Research Assistant/Associate in Physics

University of Cambridge

United Kingdom

Applications are invited for a postdoctoral researcher position on Diamond-Based Biosensing Microscopy investigating nanoscale phenomena at the single live cell level using optically detected magnetic resonance with nanodiamonds at the Cavendish Laboratory (Department of Physics, University of Cambridge).

Through developments in sequencing technologies, super-resolution imaging and single-molecule microscopy, major progress has been made in understanding how genes and gene products interact to affect subcellular function. Yet, despite these insights, our knowledge of whether and how spatial and temporal variations in temperature, pressure and ion concentrations influence subcellular processes have proved surprisingly challenging to resolve. This project aims to address such challenges using a newly developed technique based on nanodiamond sensing microscopy. This technique offers 0.1-degree temperature sensitivity in a zeptolitre liquid and can simultaneously differentiate NMR signals from different elements (e.g. 1H & 19F) within this volume. This capability offers a better understanding of the role of temperature and ion concentration within a cell and open routes to answer further fundamental questions and new directions to rational design of bioprobes and therapeutic approaches. To achieve this, we will study cultures of multiple primary cell types following efficient nanodiamond uptake and targeting, already demonstrated by our group and collaborators. In parallel, we will focus on the study of dinoflagellate algae. These units are engaged in multiple symbiotic interactions with plastids and coral-building reefs in a very fragile interplay which is currently poorly understood. This project seeks to reveal the intricacies of these interactions on the single cell, single organelle level.

We are looking for an experimental optics and microscopy expert with a PhD in Physics, Applied Physics or Biophysics. Experience with optical imaging and working with high-resolution imaging platforms and techniques is essential. Where the successful applicant does not yet have a PhD at the time of appointment, he/she will normally be under-appointed as a Research Assistant in a Research Associate post (on the understanding that he/she will be appointed as a Research Associate upon successful completion of his/her PhD).

This project will be based in the University of Cambridge, Department of Physics, and is funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The successful applicant will work with Dr Helena Knowles and Professor Mete Atatüre. They will also work closely with Dr Sarah Bohndiek (Cancer Research UK and Physics of Medicine) and with Dr Ross Waller (Department of Biochemistry), particularly on applying the spatial proteomics method hyperLOPIT to the dinoflagellate cell systems.

The application closing date is April 30th, 2019. Interviews will be conducted in early May 2019. The anticipated starting date is June 15th 2019, but negotiable.

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 2 years in the first instance and can be extended an additional year.

Successful candidates who have not been awarded their PhD by the appointment date will be appointed as a Research Assistant at Grade 5 (£26,243 - £30,395 per annum). Upon award of the PhD the individual will be promoted to Research Associate, Grade 7 (£32,236 - £39,609 per annum).

Click the 'Apply' button below to register an account with our recruitment system (if you have not already) and apply online.

Informal enquiries can be addressed via email to Dr Helena Knowles ( or Professor Mete Atature (

Please quote reference KA17709 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.

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