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Postdoctoral Research Associate – Biomolecular Characterization of Host-Pathogen Interactions

Job ID 3469 Date posted 11/09/2022

Brookhaven National Laboratory ( delivers discovery science and transformative technology to power and secure the nation’s future. Brookhaven Lab is a multidisciplinary laboratory with seven Nobel Prize-winning discoveries, 37 R&D 100 Awards, and more than 70 years of pioneering research. The Lab is primarily supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science. Brookhaven Science Associates (BSA) operates and manages the Laboratory for DOE. BSA is a partnership between Battelle and The Research Foundation for the State University of New York on behalf of Stony Brook University. BSA salutes our veterans and active military members with careers that leverage the skills and unique experience they gained while serving our country. Our organization fully supports service members transitioning from active duty to civilian life and pledge’s our commitment to actively hire veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. Military personnel who have been formally trained or have relevant experience obtained while in service may meet educational requirements and are encouraged to apply for job opportunities at BSA.

Organizational Overview

Researchers in the Biology Department at Brookhaven National Laboratory seek to unravel and fully describe the complexities of biological systems from how plants make oils and other products to the role of proteins in disease. Our work helps to develop and makes use of the tools and techniques of biochemistry, molecular genetics, and structural biology. We also leverage the unique capabilities of Brookhaven’s National Synchrotron Light Source-II, Laboratory for Biomolecular Structure (LBMS) cryo-EM facility, and Center for Functional Nanomaterials, major research facilities open to scientists from around the world. Our research makes important contributions to fulfilling the missions of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences and Office of Biological and Environmental Research. In addition, together with the Collider-Accelerator Department, the Biology Department manages the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory (NSRL) at Brookhaven, which is used by radiobiologists and physicists to study the effects of space radiation on both living and non-living systems with the aim of protecting future astronauts.

Position Description

Supported by Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research, the postdoc will help to develop a “Biopreparedness Research Virtual Environment” (BRaVE) platform to address current and emerging biothreats with an initial focus on the characterization of a fungal disease targeting a bioenergy crop. In this role you will perform biomolecular characterization of pathogen crop interactions through utilization of integrated structural biology and bioimaging tools to investigate the pathogenic processes and dynamics of infection, replication, release, and systemic transmission. Structural biology and bioimaging tools include X-ray crystallography, single-particle cryo-electron microscopy, confocal light microscopy, X-ray tomography, and cryo-electron tomography. Structural mechanisms inspire bioengineering and breeding strategies for creating short-term and long-term mitigation strategies to combating fungal and other bioenergy crops disease. The candidate will also be expected to contribute to efforts in structure-based bioengineering of disease-resistance genes to prevent pathogen infection, replication, transmission, and spread. This position has a high level of interaction with an international and multicultural scientific community.

This research will be supported by state-of-the-art Brookhaven Lab facilities including NSLS-II, Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN), and Laboratory for Biomolecular Structure (LBMS). NSLS-II is a world-leading synchrotron facility that produces high-flux, and low-emittance X-rays for solving a wide range of biological problems via X-ray crystallography and imaging capabilities. CFN has multi-color confocal microscopes for 2D and 3D biological cell and tissue imaging. LBMS provides sample preparation, screening, and high-resolution data collection for both single-particle cryo-EM and cryo-electron tomography capabilities. As part of the BRaVE platform, we are in the process of establishing a cryo-focused ion beam (cryoFIB) for preparation of thin samples to study pathogen crop interactions. This position has a high level of interaction with an international and multicultural scientific community.

Position Requirements

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

  • Protein production and purification using bacterial and insect expression systems. Characterization of protein-protein interactions in  vitro.
  • Assembly of protein complexes and prepare vitrified samples for single-particle cryo-electron microscopy analysis.
  • Transient expression of GFP-tagged proteins in protoplasts or Tabacco leaves and perform subcellular localization experiments using live-cell imaging.
  • Use cryo-focused ion beam (cryo-FIB) to prepare thin samples for cryo-electron cellular tomography.
  • Collect single-particle and electron tomography data and perform data analysis.
  • Dissemination of the research results as progress reports as well as peer-reviewed publications.

Required Knowledge, Skills & Abilities:

  • Ph.D. in molecular biology, biochemistry, biophysics, chemistry, cell biology, plant biology, plant genetics, microbiology, immunology, virology, or a related field.
  • Demonstrated experience in cell culture and protein production through over-expression.
  • Proven abilities for dissemination of research through publication in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Ability to communicate effectively and professionally.
  • Self-motivated and able to work both independently and as part of a team.

PreferredKnowledge, Skills & Abilities:

  • Experience in protein production in a eukaryotic system such as insect, yeast, or mammalian cells.
  • Transient gene expression in plant leaves or protoplasts.
  • Experience in production and analysis of protein complexes or membrane proteins.
  • Experience in cryo-electron microscopy sample preparation, data collection and analysis.
  • Experience in cryo-electron tomography sample preparation, data collection, and analysis.
  • Experience in use of a cryo-focused ion beam (cryo-FIB) for milling biological samples.
  • Experience in studying protein-protein interactions using fluorescence, affinity purification, and Kd measurements.
  • Experience in biological crystallography and diffraction data collection and analysis.

Other information:

  • Review of applications begins immediately. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.
  • Initial 1-year appointment subject to annual renewal contingent on performance and funding.
  • Research is under the direction of Dr. Qun Liu.
  • BNL policy requires that after obtaining their PhD, eligible candidates for research associate appointments may not exceed a combined total of 5 years of relevant work experience as a post-doc and/or in an R&D position, excluding time associated with family planning, military service, illness or other life-changing events.
  • Candidates should submit a CV, a brief description of research interests in a cover letter, and contact information for three references.

At Brookhaven National Laboratory we believe that a comprehensive employee benefits program is an important and meaningful part of the compensation employees receive. Our benefits program includes, but is not limited to:

  • Medical Plans
  • Dental Plans
  • Vacation
  • Holidays
  • Life Insurance
  • 401(k) Plan
  • Paid Parental Leave
  • Swimming Pool, Weight Room, Tennis Courts, and many other employee perks and benefits

Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) is an equal opportunity employer that values inclusion and diversity at our Lab. We are committed to ensuring that all qualified applicants receive consideration for employment and will not be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, status as a veteran, disability or any other federal, state or local protected class.

BNL takes affirmative action in support of its policy and to advance in employment individuals who are minorities, women, protected veterans, and individuals with disabilities. We ensure that individuals with disabilities are provided reasonable accommodation to participate in the job application or interview process, to perform essential job functions, and to receive other benefits and privileges of employment. Please contact us to request accommodation.

*VEVRAA Federal Contractor

Brookhaven employees are subject to restrictions related to participation in Foreign Government Talent Recruitment Programs, as defined and detailed in United States Department of Energy Order 486.1A. You will be asked to disclose any such participation at the time of hire for review by Brookhaven. The full text of the Order may be found at:

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