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Postdoctoral Fellow – Microbial and Cell-Free Engineering

Job Description

Berkeley Lab’s (LBNL ) Joint Genome Institute (JGI ) Division has an opening for a Postdoctoral Fellow to join the DNA Synthesis and Secondary Metabolites Science programs!


Harnessing biological systems to produce existing or new molecules is at the heart of the emerging bioeconomy. Such engineered systems take the enzymatic machinery that nature has designed and optimize this for either cell or cell-free based production for cost-advantaged, alternative supply or even novel molecular production. At the JGI, we continue to evolve cell-based methods and now wish to expand into cell-free metabolic pathway prototyping. 


In this exciting role, you will be responsible for evaluating and comparing cell-based and cell-free technology in two initially separate project areas, one to develop novel hosts and optimize metabolic pathways in conjunction with an industrial partner, and in the other to transfer new cell-free technology developed by academic partners into the JGI to validate and further this as a new technology platform for the JGI. 


As this work further develops it is expected that there will be opportunities to perform direct comparisons of the cell-based and cell-free technologies and to leverage the respective merits of each for an optimal platform for metabolic pathway exploration including those for secondary metabolites.


What You Will Do:

  • Use Chassis-Independent Recombinase-Assisted Genome Engineering (CRAGE) technology to develop novel hosts for metabolic pathway expression.
  • Use synthetic biology to design, build, and test metabolic pathways in the novel hosts.
  • Conduct technical transfer of the cell-free technology to the JGI, validating methods, and developing standard operating procedures.
  • Partner with computational scientists to develop data analysis workflows.
  • Further develop and deploy cell-free technology for secondary metabolite biosynthesis to discover and/or characterize known or novel secondary metabolites.
  • Analyze data and report findings in peer-reviewed scientific journals and at conferences.
  • Interface with internal and external collaborators.
  • Assist other group members in designing and executing experiments, interpreting data, and writing research articles and grant applications.


What is Required:

  • A recent Ph.D. in Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Biochemistry, or a related field.
  • Demonstrated interpersonal skills including the ability to interact with diverse technical and scientific staff within a dynamic and collaborative interdisciplinary team environment.
  • Extensive experience in molecular genetics in microbes (bacteria and yeast).
  • Experience with at least one of the following:
    • Designing, building, and testing of metabolic pathway constructs.
    • Working with cell-free systems, including lysate preparation.
    • Identification of metabolites and characterization of biosynthetic pathways.
  • Strong oral and written communication skills including the ability to efficiently organize technical information for publication and presentation.


Desired Qualifications:

  • Familiarity with analyzing NGS and metabolomics data.
  • Experience in microbial metabolite identification.
  • Experience in working with large DNA molecules.
  • Experience in using automated liquid handling systems.


For full consideration, please apply by February 20, 2023 with the following application materials:

  • Cover Letter (1-2 pages) - Describe your interest in this position and the relevance of your background.
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV) or Resume (3 page max).



  • This is a full time, exempt from overtime pay (monthly paid), 2 year appointment with the possibility of renewal based upon satisfactory job performance, continuing availability of funds, and ongoing operational needs. You must have less than 3 years of paid postdoctoral experience. 
  • The monthly salary range for this position is $4,636 - $5,995 and is expected to start at $5,011 or above. Postdoctoral positions are paid on a step schedule per union contract and salaries will be predetermined based on postdoctoral step rates. Each step represents one full year of completed post-Ph.D. postdoctoral and/or related research experience.
  • This position may be subject to a background check. Any convictions will be evaluated to determine if they directly relate to the responsibilities and requirements of the position. Having a conviction history will not automatically disqualify an applicant from being considered for employment.
  • This position will be performed on site at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, 1 Cyclotron Road, Berkeley, CA.


Learn About Us:


Berkeley Lab (LBNL) addresses the world’s most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab’s scientific expertise has been recognized with 14 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.


The JGI ’s mission is to provide the global research community with access to the most advanced integrative genome science capabilities in support of the DOE”s research mission to solve the world’s evolving energy and environmental challenges. The JGI supports projects in genome sequencing, synthesis, transcriptomics, metabolomics, and natural products in plants, fungi, algae, and microorganisms.


Berkeley Lab’s Postdoc Program is committed to providing Postdoctoral Researchers and Visiting scholars with a positive and impactful experience to jump-start their career through premium research and career development, networking opportunities, mentoring programs, and a strong community.  For more information, please visit our Berkeley Lab Postdoc Resources site and our Berkeley Lab Postdoc Association site.


Based on University of California Policy - SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program and U.S Federal Government requirements, Berkeley Lab requires that all members of our community obtain the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they are eligible. As a condition of employment at Berkeley Lab, all Covered Individuals must Participate in the COVID-19 Vaccination Program by providing proof of Full Vaccination or submitting a request for Exception or Deferral. Visit covid.lbl.gov for more information.


Berkeley Lab is committed to Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) and strives to continue building community with these shared values and commitments.


Berkeley Lab is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer. We heartily welcome applications from women, minorities, veterans, and all who would contribute to the Lab’s mission of leading scientific discovery, inclusion, and professionalism. In support of our diverse global community, all qualified applicants will be considered for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age, or protected veteran status.


Equal Opportunity and IDEA Information Links:

Know your rights, click here for the supplement: "Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law" and the Pay Transparency Nondiscrimination Provision under 41 CFR 60-1.4.

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