Research Assistant III - Laboratory of Genetics, Dr. Dmitry Lyumkis

  • Salk Institute for Biological Studies
  • La Jolla, CA, USA
  • Apr 19, 2021
Full time Biology/Biotechnology/Life Sciences

Job Description

Application Instructions:

Employment History Include your last ten (10) years of employment history, or length of your employment history if less, including all position (even those that are not relevant to this position) and periods of unemployment. Incomplete information could disqualify you from further consideration.


The Research Assistant III position will utilize high-end equipment for cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), assist users with data collection and analyses, train members of the laboratory in microscopy-related techniques, and manage the laboratory's activities in the facility. The employee will be the intermediary to the cryo-EM facility for the laboratory and will interact closely with group members as well as the general facility manager. A central component will be the day-to-day operation of instruments, which includes multiple electron microscopes, a cryo-FIB milling microscope, a cryo-fluorescence microscope, and ancillary equipment. The research work will be performed with some supervision from postdoctoral associates, and there may be an independent research component, if desired. The overall goal of the research is to decipher macromolecular structures isolated from and inside of their native cellular environment. A secondary component will involve lab support, including managing space and laboratory organization, inventory, and other administrative duties. A successful candidate will balance working as part of diverse research team, performing administrative duties, and dedicating part of their time to independent projects.


(50%) Electron Microscopy Techniques

  • Operate electron microscopes, including directly interfacing with laboratory members and the facility manager
  • Collect cryo-electron microscopy data on the Titan Krios, Talos Arctica, Talos side-entry, F20, and T12 microscopes using automated data acquisition software (Leginon or SerialEM). Data collection will include workflows for both single-particle and tomographic acquisition.
  • Operate ancillary equipment for cryo-EM, such as the Vitrobot, manual blotter, carbon coater, plasma cleaner, etc, in support of single-particle electron microscopy workflows.
  • Employ various vitrification techniques for freezing cells and preparing cellular specimens for FIB milling.
  • Operate FIB milling instrument for cutting into different cell types and preparing lamellae samples for cryo-ET.

 (30%) Lab Support

  •  Train and assist lab personnel on research techniques and use of laboratory equipment, including for sample preparation, data collection, and image processing. Assist with general problem solving associated with electron microscopy workflows.
  • Attend weekly Monday morning meetings at the cryo-EM facility. Formally update the group about microscopes at weekly Wednesday group meetings and informally as necessary.
  • Interface regularly with the facility manager and convey relevant information to the laboratory
  • Assist with general management of laboratory space and operations within the electron microscopy facility
  • Provide broader operational support to the facility, including, but not limited to laboratory organization, supply maintenance, compliance with documentation requirements, and other activities, as assigned
  • Maintain laboratory equipment, including the cryo-holder, storage dewars, and an appropriate inventory of supplies
  • Perform quality control of reagents as needed.
  • Maintain laboratory safety records, assist with hazardous and biohazardous waste disposal.

 (20%) Computational Image Processing Techniques

  •  Utilize existing workflows for single-particle image processing to analyze and process data acquired on the electron microscopes
  • Explore different strategies for computational data analysis of single-particle and/or cryo-ET data, including utilizing different software, analysis schemes, etc.
  • Interpret cryo-EM reconstruction data using molecular models



  •  Minimum 4 years of relevant experience or equivalent combination of education and experience in laboratory techniques.
  • Theoretical knowledge of microscopy
  • Practical hands-on knowledge of electron microscopy
  • Proficient in the operation of standard lab equipment and computer hardware/software


  • Practical hands-on experience with computational image analysis techniques



  •  Bachelor's degree in biological sciences, engineering, or related field or equivalent relevant work experience.


  •  Master's degree or PhD in biological sciences, engineering, or related field




  • Theoretical and hands on knowledge of microscopy techniques, especially electron microscopy.
  • Demonstrated knowledge and experience in researching information and analyzing data to arrive at valid conclusions.
  • Organized, effective at multitasking, adept at juggling changing priorities and able to prioritize.
  • Proven ability to work both independently and also as part of a collaborative team.
  • Excellent communication skills, both oral and written.
  • Strong interpersonal skills, including tact, diplomacy, and flexibility.
  • Demonstrated ability to interact effectively with diverse groups, a people person. Demonstrated skill in establishing and maintaining effective working relationships with personnel at all levels.
  • Willing to learn and teach others



  • Must be able to work a flexible schedule and extended hours as needed to support research needs.
  • Must be willing to work in an animal-related research environment.
  • Satisfactory completion of the Institute's background investigation.
  • Must be willing to sign a confidentiality agreement.


This position requires constant adjusting focus, seeing, sitting, and working inside. 

Application Details

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 Equal Opportunity Employer/Protected Veterans/Individuals with Disabilities


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