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Research Assistant/Associate

Requisition ID:  21316

Newcastle, GB

Contract Type:  Fixed Term
Working Pattern:  Part Time
Posted Date:  05-Aug-2022


We are a world class research-intensive university. We deliver teaching and learning of the highest quality. We play a leading role in economic, social and cultural development of the North East of England. Attracting and retaining high-calibre people is fundamental to our continued success.


What’s in it for you? Newcastle University is a great place to work, with excellent benefits. We have a generous holiday package; plus the opportunity to buy more, great pension schemes and a number of health and wellbeing initiatives to support you.


Newcastle is an inclusive global University community where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.  As a University of Sanctuary, we aim to provide a welcoming place of safety for all, offering opportunities to people fleeing violence and persecution.


Newcastle University is committed to being a fully inclusive Global University which actively recruits, supports and retains colleagues from all sectors of society.  We value diversity as well as celebrate, support and thrive on the contributions of all our employees and the communities they represent.  We are proud to be an equal opportunities employer and encourage applications from everybody, regardless of race, sex, ethnicity, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, age, disability, gender identity, marital status/civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, as well as being open to flexible working practices.


Starting Salary:  Research Assistant from £29,619 to £31,411 pro-rata, per annum

                           Research Associate from £32,348 to £34,308, with progression to £42,155 pro-rata, per annum


Closing Date: 29 August 2022


The Role


‘Do you have a passion for leading the way in new discoveries in research?’ or ‘Have you got a proven record of accomplishment in delivering end to end project aims?’


We are looking for a plant pathologist to join our team to develop sustainable solutions to pathogen and pest control in vertical farming systems.


Vertical farming is one of the fastest growing innovations in farming, benefiting from advances in LED lighting technologies, sensors, environmental control and connectivity (IoT technologies). Vertical farming approaches seek to improve the efficient use of resources to increase production of high-value crops, whilst at the same time imbedding food production efficiently in the supply chain to avoid waste, reduce transport costs (and emissions) and increase sustainability.


The aim is to support in the development of diagnostic tools based on the detection of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and unique spectral characteristics to detect early stages of infection. Early detection will be used to initiate control using integrated pest management practices.


You will join a team of researchers working in partnership with InFarm (, Europe’s leading vertical farming company, who operate a network of in-store farms for 25 major European retail chains, including Marks and Spencer who are also a member of the project team. We will work in partnership with Roboscientific who have developed innovate tools for the real-time detection of VOCs, ideally suited to vertical farming systems.


We’re celebrating 150 years of Science, Agriculture and Engineering. Although a huge amount has changed over the last 150 years, one thing has stayed the same: our commitment to making a difference. We're educating the next generation of experts and tackling the biggest challenges facing our planet. Our innovative work has always focused on making a difference to people’s lives, and you can be part of it.


To apply, please complete an online application and upload a CV and a cover letter. Your cover letter is a supporting statement and you should outline how you meet the essential criteria of the role and evidence this with examples.


We are committed to building and maintaining a fair and inclusive working environment and we would be happy to discuss arrangements for flexible and/or blended working.


This is a part time role for 20 hours per week, fixed term until 31 May 2023.


For informal enquiries, please contact Professor Neil Boonham,


Key Accountabilities

  • Contribute to an internationally visible research profile in plant pathology, both independently and as a member of the Agricultural Production Systems Group under the clear guidance of a member of an academic staff
  • Work under the general guidance of a member of academic staff contribute ideas, including enhancements to the technical or methodological aspects of their studies, providing substantial ‘added value’
  • Use initiative and creativity to analyse and interpret research data and draw conclusions on the outcomes. Assess research findings for the need/scope for further investigations
  • Co-ordinate own work with that of others, deal with problems which may affect the achievement of research objectives and contribute to the planning of the project(s)
  • Present information on research progress and outcomes to the project PI and other consortium partners and project meetings
  • Work to deadlines and manage, with support, competing priorities
  • Ensure that personal knowledge in relevant fields of study is kept up to date
  • Use research resources (including, where required, laboratories, workshops and specialist equipment) as appropriate
  • Maintain academic standards and freedom, and work in accordance with university policies (e.g. equal opportunities, health and safety policies)
  • Supervise the laboratory work masters and undergraduate project students
  • Possible demonstration duties within undergraduate laboratories and classes
  • Undertake relevant training and development activities to develop capacity for taking on wider responsibilities
  • Develop, with advice, an awareness of own professional development needs and a personal development strategy
  • Participate in and contribute to the development of a vibrant research culture within the school


The Person 


Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • Practical working knowledge of fungal plant diseases, mechanisms of spread and methods for control
  • Practical working knowledge of pathogen isolation into culture and inoculation/infection of plants
  • Practical working knowledge of growing plants in hydroponic growing systems


Attributes and Behaviour

  • Highly developed planning and organisational skills
  • Effective time management and prioritisation skills
  • Good team working and networking skills and the ability to build productive links with fellow professionals in other institutions, companies and agencies
  • Excellent communication skills, both oral and written, with the ability to present to senior internal partner and external stakeholders as a representative of the School
  • A demonstrated commitment to ensuring our institutional strategy for Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) is embedded in all our research group activities, with a commitment to ensuring dignity and respect in the workplace to the highest standard
  • Demonstrable commitment to our values:
    • Professionalism and Academic Excellence
    • Transparency and Accountability
    • Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity
    • Collaborative and Multi-disciplinary
    • Ambition and aspiration
    • Motivation and Passion
    • Inquisitive, Creative and Imaginative
    • Integrity and Respect
    • Social Responsibility



  • An honours degree in biological sciences or related subject is essential for Research Assistant level
  • A PhD in a relevant discipline is essential for Research Associate level


We’re celebrating 150 years of Science, Agriculture and Engineering. Although a huge amount has changed over the last 150 years, one thing has stayed the same: our commitment to making a difference. We're educating the next generation of experts and tackling the biggest challenges facing our planet. Our innovative work has always focused on making a difference to people’s lives, and you can be part of it.


The University holds a silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of our good employment practices for the advancement of gender equality. The University also holds the HR Excellence in Research award for our work to support the career development of our researchers, and is a member of the Euraxess initiative supporting researchers in Europe.


Requisition ID: 21316