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Research Associate in Physical Geography

Requisition ID:  9224

Newcastle, GB

Contract Type:  Fixed Term
Working Pattern:  Full Time
Posted Date:  28-Jul-2021

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.


Salary: £30,942 - £31,866 per annum 

Closing Date: 29 July 2021


The Role


The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology seeks a Research Associate to join a team of researchers working on the project “Waves of colonization around the Sea of Moyle: linking population history, resilience and landscape change of island communities. This role will have a specific focus on organic geochemistry analysis of lake sediments.  You will primarily work on sample preparation for biomarkers including faecal sterols, bile acids, and leaf waxes. There is also the potential to develop your skills in using other biomarker compounds. You will be responsible for ensuring that sample procedures are carried out safely and in accordance with quality standards and health and safety regulations.


This is a fixed term, Full Time (100% FTE) post to start on or as close to 1st August 2021 and ending 31st August 2022


Informal enquiries can be made to: Dr Andrew Henderson andrew.henderson@ncl.ac.uk  and Dr Maarten van Hardenbroek maarten.vanhardenbroek@ncl.ac.uk 


Key Accountabilities


  • Biomarker sample separation and purification using chemical techniques including total lipid extraction, saponification, column chromatography and derivatisation prior to analysis.
  • Work with a variety of chemicals, including solvents and acids, and the maintenance of high safety standards in areas where work is carried out.
  • Use of laboratory equipment including freeze driers, microwave assisted extraction, rotary evaporators, gases, and analytical instrumentation including GC, GC-FID and GC-MS.
  • Work with standard components for quality control and quantification.
  • Integration and quantification of mass spectra from GC outputs.
  • Maintain accurate, secure, detailed and up-to-date records (notebook and computerized) of all work carried out and outcomes.
  • Manage your time effectively and work independently on a day-to-day basis, but also work closely with the Newcastle investigators.
  • Regularly disseminate findings by taking the lead in preparing publication materials for referred journals, presenting results at conferences, or exhibiting work at other appropriate events.
  • Collaborate/work on research tasks with co-investigators in other institutions. Liaise with other PDRAs and Co-Is, notably at University of Southampton.
  • Contribute to the general smooth running of the lab including monitoring and maintaining stocks of reagents and other supplies.
  • Ensure the correct storage, handling and disposal of hazardous chemical waste in accordance with School Safety Policies and legal requirements (COSHH).
  • Use of standard computer hardware and office software and specialist discipline specific data analysis software as appropriate to duties.


The Person (Essential)


Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • Knowledge of palaeolimnology and/or other sedimentary settings, and the application of biomarkers to understanding past environments.
  • Hands-on experience of solvent extraction techniques and ability to develop original methods, run standards for quality control and quantification, and solve analytical issues with respect to GC-MS outputs.
  • Able to organise own research activities to meet deadlines and ensure high quality standards.
  • Communicate new and complex information effectively, both verbally and in writing, engaging the interest and enthusiasm of the target audience, and a proven ability to write up research results for publication in leading peer-viewed journals.
  • High level of numeracy and confidence in data manipulation and analysis.
  • Experience of working and managing space within a Chemical and Biological Laboratory environment, and an awareness of laboratory Health and Safety issues and chemical waste disposal (COSHH).


Attributes and Behaviour

  • Works collaboratively with others, plays a positive role in teams and establishes and grows relationships across the organisation where different skills, expertise and opinions are valued.
  • Shares relevant and useful information with others
  • Respects the expertise and contribution of others even if own opinion is different.
  • Works in a planned and structured way
  • Ensures that all activities are completed on time
  • Ensures that others know how processes and systems work
  • Set own priorities in conjunction with team and area objectives
  • Looks at ways of overcoming obstacles rather than coming to a standstill
  • Keeps an open mind to alternative ways of doing things



  • PhD in organic geochemistry; geochemistry; palaeolimnology; palaeoenvironmental research or related cognate subject.


Newcastle University is committed to being a fully inclusive Global University which actively recruits, supports and retains staff 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.


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: 9224