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Research Assistant II - Plant Molecular & Cellular Biology Laboratory of Dr.Todd Michael

Salk Institute for Biological Studies
La Jolla, California, US
Closing date
Sep 23, 2022

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Academic / Research
Conservation science
Salary Type
Employment Type
Full time

The Michael Group in the Plant Biology Laboratory (PBIO) at the Salk Institute focuses on sequencing and analyzing plant genomes. As part of the focus on plant genomics, the group maintains capabilities in high molecular weight (HMW) DNA extraction, RNA extraction, sequencing library generation, running of sequencing platforms and methods for generating chromosome-resolved assemblies (HiC, BioNano). In addition, there is a focus on applying current genomics tools to further the understanding of plant genome structure and function. Furthermore, as new genomics tools emerge, the group routinely tests these new methods to assess if they could play a role in improving plant genome sequencing, assembling and annotation. The Michael Group wet lab works very closely with the computational dry lab to reach the goals of high-quality plant genomes.

The Research Assistant II (RAII) will perform tasks for the sequencing wet lab in the Michael Group. The RAII will work with other members of the Michael Group, members of the Harnessing Plants Initiative (HPI), the Sequencing Core and the greater PBIO community of researchers. The RAII will perform tasks for the sequencing projects from handling plant material to generating high-quality sequencing information. The RAII will collaborate with a team of RAs to accomplish the goals of the sequencing wet lab and will work closely with members of the dry lab team to ensure high-quality genomes. The RAII will perform tasks for the overall wet lab collaborating with other lab members, ordering reagents, and attending lab meetings.


(60%) Genomics platform leadership and execution
  • Contribute to making high quality HMW DNA and RNA for genomics projects the development of new techniques for hard to work with samples.
  • Contribute to making libraries for genomics platforms, troubleshoot issues and provide input to recommendations for the best libraries for the project.
  • Quality control (QC) DNA and RNA using appropriate technologies, accurately assess quality, and determine go/no go for subsequent genomics steps.
  • Run and maintain genomics equipment, work with the dry lab team to move data to the appropriate storage location and work with vendors to keep equipment up to date and working.
  • Troubleshoot data generated on different genomics platforms and provide input to recommendations for likely remedies and alternative approaches.
  • Contribute to the development and deployment of new genomics platforms as they become available.
  • Work closely with the Sequencing Core to update new protocols, share equipment and generally attain best practices.

(40%) General wet lab experimental support
  • Contribute to the development of new protocols and execute experiments that further the overarching goals of generating high-quality genomes.
  • Contribute to writing manuscripts and generating figures for genomes and experiments.
  • Monitor plants, participate in transformation, and collecting new plant material.


  • Minimum 2 years of experience in molecular or cell biology with demonstrated experience in standard molecular biology techniques including DNA and RNA extraction, PCR based methods, and agarose gel electrophoresis.
  • Experience with plant material for RNA and DNA extraction.

  • Knowledge of genomics platforms including sequencing machines, optical mapping, nucleic acid quality control (QC) and single cell (i.e., 10X Genomics).
  • Demomstrated with library preparation protocols for NGS sequencing platforms (Oxford Nanopore, Illumina, PacBio, etc.).


  • Bachelor's degree in biological sciences or equivalent experience

  • Master's degree or PhD in biological sciences or equivalent with a plant biology focus.


  • Theoretical and hands on knowledge of molecular biology techniques.
  • Ability to manage and track large numbers of samples meticulously without mix-ups or cross- contamination.
  • Ability to perform complex experiments and techniques with a high level of reliability and accuracy within time constraints.
  • Demonstrated ability to plan and develop meaningful objectives to work toward the overall goals of the Michael Group.
  • Skill in the operation of common lab equipment.
  • Proficiency with common office software applications as well as software applications used for research, recording, and analysis.
  • Highly organized, effective at multitasking, adept at juggling changing priorities and able to prioritize.
  • Proven ability to work both independently and also as part of a collaborative team.
  • Excellent communication skills, both oral and written.
  • Strong interpersonal skills, including tact, diplomacy, and flexibility.

  • Must be willing to work in an animal-related research environment.
  • Must be willing to work an adjusted schedule to support research needs.
  • Successful completion of the Institute's background investigation.
  • Must be willing to sign a confidentiality agreement


The incumbent in this position will be constantly handling, seeing and talking.

Equal Opportunity Employer/Protected Veterans/Individuals with Disabilities

The contractor will not discharge or in any other manner discriminate against employees or applicants because they have inquired about, discussed, or disclosed their own pay or the pay of another employee or applicant. However, employees who have access to the compensation information of other employees or applicants as a part of their essential job functions cannot disclose the pay of other employees or applicants to individuals who do not otherwise have access to compensation information, unless the disclosure is (a) in response to a formal complaint or charge, (b) in furtherance of an investigation, proceeding, hearing, or action, including an investigation conducted by the employer, or (c) consistent with the contractor's legal duty to furnish information. 41 CFR 60-1.35(c)

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