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Living Biofoundry Project Scientist Position


The recently established BioPolymers, Automated Cellular Infrastructure, Flow, and Integrated Chemistry: Materials Innovation Platform (BioPACIFIC MIP), supported by the National Science Foundation and located in the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) will create and operate a collection of state-of-the-art user facilities dedicated to biomaterials discovery and development. The BioPACIFIC MIP is seeking to fill a Living Biofoundry Project Scientist position to support research efforts at the forefront of synthetic biology and microbial engineering as part of a diverse and dynamic team within the BioPACIFIC MIP at its UCLA site. The successful candidate will establish a world-class resource for high-throughput synthetic biology and take a lead role in the development and application next-generation methods for production of new bio-derived, functional monomers from living organisms in support of a diverse and vibrant user community.

The Living Biofoundry Project Scientist will spend 50% time, in tandem with the BioPACIFIC in-house research team, on making significant and creative contributions to in-house research, including developing methods for process automation and synthetic biology that further existing projects; developing and carrying out relevant experiments; publishing scientific papers; presenting at technical conferences; and filing IP disclosures. The Living Biofoundry Project Scientist will collaborate with in-house members of the BioPACIFIC research community to continually build expertise and develop new methods to engineer model microbial systems for production of molecules that are of interest to the BioPacific community. Building community expertise will include attending and presenting at a bi-monthly technical research meeting with affiliate researchers to provide consultation on tool usage, experimental design, and data interpretation.

To support the BioPACIFIC MIP mission, the Living Biofoundry Project Scientist will devote 50% time to oversee operation of the spinnaker-based automation system, develop new process protocols to maximize the usage of the system, train new users in the operation of the system, and work with users to design experiments and test hypothesis.  Users will consult with the Living Biofoundry Project Scientist as the primary technical point-of-contact to develop Project Feasibility and Research plans that maximize the likelihood of success. Twice per year the candidate will participate in an open house that will highlight the facilities and research capabilities to promote use by internal and external users.

The Living Biofoundry Project Scientist will interface directly with and report to the BioPACIFIC directors and will successfully carry out experiments and analyze the data generated with minimal to no supervision. The successful candidate will directly manage a state-of-the-art spinnaker-based automation system configured specifically for applications in synthetic biology in a dedicated laboratory space. The Project Scientist position is a fully-supported, 12-month position.


  • D in Engineering, Chemistry, or related fields
  • 3+ years of experience, either industrial or academic, in automation and high throughput screening
  • Knowledge of scientific principles in synthetic biology and chemistry
  • Experience in complex integrated systems (fluidic, mechanical, and optical) that require cross-functional solutions and collaboration
  • Experience in designing and building custom laboratory automation, experiences with Thermo automation systems/software and Tecan are particularly applicable
  • Strong understanding of the fundamentals of design controls and engineering principles
  • Proficient or basic knowledge of C#/++, LabVIEW, Python, or java
  • Ability to work with and train scientists at all levels in an academic research setting
  • Ability to communicate effectively in both written and oral formats

Service Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Design automation workflow that fit BioPACIFIC users’ needs in microbial engineering
  • Train BioPACIFIC users from collaborating laboratories
  • Coordinate user requests and services
  • Develop, maintain and disseminate updated versions of policies and standard operating procedures
  • Maintain financial records of expenditures and billing; prepare budget summaries and projections used in facility review; and assist in the preparation/submission of reports
  • Develop and administrate chemical and biosafety protocols
  • Participate in events that highlight facilities and research capabilities to promote use by internal and external users

Research Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Fully explore the capability of the spinnaker system in synthetic biology applications using model organisms.
  • Design and develop software and methods that can be suitable for different users of the system.
  • Design experiments to perform large scale, high through plasmid design, construction, transformation and recovery.
  • Design experiments for microbial growth and metabolite extraction and detection.

Additional Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Serve as a liaison between BioPACIFIC users, faculty, committee members, administration and other external institutions/companies
  • Oversee activities of BioPACIFIC undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral trainees
  • Support the BioPACIFIC Directors with service/material transfer agreements, with particular focus on export control and intellectual property considerations
  • Cultivate an inclusive, collegial environment with strong inter-personal communication skills
  • Work on multiple projects efficiently and effectively
  • Work independently on scientific projects and develop scientific ideas
  • Assist with preparation of grant proposals
  • Prepare operational reports for use in periodic reviews by the NSF
  • Prepare manuscripts for publication in scientific journals
  • Complete all appropriate safety training as mandated by UCLA Environmental Health & Safety

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. We highly encourage all applicants without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age or protected veteran status. For the complete University of California nondiscrimination and affirmative action policy see: UC Nondiscrimination and Affirmative Action Policy. University policy is intended to be consistent with the provisions of applicable State and Federal laws.

BioPACIFIC is especially interested in candidates who have a demonstrated commitment to diversity and experience working with students from a diverse background in addition to a demonstrated commitment to improving access to higher education for disadvantaged students.

Interested candidates should apply on-line by November 20th, 2020 on this site:

Start date: January 10th, 2021 or as soon as mutually agreeable.