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Pro Tem Research Assistant

Apply now Job no: 528766
Work type: Faculty - Pro Tempore
Location: Eugene, OR
Categories: Biology/Life Sciences, Research/Scientific/Grants, Chemistry, Physics, Engineering/Biomedical Engineering

Department: Knight Campus
Rank: Research Assistant
Annual Basis: 12 Month

Review of Applications Begins

January 27, 2022; position open until filled.

Special Instructions to Applicants

Please attach a cover letter, CV, and provide contact information for three references.

Department Summary

The Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact is a billion-dollar initiative designed to fast-track scientific discoveries and the process of turning those discoveries into innovations that improve the quality of life for people in Oregon, the nation and beyond. The Knight Campus will reshape the higher education landscape in Oregon by training the next generations of scientists, forging tighter ties with industry and entrepreneurs and creating new educational opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students.

Position Summary

The Plesa research lab is seeking a research assistant to focus on the development of novel gene synthesis methods for building large gene libraries as well as novel methods for characterizing and engineering proteins at scale.

Our lab aims to accelerate the pace at which we understand and engineer biological systems, particularly proteins. We are interested in uncovering the rules for the engineering of novel protein function, particularly in the areas of sensing and interfacing with engineering. Towards this end, we develop new technologies for gene synthesis, multiplex functional assays, in-vivo mutagenesis, and genotype-phenotype linkages. These allow us to both access the huge sequence diversity present in natural systems as well as carry out testing of rationally designed hypotheses encoded onto DNA at much larger scales than previously possible. Using these approaches, we aim to quickly characterize and engineer entire protein families, rather than focusing on individual proteins. Our work is highly-interdisciplinary and touches on aspects from many fields including bioengineering, protein engineering, biochemistry, synthetic biology, molecular biology, microbiology, structural biology, genetics, bioinformatics, and quantitative biology.

The research assistant will be responsible for conducting research and technical activities related to sponsored projects in the lab, with a strong emphasis on technology development. Research work will include designing and optimizing new scalable gene synthesis methods to enable longer genes, higher yields, and lower cost. Other research work may include developing novel multiplex in-vivo assays and methods. Essential responsibilities will include designing and conducting experiments, interpreting data, writing manuscripts, writing research proposals, assembling and delivering research presentations locally and nationally, assisting and training other researchers in the laboratory, and maintaining laboratory equipment. This position will work closely with other lab researchers (students, postdocs, and technicians) and with Dr. Plesa. The position will be given a level of independence depending on the level of experience.

Minimum Requirements

• Bachelor’s degree in bioengineering, biochemistry, biology, biophysics, physics, chemistry, chemical engineering or related disciplines
• One year of work experience in a research laboratory performing molecular biology techniques including PCR, primer design, DNA assembly (Golden Gate, Gibson), gel electrophoresis, cloning, cell culture (E. coli), and DNA extractions

Professional Competencies

• Strong skills in molecular biology techniques (PCR, qPCR, DNA assembly, gel electrophoresis, cloning, DNA extraction), and bacterial cell culture (E. coli)
• Excellent organizational, written, and verbal communication skills
• Strong quantitative skills and a strong interest in developing new technologies to advance protein science.
• Ability to carry out and troubleshoot laboratory protocols.
• Ability to work both independently, in a small group setting, and one-on-one with students, other staff, and collaborators in a positive and productive manner.
• High level of self-motivation and integrity.

Preferred Qualifications

• Experience with python or R scientific programming languages
• Experience with NGSequencing protocols and data


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