Research Assistant III - Laboratory of Dr. Joseph Noel

  • Salk Institute for Biological Studies
  • La Jolla, CA 920371002, USA
  • Apr 07, 2022
Full time Biology/Biotechnology/Life Sciences

Job Description

The candidate will lead a team of analytical researchers to design, build and deploy an advanced MS-based platform for the high throughput analysis of plant tissues. The position will develop and deploy mass spectrometry (MS) based, quantitative measurements of plant tissue polymers including but not limited to suberin, lignin and (hemi)cellulose and associated biomarkers for each at high throughput across a variety of row and cover crops to support HPI's CRoPS (CO2 Removal on a Planetary Scale) program. In addition, the Analytical Chemist will, in parallel, develop and deploy quantitative MS-based methods to assess soil carbon content from several different agricultural field plots across the USA.

In this position, the candidate will have the opportunity to develop and improve MS data acquisition, throughput and quantitative interpretation using pyrolysis gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (pyGC-MS) as well as other MS-based modalities to assess biopolymer distributions in plant tissues including shoots and roots.

CRoPS is a multi-disciplinary group of plant and soil scientists headquartered at the Salk Institute focused on implementation of genetic-based, metabolic engineering strategies to rapidly develop important agricultural crop strains capable of drawing down atmospheric carbon on a global scale. Accurate and high throughput MS-based methods are essential to aid in the selection plant varieties with increased quantities of decomposition resistant plant molecules for long term storage of carbon in agricultural soils. 


 (80%) Research & Development of Mass Spectrometry Platform

  •  Develop and deploy mass spectrometry (MS) based, quantitative measurements of plant tissue polymers Performs qualitative and quantitative analyses of organic compounds to determine chemical and physical.
  • Develop and deploy quantitative MS-based methods to assess soil carbon content from several different agricultural field plots across the USA.
  • Conducts research to develop or improve analytical techniques, methodology, procedures, and investigates application of instruments in analysis.
  • Organizes and interprets all data.
  • Provides technical support to run the mass spectrometry platform.
  • Conducts experimental design before use of chromatography and mass spectrometry, assists in the analysis and presentation of results.
  • Conducts measurements of compounds, raw materials, and intermediaries. May also investigate to verify their identity.
  • Conduct research managing a small team of research assistants to aid other CRoPS's team members in their selection of new plant leads for advancement in the CRoPS's pipeline of Salk Ideal PlantTM varieties.
  • Interact, communicate, and problem-solve with a diverse team of research staff across the entire CRoPS program.
  • Lead the presentation of research accomplishments and future aims at internal meetings and with select stakeholders of Salk's HPI program.
  • Participate in the development of research reports and proposals.

(20%) Supervision of Research Support Staff

  • Determines, assigns, and monitors tasks for assigned research staff
  • Oversees work product and provides guidance to staff
  • Responsible for personnel-related activities, including but not limited to recruitment and performance management



  •  5 or more years of relevant experience in analytical chemistry or mass spectrometry, with at least 1 year in a supervisory or leadership role
  •  Experience working with LC-MS and GC-MS instrumentation and data for quantitative measurement of metabolites from complex biological specimens including plant tissues and soil samples


  • Further experience with metabolic modeling, advanced data analyses, and utilization of -omics-based datasets (genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, transcriptomics) is preferred.



  •   Bachelor's degree in a biological science, or related discipline or equivalent.


  •  Advanced degree (Masters or PhD) in Analytical Chemistry, Biological Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Microbiology, or related field or equivalent.



  •  Demonstrated ability to collaborate effectively and supervise a small team of research assistants, with a track record of demonstrating initiative, problem-solving, independent execution of routine research tasks, and ability to learn new concepts and research techniques.
  • Strong analytical and critical thinking skills to identify problems and develop innovative solutions.
  • Must be able to prioritize work and manage multiple, diverse, and competing priorities while meeting deadlines; plan and develop meaningful objectives; and integrate multiple work initiatives into the overall lab and project goals.
  • Must be safety-oriented and comply with safety standards.
  • Must possess excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Must demonstrate tact, good judgment, diplomacy, and flexibility to relate to a diverse group of stakeholders.


  •  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.
  •  Must be willing to work a flexible schedule to support research needs.


This position will be constantly adjusting focus, grasping, hearing, keying, seeing, siting, talking, analyzing, calculating, communicating, reading, writing and working inside.

Application Details

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 Equal Opportunity Employer/Protected Veterans/Individuals with Disabilities


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