in organic matter and biodiversity. Soils are one of our most threatened ecosystems, and it is an urgent priority to understand how to manage and conserve them, while maintaining agricultural productivity

From 2015 to 2020, Prof Helgason’s group were involved with two Soil Security Programme consortium grants, SoilBioHedge and MycoRhizaSoil. These farm-scale experiments studied the response of crop genotypes, arbuscular mycorrhizal inoculation, and soil microbial and earthworm communities to ley/fallow and minimum tillage conservation agriculture interventions. These field scale, designed experiments with replication are fully archived and have significant metadata associated with them, held by collaborators at the Universities of Leeds, York and Sheffield.

You will have access to Illumina MiSeq amplicon sequence data from both projects, and to the soil and plant samples archived from them. You will complete the analysis of the existing data and prepare it for publication, using and developing your skills in community ecology and bioinformatics analysis. You will then follow this up to develop your own area of research using the sample archive. You will use and develop your skills in molecular ecology, using, for example, high throughput sequencing and qPCR to further our knowledge of the structure and function of the microbial communities in conservation agriculture, and how they may contribute to maintaining productivity.

This is an exciting opportunity for an enthusiastic and creative early career researcher to build a research and publication profile in the area of molecular microbial ecology. You will be supported in developing an area of independent research that will further your career development.  

Your skills and attributes for success:

  • A PhD or equivalent experience in molecular microbial ecology
  • An enthusiasm for developing new laboratory and analytical skills
  • A creative thinker with a desire to develop research with impact
  • A real interest and enthusiasm for below ground ecology and its relevance to soil health and food security
  • Experience of DNA work in environmental samples, and how to troubleshoot them.

As a valued member of our team you can expect:

An exciting, positive, creative, challenging and rewarding place to work. We give you support, nurture your talent and reward success. You will benefit from a competitive reward package and a wide range of staff benefits, which includes a generous holiday entitlement, a defined benefits pension scheme, staff discounts, family friendly initiatives, flexible working and much more. Access our staff benefits page for further information and use our reward calculator to find out the total value of pay and benefits provided.

The University of Edinburgh holds a Silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of our commitment to advance gender equality in higher education. We are members of the Race Equality Charter and we are also Stonewall Scotland Diversity Champions, actively promoting LGBT equality.

If invited for interview you will be required to evidence your right to work in the UK. Further information is available on our Right to Work webpages (opens new browser tab).

The University is able to sponsor the employment of international workers in this role.  If successful, an international applicant requiring sponsorship to work in the UK will need to satisfy the UK Home Office’s English Language requirements and apply for and secure a Skilled Worker Visa.

About Us

As a world-leading research-intensive University, we are here to address tomorrow’s greatest challenges. Between now and 2030 we will do that with a values-led approach to teaching, research and innovation, and through the strength of our relationships, both locally and globally.

About the Team

As the modern inheritors of our 400-year-old reputation for excellence, our staff and students contribute to a vibrant academic community whose visions are shaping tomorrow’s world. The School of Biological Sciences is at the leading edge in teaching, research and innovation. Independent rankings such as the Times Higher Education consistently place us amongst the top 25 universities in the world for biological sciences. We aim to ensure that our culture and systems support flexible and family-friendly working and to recognise and value diversity across all our staff and students.

The School has an active programme offering support and professional development opportunities for all staff. We place a particular focus on development for early-career researchers (postgraduate and postdoctoral research staff and personal fellowship holders), offering mentoring and an active ‘BioDocSoc’ organisation that brings together researchers for networking, events and training opportunities.  The School of Biological Sciences holds a Silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of our commitment to advance the representation of women in science, mathematics, engineering and technology.

Click here for a copy of the full job description.

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