Research Assistant III, Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory, Dr. Julie Law

  • Salk Institute for Biological Studies
  • La Jolla, CA 920371002, USA
  • Apr 07, 2022
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 positions (even those that are not relevant to this position) and periods of unemployment. Incomplete information could disqualify you from further consideration.

Job location is in Salk North  East (Torrey Pines)


The CO2 Removal on a Planetary Scale (CRoPS) project aims to develop crop plants that sequester more carbon via extensive root systems containing recalcitrant carbon polymers to fight climate change. A major component of this research is to conduct genetic and genomic analysis to identify and understand traits relevant for this project.

The Research Assistant III (RAIII) will work with other members of the CRoPS project and with the Law laboratory to assess the roles of gene regulatory networks in modulating the accumulation of root bio-polymers. The RAIII will work with and manage a 2-3 person team responsible for conducting cloning and CRISPR editing experiments and for generating, propagating, and aiding in the phenotyping of transgenic plants. The RAIII will also participate in the preparation of various types of Illumina sequencing libraries to study plant transcriptomes and identify gene regulator networks. While these experiments will be done primarily in the plant model Arabidopsis thaliana, once lines with increased root traits are identified, the RAIII may also oversee and aid in the generation of constructs needed for creating transgenic crop plants. 

The RAIII will conduct scientific research (bench work), manage multiple projects, analyze data, and report findings as needed. Specific responsibilities include, but are not limited to: (1) managing a 2-3 person team, including projecting project time lines, scheduling and prioritizing experiments, and reporting on progress and/or bottlenecks (2) designing and overseeing all the cloning and sequencing experiments, (3) keeping track of DNA constructs and transgenic lines, (4) coordinating with greenhouse staff regarding projected space needs, (5) overseeing the budget allocated to this project, and (6) ordering the materials need for conducting all experiments. The RAIII will preform these tasks without close technical supervision. Rather, the RAIII will is expected to carry out their duties without close technical supervision. In summary, the RAIII will oversee multiple projects, encompassing many research areas and direct Research Assistant I personnel while summarizing the progress, challenges, and future priorities to the PI as needed.


(45%) Cloning and transgenic plant generation

  •  Independently design and create promoter fusions and over expression constructs using current cloning techniques (e.g. Gateway, GoldenGate, Gibson etc.).
  • Design and create CRISPR constructs to modulate the expression and activity of key genes and TFs.
  • Create Isolate RNA and generate cDNA from both model and crop plants to subclone various genes and promoters into expression constructs.
  • Generate homozygous Arabidopsis transgenic lines containing the various cloned constructs.
  • Assess the expression of reporter lines via staining, imaging, qPCR, and/or western blotting.
  • Clone and express genes for in vitro experiments such as DAP-seq
  • Independently organizes plant lines & construct stocks in a common digital database

  (20%) Molecular biology in support of genomics experiments 

  •  Generated sequencing libraries for RNAseq analysis from both model and crop species
  • Generate sequencing libraries from DAP-seq using both model and crop species.

 (25%) Research Oversight 

  •  Record all data and observations in appropriate electronic lab notebook.
  • Generate protocols for experiments and assays.
  • Generate detailed experimental plans across the team (RAIII and RAI(s)) that span from daily/weekly tasks to more long-term activities involving plant growth cycles.
  • Generate biweekly reports that summarize progress, identify any difficulties, and assess next steps
  • Direct Research Assistant I in research goals.
  • Collaborate with and discusses results with the rest of the research team.

(10%) Lab Support 

  •  Assist the PI and the lab coordinator in organizing the lab. 
  • Assist in the maintenance and creation of lab databases.
  • Train necessary staff on protocols and use of lab databases.
  • Assist in ordering general supplies and preparing stocks and reagents for common use.
  • Prepare PowerPoint slides and written summaries detailing the progress of the team.
  • Attend lab meetings and assist in general problem solving.



  • Minimum 4 years of experience in molecular or cell biology with demonstrated experience in standard molecular biology techniques including DNA and RNA extraction, PCR based methods, and agarose gel electrophoresis.
  • Demonstrated experience in cloning, including previous experience with current cloning techniques (e.g. Gateway, Golden Gate, Gibson assembly, etc.)
  • Demonstrated experience in plant biology including the generation, growth and propagation of transgenic plants.


  • Experience with CRISPR editing in plants.
  •  Experience working with the plant model Arabidopsis thaliana  
  • Experience with library preparation protocols for NGS sequencing platforms (e.g. Illumina, PacBio, etc.)
  • Minimum 1 year of experience in a supervisory role



  •  Bachelor's degree in biological sciences or equivalent


  •  Master's degree or PhD in biological sciences or equivalent with a plant biology focus



  • Theoretical and hands on knowledge of molecular biology techniques.
  • Ability to manage and track large numbers of samples meticulously without mix-ups or cross- contamination.
  • Ability to perform complex experiments and techniques with a high level of reliability and accuracy within time constraints.
  • Demonstrated ability to conduct and oversee independent research, to design experiments, troubleshoot protocols, prioritize between multiple projects, and generate recommendations for next steps and alternative approaches as needed.
  • Demonstrated ability to plan and develop meaningful objectives to work toward the overall goals of the CRoPs project.
  • Skill in the operation of common lab equipment.
  • Proficiency with common office software applications as well as software applications used for research, recording, and analysis.
  • Highly 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.


  •  Must be willing to work in an animal-related research environment.
  • Must be willing to work an adjusted schedule to support research needs.
  • Successful completion of the Institute's background investigation.
  • Must be willing to sign a confidentiality agreement


This position requires constant handling, seeing, sitting, touching/feeling, analyzing, calculating, reasoning and working inside. 

Application Details

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