Electron Microscopy Research Support Officer - Structural Studies - John Briggs

Job Description
Overall purpose:

The LMB has a world-leading EM facility including three Titan Krios, two Polara, two other FEG microscopes, a Scios dual-beam and lower-end microscopes. It has approximately 150 active users applying electron cryomicroscopy and cryo-electron tomography to study important biological problems. It also hosts research programmes aimed at the development of new hardware and software for cryo-electron microscopy.

The primary purpose of the EM Research Support Officer is to work as part of a team of scientists who manage, maintain and develop the world-leading EM research facility, and provide technical advice and support to users of the facility.

Main duties & Key Responsibilities:
The EM research support officer will:

  • Provide technical advice, practical advice, and trouble-shooting to scientists on all microscopes.
  • Provide training to new scientific users of the facility, and provide technical advice on best-practice for the study of biological structures.
  • Plan and perform cryo-electron microscopy experiments, and advise and support other scientists who want to do this.
  • Take joint responsibility for day-to-day provision of electron microscopes: assisting in maintenance of alignments, addressing and resolving hardware and software problems within an appropriate timeframe.
  • Take joint responsibility for day-to-day provision of associated EM equipment such as the glow-discharger, vitrobot etc: addressing and resolving hardware and software problems within an appropriate timeframe.
  • Help to organise the purchase and installation of new or replacement equipment or software as required.
  • Create and maintain documentation, prepare reports and summarise findings and conclusions.
  • Help to maintain the user-booking system.
  • Perform research projects aimed at improving the performance, efficiency and usability of the electron microscopes through modification of software or hardware, in collaboration with MRC-LMB scientists.

The EM research support officer will be additionally expected to:

  • Keep up to date with scientific and technical developments in the field, proposing or implementing changes of direction as necessary.
  • Introduce and apply new techniques and research methodologies across a wide range of scientific disciplines.
  • Contribute to lab-wide discussions on developments within the laboratory, particularly in the use of new techniques.
  • Have excellent interpersonal skills and interact effectively with a wide range of staff, students and others to ensure the smooth running of research.

Working relationships:
Work in a team with the EM Facilities Manager the EM Engineer and the other EM Research Support Officers. The Facility is overseen by a Group Leader, currently John Briggs. The post-holder will liaise with other Group Leaders, Research Support Staff, Post-Doctoral Scientists and Students across the LMB and with external collaborators. Use of the facility is driven by academic demand.

Additional information:
The above lists are not exhaustive and you are required to undertake such duties as may reasonably be requested within the scope of the post. All employees are required to act professionally, co-operatively and flexibly in line with the requirements of the post and the MRC.

Person Specification
Education/qualifications/training required:

  • Either: a PhD in Biology, Engineering, Physics, Materials Sciences or related subject Or: an equivalent level of experience or training in a relevant area.

Previous work experience required:


  • Extensive experience in the operation of transmission electron microscopes.
  • Experience in the use of cryo-electron microscopy.
  • Experience in training new microscope users.


  • Experience in the maintenance and repair of management of electron microscopes.
  • Experience in the provision of user support.

Knowledge and experience:
Technical skills:

  • Excellent knowledge of precision scientific or technical instrumentation.
  • The ability to acquire new techniques quickly.
  • Good IT skills, including scripting.
  • Knowledge of the use of cryo-electron microscopy for the determination of the structures of biological samples.


  • Excellent knowledge of transmission electron microscopy.
  • Experience in the design of technical instrumentation.

Creativity and initiative:

  • Proven skills in self-motivation. A strong desire to learn new techniques.


  • Has experience in creative and insightful trouble-shooting of complex problems.
  • Has developed new protocols or new methodologies in technical fields.

Independent working:


  • Proven skills in working independently to solve problems.
  • The ability to self-motivate, to organise work-time efficiently and to work accurately using a defined protocol.
  • Ability to independently carry out scientific experimental programme, including design, analysis and write-up.


  • Able to acquire new techniques quickly and independently.
  • Has experience of training others "on the job".

Verbal and written communication skills:

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • Experience in writing reports on work performed.
  • The ability to communicate at different levels of technical complexity with both novice and advanced users, as well as experts including Service Engineers.


  • Experience in writing protocols or help-sheets.
  • Personal skills/behaviours/qualities:


  • Excellent standards of professional conduct.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Strong skills and experience in working collaboratively as a member of a team.
  • Good time management, with an ability to be self-motivated, while working in a small team and having to re-prioritise.
  • A pro-active and conscientious attitude to work.


  • Experience in liaising with users/customers.
  • Ability to multitask in a dynamic environment.


Medical Research Council






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