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Research Assistant/Associate

Requisition ID:  24524

Newcastle, GB

Contract Type:  Fixed Term
Working Pattern:  Full Time
Posted Date:  25-Nov-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.



Research Assistant: £29,619 - £31,411 per annum

Research Associate: £32,348 to £35,333 per annum


Closing Date: 08 December 2022


The Role

You will work on a collaborative BBSRC-funded research project in the groups of Henrik Strahl, Waldemar Vollmer (Newcastle University) and Seamus Holden (University of Warwick) to study the synthesis of the bacterial cell wall in the model bacteria Bacillus subtilis and Escherichia coli. Your work will focus on the cell biology and biochemistry of cell wall synthesis, and you will work closely together with the more biophysically oriented PDRA in the Holden group. You will be based the Centre of Bacterial Cell Biology, a vibrant research centre within the Biosciences Institute of Newcastle University focused on the molecular and cellular biology of bacteria. 


The Research Project:
Bacteria are surrounded by a mesh-like peptidoglycan cell wall which protects them from bursting and maintains the shape of the cell. Inhibition of peptidoglycan synthesis by antibiotics causes defects in the cell wall structure and cell lysis. In well-studied rod-shaped bacteria, e.g. E. coli and B. subtilis, a dynamic cell wall synthetic machinery, the elongasome, is responsible for the expansion of the lateral wall during growth (cell elongation). We will study how B. subtilis and E. coli regulate the processivity and dynamics of the elongasome, how the elongasome functioning determines the molecular structure of the cell wall and, ultimately, how the elongasome modulates the mechanical properties and propensity to lysis when cells are challenged with antibiotics or osmotic shocks. You will use a combination of molecular biology, microbiology and biochemistry methods to characterise changes in the structure of the cell wall that are associated with the regulation of elongasome dynamics. In addition, you will use advanced fluorescence microscopy and single-cell analyses to observe how the changes in cell wall structure alter the cells’ ability to withstand turgor and cell wall-targeting antibiotics.


This post is fixed term for a period of 3 years. 


For informal enquiries contact: Henrik Strahl (


Find out more about the Faculty of Medical Sciences here.

Find out more about our Research Institutes here.


As part of our commitment to career development for research colleagues, the University has developed 3 levels of research role profiles.  These profiles set out firstly the generic competences and responsibilities expected of role holders at each level and secondly the general qualifications and experiences needed for entry at a particular level.


Key Accountabilities
•    Although working under the general guidance of an academic or Principal Investigator, the postholder will contribute ideas, including enhancements to the technical or methodological aspects of their studies, thus providing substantial 'added value' 
•    Develop and carry out the specified project using appropriate techniques and equipment as outlined in the personal requirements 
•    Determine appropriate methodologies for research, with advice and support where required
•    Contribute to grant applications submitted by others and in time develop own research objectives and proposals for funding 
•    Begin to write, with appropriate support, proposals for individual research funding or, where funders do not permit this, contribute to the writing of collective bids
•    Assess research findings for the need/scope for further investigations
•    Contribute to the writing up of their research for publication and dissemination, either through seminar and conference presentations or through publications
•    Present research findings, either at conferences or through publications in reputable outlets appropriate to the discipline
•    May be involved in the supervision, with guidance, of final year undergraduate research projects and in providing support to postgraduate research students or Research Assistants 
•    Will need to work with the support staff and, on occasions, with undergraduate and postgraduate students, and interact intellectually with other academic members of the Institute
•    May contribute to events celebrating the public engagement of science/social sciences/humanities
•    Develop an awareness of University structures, policies and procedures and relevant issues in the higher education, research, social and political environment
•    Work closely collaboratively within your own research group, and with external collaboration partners

The Person (Essential)


Knowledge, Skills and Experience 
•    Ability to work well as part of a team and rapidly acquire new skills
•    Detailed subject knowledge (PI to describe subject knowledge required) in the area of research 
•    Likelihood of advanced skills directly related to the research projects 
•    High level of analytical and problem-solving capability 
•    Ability to communicate complex information with clarity and to encourage the commitment of others 
•    Experience of research with clear transferable skills and some experience or awareness of the research environment 
•    Presentations at conferences and/or high-quality publications 
•    A publication record that matches the career stage 
•    Excellent team-working skills
•    Experience in working with bacterial model organisms
•    Experience in either molecular biology (molecular cloning, plasmid and strain construction) or bacterial cell wall biochemistry

•    Expertise in fluorescence microscopy 
•    Expertise in biochemical analysis of bacterial cell wall
•    Prior experience in working with B. subtilis or E. coli  
•    Prior experience in genetic manipulation of B. subtilis or E. coli  

Attributes and Behaviour
•    Excellent interpersonal skills
•    Excellent team-working skills
•    Well organised, with ability to work on several parallel research lines 


•    PhD in bacteriology, microbiology, biochemistry, molecular biology, or a comparable field. for Research Associate
•    Bachelors degree or close to submission/completion of PhD for Research Assistant




The University holds a silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of our good employment practices for the advancement of gender equality. The University is also a member of the Euraxess initiative supporting researchers in Europe.


Requisition ID: 24524