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HudsonAlpha - Research Associate II - Harkess Lab

Triana, Alabama, US
Closing date
Jul 4, 2022

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Academic / Research
Conservation science
Salary Type
Employment Type
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Position: Research: Associate II - Harkess Lab

Position Type: Full-Time


The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology ( is a non-profit organization with the mission to use biotechnology and basic biological research to make important discoveries, improve human health, stimulate economic development, inspire young people to seek careers in science and teach members of the public the importance of science in their everyday lives. Located in Cummings Research Park in Huntsville, Alabama, one of the world's leading science and technology parks, HudsonAlpha's campus contains state-of-the-art laboratories for biological research and development, as well as education, in the areas of genomics, genetics and personalized medicine.


The Alex Harkess laboratory uses comparative genomics to explore the diversity of reproduction in plants, with a particular focus on sex chromosome evolution. Leveraging the immense sequencing capacity at HudsonAlpha, our laboratory uses classical botany paired with cutting-edge genomics to characterize shifts in reproduction strategies across the land plant tree of life. We develop novel methodologies for identifying, assembling, and analyzing sex chromosomes in plants, in addition to other broad-scale questions regarding plant reproductive and evolutionary genomics.


The main duties of this position will be general molecular biology to assist our Lab Manager, Postdoctoral Associates and Fellows, graduate students and undergraduates to complete projects in a timely fashion. These duties include DNA and RNA isolation from diverse plants, High Molecular Weight DNA extractions for genome sequencing, and Illumina sequencing library preparation. Some additional plant growth responsibilities are needed, including duckweed media preparation, and assorted greenhouse experiment tasks (planting, harvesting) as needed. The Associate follows procedures as outlined, ensuring the consistency of research practices and, ultimately, helping ensure the consistency and integrity of project outcomes. The Associate also provides feedback in the case that procedures are not producing as expected, and should help to troubleshoot protocols over time.

The Research Associate must understand laboratory procedure and safety. In addition to a general knowledge of the overall objectives of the research project, the Associate must have an understanding of the tactical methodology in particular. The Associate works under the direction of a graduate student, postdoctoral fellow, research associate with supervisory responsibilities, senior scientist, or the lab Principal Investigator, communicating progress and advising of any issues that arise. The Associate must be able to adapt to modifications in protocol, changes in equipment or upgrades in software, as well as adjustments to the scope of research projects.

Research Associate positions fall among several levels that are generally progressive and reflect increasing proficiency. However, it is not to be expected that a Research Associate will continually promote upward. The assigned level depends on the complexity of actual duties and responsibilities and is not necessarily a reflection of tenure.

Research Associates may work directly with materials or with data.


* Proficient in all aspects of basic laboratory procedure and/or data collection, including ability to review laboratory results/data for general quality and consistency
* Manages concurrent tasks in various stages of completion
* Provides assistance and back-up as needed to other research team members
* Troubleshoots basic equipment issues
* Maintains an accurate and up-to-date laboratory notebook or tracks work as required by the project or supervisor
* Participates in general lab maintenance such as cleaning freezers, shared lab space and equipment, and ordering and stocking shared reagents and consumables
* Other duties as assigned


* Bachelor's degree in a life or physical science field requiring hands-on laboratory work
* Meticulous attention to detail, both in actual laboratory practice and in documentation
* Excellent laboratory skills, including proficiency in pipetting, documentation, and procedure (clinical, sterile, or molecular, depending on the needs of the laboratory)
* Ability to accurately convert measurements and prepare chemical solutions and buffers as required
* Ability to understand protocols, clarify as needed, and perform protocols with consistency, as demonstrated through previous laboratory experience
* Ability to operate basic laboratory equipment (PCR machine, gel electrophoresis, tabletop centrifuge, etc.) and troubleshoot basic problems
* May have basic experience or proficiency with highly specialized laboratory equipment (next generation DNA sequencers, fluorescent microscopes, mass spectrophotometers, etc.)

Physical Demands/Environmental Factors/Mental Functions

ADA Requirements - The physical demands, work environment factors, and mental functions described below are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential function of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

Disclaimer - All job requirements are subject to possible revision to reflect changes in the position requirements or to reasonably accommodate individuals with disabilities. Some requirements may exclude individuals who pose a threat or risk to the health and safety of themselves or other employees. This job description in no way states or implies that these are the only duties which will be required in this position. Employees will be required to follow other job-related duties as requested by their supervisor/manager (within guidelines and compliance with Federal and State Laws). Continued employment remains on an "at-will" basis.

Physical Demands

* Must be able to remain in a stationary position (sit or stand) for prolonged periods (50% of the time).
* Frequently moving between work areas.
* Frequently moving, transporting, and positioning materials up to 30 pounds.
* Vision abilities required by this job include close vision, distance vision, and depth perception.
* Frequent operation of common office equipment (e.g. computers, mobile devices, calculators, copiers, scanners) and laboratory equipment.
* Frequently position self (e.g. stoop, crouch, crawl, bend) and pull/push, grasp/squeeze, wrist flexion/extension, reach to operate and maintain laboratory equipment.

Environmental Factors

* Exposure to chemical, mechanical and electrical hazards, and hazardous physical substances and fumes, and airborne particles.
* Noise level in the work environment is usually moderate.

Mental Functions

* Continuous mental and visual attention, requiring sustained attention and observation.
* Excellent fine motor skills and hand control in order to pipette accurately.
* Ability to sustain focus during research procedures (to maintain protocol such as order of operations).
* Ability to visually observe results and record outcomes on lab logs and/or PC.
* Basic computer skills are required.
* Extensive documentation skills, good attention to detail, and exceptional organizational skills are required.
* Communicate effectively, both orally and in writing, in the English language.
* Requires the ability to adapt to change efficiently.
* Ability to independently lead and conduct research, and to evaluate, interpret and present complex scientific data.
* Capacity to work productively within functionally diverse teams as well as collaborate with external investigators and partners in academic and industrial settings.
* Ability to prioritize issues and use sound judgment to recognize when additional consultation and/or help is needed.
* Comfortable working on multiple projects at one time.
* Strong logical thinking and deduction skills.
* Ability to effectively present ideas and information in a variety of formats to a wide range of audiences.
* Positive, Flexible and professional attitude.

It is the policy of HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, in accordance with all applicable laws, to recruit, hire, train, and promote persons in all job titles without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, genetic information, sexual orientation, veteran status, or any other basis prohibited by applicable law.
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