Research Associate

University of Sheffield - Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology

Contract Type: Fixed-term for 36 months, subject to funding being renewed on an annual basis

Location: Firth Court, Main Campus

Applications are invited for a postdoctoral research associate to work in the group of Dr Matthew Johnson in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of Sheffield. The department was ranked 1st in biomedical sciences and =5th in biological sciences in the U.K. in the last national census (REF2014). The Human Frontiers Science Programme funded post aims to understand the regulation of photosynthetic light harvesting, in particular the role played by conformation changes in light harvesting complexes in the control of the photophysical processes within. In a natural habitat plants encounter changeable light conditions due to variations in weather and shading by other plants. To work on cloudy days or in shade plants have evolved a highly-sophisticated light harvesting antenna system to capture and concentrate enough solar energy for photosynthesis. But on sunny days, plants absorb more solar energy than they need for photosynthesis. This can damage plants and reduce crop yields, so plants have evolved ways to defend themselves from excess light. However, to date we do not fully understand how the fast photochemical reactions inside light harvesting complexes that quench the excess energy are controlled at the molecular level by the plant and how they are precisely tuned to the prevailing light conditions.

The candidate appointed will biochemically purify light harvesting complexes and regulatory proteins and incorporate them into natural thylakoid lipid membrane vesicles. The candidate will then structurally characterize these assemblies by AFM and EM to ensure proper orientation and assess their function using fluorescence lifetime microscopy (FLIM). The candidate will also make collaborative visits to MIT and Japan as part of the project.

You will have a PhD (or have submitted your PhD) in a relevant biological science e.g. Biochemistry (or equivalent experience). You will hold general biochemistry skills, including preparation of membranes by sucrose gradients, FPLC and have experience of atomic force microscopy and/ or electron microscopy applied to biological material.

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