University of Exeter

Postdoctoral Research Associate/Fellow

University of Exeter

Exeter, United Kingdom

Postdoctoral Research Associate/Fellow


Closing: 28/05/2019

Postdoctoral Research Associate from £29,515 up to £34,189 on Grade E. Postdoctoral Research Fellow from £35,211 up to £43,267 on Grade F. Appointment will be made to the appropriate level, depending on qualifications and experience.

Job Category: Research

College of Life and Environmental Sciences – Biosciences

The College of Life and Environmental Science wishes to recruit a Postdoctoral Research Associate or Postdoctoral Research Fellow to support the work of Professor Jennifer Littlechild in collaboration with Professor Frank Vollmer. This full-time post is available immediately for up to 34 months.

Summary of the role/position

You will study enzyme structure, enzyme mechanism, protein folding and stability with state-of the art methodologies including single-molecule optical nanosensors, X-rays, and by way of molecular dynamics simulations. Your work will have important applications in nanosensing and health diagnostics. The work will be the essential part of the UKRI Molecular Mechanics Initiative at the University of Exeter. The UKRI funded Molecular Mechanics Initiative is a cutting-edge research programme that aims to achieve breakthroughs in how we detect,analyse, and manipulate molecules at the ultimate single-molecule level. The programme will develop a novel laser sensing and molecular mechanics analysis capabilities which will be at the forefront of new developments showing that the technique holds the key to the next generation of enabling analytical and healthcare technologies on sensor chips. Our approach will unravel nature’s design principles for nanomachines, and will allow us to realise synthetic biomolecular machinery and designer enzymes in the longer term. Measurements of energy landscapes combined with visualisation of enzyme movements will allow us to develop more accurate models for molecular machines.

Prof Littlechild’s laboratory carries out internationally leading work regarding the determination of a variety of enzyme structures, enzyme mechanisms and their multidisciplinary applications.They have a special interest in enzyme stability and immobilisation. For more information, please click here 

Prof Vollmer’s laboratory is pioneering optical sensors and spectrometers to visualise and detect processes at the micro- and nanoscale. For more information on Prof Vollmer’s laboratory,please click here 

Project details: What we are looking for…

You are a biochemist with experience in gene cloning and mutagenesis, protein purification, protein structural analysis, molecular modelling and enzyme application for biophysical techniques. Ideally you have worked with enzymes on surfaces, for example on electrochemical sensors.

You are excited about working as part of a multi-disciplinary team composed of phycisists, engineers, and biologists. You will work at the Henry Wellcome Building of Biocatalysis and the newly established Living Systems Institute,University of Exeter which provides state-of-the-art research facilities for realising one of the first optical approaches to study the energetics and dynamics of biomolecular machines: 


  1. Subramanian S, Wu H-Y, Constant T, Xavier J, Vollmer F.(2018) Label-Free OpticalSingle-Molecule Micro- and NanosensorsAdv Mater,DOI:10.1002/adma.201801246.
  2. Littlechild J. (2017) Improving the ‘Tool Box’for Robust IndustrialEnzymes.J.Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology, 44,711-720DOI:10.1007/s10295-017-1920-5

Requirements for the role

Previous experience with protein structure analysis, enzyme purification, mutational analysis, application of biophysical techniques is required. Familiarity with surface immobilisation of proteins and enzymes,molecular dynamics simulations, Raman and SERS protein analysis, electrochemical sensors is desirable.

For the Postdoctoral Research Associate

The successful applicant will be able to present information on research progress and outcomes, communicate complex information, orally, in writing and electronically and prepare proposals and applications to external bodies.

Applicants will possess a relevant PhD (or be nearing completion) in biochemistry or a related field of study and be able to demonstrate sufficient knowledge in the discipline and of research methods and techniques to work within established research programmes.Applicants will be experienced in protein structure analysis, enzyme purification, mutational analysis, application of biophysical techniques.

For the Postdoctoral Research Fellow

The successful applicant will be able to develop research objectives, projects and proposals; identify sources of research funding and contribute to the process of securing funds and make presentations at conferences and other events.

Applicants will possess a relevant PhD in biochemistry or a related field of study. The successful applicant will be a nationally recognised authority in protein structure analysis, enzyme purification, mutational analysis, application of biophysical techniques and possess sufficient specialist knowledge in the discipline to develop research programmes and methodologies. The successful applicant will also be able to work collaboratively, supervise the work of others and act as team leader as required.

You can view the job description and person specification for both levels here:

What we can offer you

- Freedom (and the support) to pursue your intellectual interests and to work creatively across disciplines to produce internationally exciting research;

- Support teams that understand the University wide research and teaching goals and partner with our academics accordingly

- An Innovation, Impact and Business directorate that works closely with our academics providing specialist support for external engagement and development

- Our Exeter Academic initiative supporting high performing academics to achieve their potential and develop their career

- A multitude of staff benefits including sector leading benefits (up to 26 weeks full pay), Paternity leave (up to 6 weeks full pay), and a new Fertility Treatment Policy

- A beautiful campus set in the heart of stunning Devon.

Further information

Please contact Professor Jennifer Littlechild, or (01392) 723468, or you can contact Professor Frank Vollmer, or (01392) 724771. 

To apply:

This role may be subject to additional background screening.

The College is working towards department Silver Athena SWAN awards as a commitment to providing equality of opportunity and advancing the representation of women in STEM/M subjects: science,technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine.

With over 22,000 students and 5,500 staff from 180 different countries we offer a diverse and engaging environment in which to work. We are an equal opportunity employer, a Disability Confident employer and an Athena Swan accredited institution. Whilst all applicants will be judged on merit alone, we particularly welcome applications from groups currently underrepresented in the workforce

Please apply via recruiter’s website.