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Postdoctoral Research Associate – Biomolecular Characterization of Plant-Pathogen Interactions

Job ID JR100625 Date posted 10/12/2023

Supported by the Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research, this position will help develop a “Biopreparedness Research Virtual Environment” (BRaVE) platform to address current and emerging biothreats with an initial focus on the biomolecular characterization of a fungal disease targeting a bioenergy crop. The ideal candidate will perform biomolecular characterization of plant-pathogen interactions through the utilization of integrated cell biology, biochemistry, structural biology, and bioimaging tools to investigate the pathogenic processes and the dynamics of infection, replication, release, and systemic transmission. Structural biology and bioimaging tools may include but are not limited to 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 for combating fungal and other bioenergy crop diseases. So, the candidate will also be expected to perform structure-based bioengineering of disease-resistance genes to prevent pathogen infection, replication, transmission, and spread.

This research will be supported by state-of-the-art Brookhaven Lab facilities including NSLS-II, CFN, and 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, scattering, 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 single-particle cryo-EM, cryo-electron tomography, and volume EM capabilities. This position has a high level of interaction with an international and multicultural scientific community.

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 pathology, plant genetics, microbiology, immunology, virology, or a related field
  • Demonstrated experience in cell/plant culture and protein production through over-expression.
  • Proven abilities for dissemination of research through publication in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Ability to communicate effectively and diplomatically.
  • 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 the 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 the use of a cryo-focused ion beam (cryo-FIB) for milling biological samples.
  • Experience in characterizing biological samples using synchrotron X-rays.
  • Experience in studying protein-protein interactions using fluorescence, affinity purification, and Kd measurements.
  • Experience in volume electron microscopy for biological samples.
  • 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 Ph.D., 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.
  • BNL offers competitive compensation commensurate with relevant experience and qualifications. Candidates should submit a CV, a brief description of research interest (less than 20 words) in a cover letter and contact information for three references.
  • This is an onsite position located at BNL

Brookhaven Laboratory is committed to providing fair, equitable and competitive compensation. The full salary range for this position is $64,000-85,000-106,000. Salary offers will be commensurate with the final candidate’s qualification, education and experience and considered with the internal peer group.

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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