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Postdoctoral Research Associate – Oil accumulation in vegetative tissues

Job ID JR100957 Date posted 02/21/2024

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 make use of the tools and techniques of biochemistry, molecular genetics, structural biology, cell biology, and bioimaging. 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 Sciences and the DOE Office of Biological and Environmental Research. In addition, together with the Collider-Accelerator Department, the Biology Department manages the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory at Brookhaven, which is used by radiobiologists and physicists to study the effects of space radiation on both living and non-living systems.

The position is to understand the biochemistry and cell biology of factors and processes that facilitate triacylglycerol (oil) accumulation in plant vegetative tissues.   It is supported by the Center for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Innovation DOE Bioenergy Center headed by the University of IllinoisWe aim to optimize TAG accumulation in vegetative rather than seed tissues because they comprise the bulk of the plant’s biomass, and under normal growth conditions accumulate TAG at less than 0.1% of the dry weight of the biomassIn contrast, seeds of oilcrops are a minor portion of the biomass weight that contain between 25 and 50% TAG (DW), leaving little headroom for improvement and their seedsThe selected candidate will investigate factors hypothesized to be associated with oil accumulation, or combinations with factors known to influence its accumulationThe success of this work will create a TAG feedstock that will contribute to the emerging bioeconomy, by using plants as factories to create net-zero emission feedstocks for the production of biofuels and bioproducts as alternatives to fossil fuels. 

The work will be performed in the Biology department at BNL under the supervision of John ShanklinWe have a fully equipped biochemistry laboratory, and as appropriate, the project will take advantage of advanced Brookhaven National Laboratory advanced facilities including cryo-EM and cryo-FIB, and the structure and imaging facilities at the National Synchrotron Light Source-II Laboratory for Biomolecular Structure and confocal light microscopy and live-cell imaging at the Center for Functional Nanomaterials. This position has a high level of interaction with an international and multicultural scientific community.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Clone and express candidate genes.

  • Use transient and stable plant gene transformation.

  • Genotype transformants and perform analysis to converge transgene expression.  

  • Perform analytical lipid analyses to determine the consequences of various genetic manipulations of metabolismAnalyze the distribution of transgene expression and metabolic perturbations.  

Required Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

  • Ph.D. in plant biology, molecular biology, biochemistry, plant genetics, or a related field

  • Proven abilities to disseminate research through publication in peer-reviewed journals

  • Clear and concise oral and written communication and presentation skills.

  • Self-motivated and able to work both independently and as a team player.

Preferred Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

  • Experience in plant lipid metabolism.

  • Experience in stable transformation of genes or gene stacks.

  • Experience in transient gene expression. 

  • Experience in the use of gas chromatography coupled mass spectrometry.

  • Experience in confocal microscopy and/or laser capture microdissection.

  • Experience in RNA seq.


  • 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. Please contact John Shanklin (  if you have any questions. 

  • Candidates should submit a CV, a brief description of how their research experience relates to this position less than 200 words) in a cover letter and contact information for three references.

  • 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.

  • Candidates must have received a Ph.D. in plant biology, molecular biology, biochemistry, plant genetics, or a related field within the last five years or will have completed all Ph.D. requirements by the commencement of employment.

  • This is a fully onsite position located at BNL.

  • Brookhaven Laboratory is committed to providing fair, equitable and competitive compensation. The full salary range for this position is $72700 - $92150 / year. 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:

Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer

Brookhaven Science Associates 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. BSA 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

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