Research Assistant/Research Associate in Microbial Genetics within Water Systems

Newcastle University
Newcastle, United Kingdom
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
University/Academia/Research/Think tank
Experience Level: 
Not Specified
Degree Required: 
Bachelor's (Or Equivalent)


Please note: this job post has expired! To the best of our knowledge, this job is no longer available and this page remains here for archival purposes only.

We are a world class research-intensive university. We deliver teaching and learning of the highest quality. We play a leading role in economic, social and cultural development of the North East of England. Attracting and retaining high-calibre people is fundamental to our continued success.

Salary: Research Assistant: £28,331 - £30,046 per annum

            Research Associate: £30,942 - £31,866 per nnum

Closing Date: 3 January 2021

The Role

This is an exciting opportunity for 24-month post funded by the UK-India NERC project “AMRflows: antimicrobials and resistance from manufacturing flows to people: Joined up experiments, mathematical modelling and risk analysis”.  AMRflows will combine field sampling, mesocosm and laboratory studies, and mathematical modelling to quantify resistance gene and plasmid transfer dynamics in antimicrobial resistance (AMR) bacteria in Indian rivers receiving wastes from pharmaceutical facilities. The project’s goal is to perform quantitative risk analysis to develop optimal intervention strategies. 

You will have skills and experience in molecular ecology techniques, flow cytometry, and bioinformatics and biostatistical analysis, ideally within a water-engineering context. You will be based in the School of Engineering’s Environmental Engineering Group but collaborate with microbial genetics experts at the Centre for Cell Biology at Newcastle University; modellers and bioinformatics experts at the University of Birmingham; and experts in risk assessment at the James Hutton Institute. It will be lab-based in the UK, although the you will assist fieldwork in India (travel permitting) to gain contextual understanding of their lab work.  You will develop novel microbial genetic approaches for detecting mobile genetic element (MGEs) in natural and engineered ecosystems using conventional culture methods, a range of advanced molecular techniques, and flow cytometry. The work will tag plasmids and donor bacteria to quantify AMR gene transfer and frequency under nutritional conditions relevant to Indian rivers. You will provide data to parameterise micro- and macro-scale numerical models developed by others within the project.

AMRflows includes 13 multidisciplinary co-investigators from six universities in the UK and India, therefore evident ability to collaborating and learn across social contexts and other disciplines is essential. You will allow the candidate to their research skills, and to educate collaborators about your specialisation. An ability to communicate your results to scientific and lay audiences is essential as well as to write clearly, communicate orally, and think “outside of the box”. Creative experimental design and careful data curation are expected.

This post is full time, fixed term for 24 months, or until the current project end date on the 31/10/2022, whichever is soonest.

Informal enquiries please contact .

Key Accountabilities

  • Develop new assays for quantifying horizontal gene transfer (HGT) of antibiotic resistance genes in microbial communities under different habitat and ecological conditions pertinent to Indian rivers
  • Performing bioreactor experiments simulating such conditions, using the assays to quantify HGT frequencies, rates, and donor-recipients as a function of environmental factors
  • In collaboration with the wider team, provide rate and frequency data to parameterise cell-level and hydrologic model development to predict HGT and AMR exposure risks in Indian rivers
  • Assist in field sampling in India and provide input to modellers, bioinformaticians, and field researchers on microbial aspects of AMR fate within rivers
  • Report the findings in an accessible form to experts and non-experts; e.g. guide on relationships between HGT and donor-recipients under different environmental conditions
  • To present information on research progress and outcomes at project meetings
  • To write up results from your own research activity and provide input to the wider research project, in a variety of forms (reports, journal articles, chapters)
  • To comply with University policies, including financial regulations, equal opportunities policy, Health & Safety policy, promoting race equality policy, information systems security policy, data security, intellectual property rights and safeguarding policies
  • To engage in personal, professional and career development, to enhance both specialist and transferable skills in accordance with desired career trajectory
  • To provide training for researchers within and beyond the project on methods being developed, including providing tutoring to junior students
  • To carry out other duties, commensurate with the grade of the post, as requested by the project

The Person  (Essential)

Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • Knowledge of nucleic acid extraction, qPCR, plasmid expression systems, and chromosomal tagging
  • Experience analysing nucleic acid sequencing data, including 16S or epic-PCR data
  • Ability to develop and implement computational analysis related to molecular and microbial data
  • Track record of peer reviewed publications in internationally recognised journals and presentation of work to the wider research community


  • Experience with flow cytometry and Fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS)
  • Experience of work in water and wastewater systems
  • Experience of collaborative or consortium working with academic and stakeholder partners

Attributes and Behaviour 

  • Excellent communication skills, both written and verbal; ability and willingness to communicate your research at national and international conferences, to fellow academics in other disciplines and to stakeholders
  • Excellent interpersonal skills to build trust with collaborating groups
  • Good planning, organisational, data and time management, and curation skills
  • Demonstration of ambition and achievement
  • Willingness to travel to India to assist in the fieldwork, as needed


  • A good Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in a relevant subject; e.g. microbiology, microbial genetics, environmental science or engineering, or related field
  • PhD for Associate level (or close to completion for Assistant level) focussed in microbiology or microbial genetics related to environmental systems or related area 

Newcastle University is committed to being a fully inclusive Global University which actively recruits, supports and retains staff from all sectors of society.  We value diversity as well as celebrate, support and thrive on the contributions of all our employees and the communities they represent.  We are proud to be an equal opportunities employer and encourage applications from everybody, regardless of race, sex, ethnicity, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, age, disability, gender identity, marital status/civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, as well as being open to flexible working practices.

The University holds a silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of our good employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.  The University also holds the HR Excellence in Research award for our work to support the career development of our researchers, and is a member of the Euraxess initiative supporting researchers in Europe.

Please be advised that due to the minimum salary thresholds imposed by the UKVI, this post may not qualify for University sponsorship under Tier 2 of the points based system.

Requisition ID: 5454