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Post-doctoral Research Assistant in Optical Microscope Development - Fixed term to the 31st August 2021

University Of Oxford - Department Of Engineering Science, Oxford, United Kingdom
Employer Description

Welcome to the University of Oxford. We aim to lead the world in research and education for the benefit of society both in the UK and globally. Oxford’s researchers engage with academic, commercial and cultural partners across the world to stimulate high-quality research and enable innovation through a broad range of social, policy and economic impacts.

We believe our strengths lie both in empowering individuals and teams to address fundamental questions of global significance, and in providing all of our staff with a welcoming and inclusive workplace that supports everyone to develop and do their best work. Recognising that diversity is a great strength, and vital for innovation and creativity, we aspire to build a truly diverse community which values and respects every individual’s unique contribution.

While we have long traditions of scholarship, we are also forward-looking, creative and cutting-edge. Oxford is one of Europe's most entrepreneurial universities. Income from external research contracts in 2014/15 exceeded £522.9m and ranked first in the UK for university spin-outs, with more than 130 spin-off companies created to date. We are also recognised as leaders in support for social enterprise.

Join us and you will find a unique, democratic and international community, a great range of staff benefits and access to a vibrant array of cultural activities in the beautiful city of Oxford. 

For more information please visit www.ox.ac.uk/about/organisation

Job Description

We are seeking a research scientist to work on a range of microscope development projects with a particular emphasis on adaptive optics technology.  This work will be carried out as part of a growing team of researchers who specialise in optical system development and who work in collaboration with a range of partners within Oxford and elsewhere.  This work is supported by the European Research Council, the Wellcome Trust and other sources.

The project will involve the implementation of new microscope systems or further development of existing systems with a range of modalities, including confocal, multiphoton, and super-resolution (e.g. STORM, STED, SIM). A central aim of the research is the development of adaptive optics techniques for the compensation of specimen-induced aberrations. In addition to putting into practice new instruments, the successful candidate will also work in conjunction with colleagues to bring together theoretical advances in adaptive optics control with end-user applications.  In order to do this, we are working with a range of collaborators from other departments in Oxford (Biochemistry, the Oxford Micron research centre, Pharmacology, Physiology, Institute of Molecular Medicine), in addition to external collaborators (University of Cambridge, Yale University).

The position will be based in the Department of Engineering Science, Parks Road, Oxford, but will also involve activities within other departments in Oxford.

Specific duties:

  • The design and implementation of new microscope systems and the optimisation of existing systems. This will include hardware, optics and software aspects.
  • Close liaison with collaborators for the installation and further development of bespoke microscope systems.
  • Development of adaptive optics systems and control strategies for incorporation into the microscopes
  • Demonstration of new technology, including adaptive optics, in conjunction with collaborators
  • Maintain documentation and records to support future developments, research or commercial exploitaton and dissemination.

Additional duties:

  • Manage own academic research and administrative activities. This involves small scale project management, to co-ordinate multiple aspects of work to meet deadlines
  • Adapt existing and develop new scientific techniques and experimental protocols
  • Test hypotheses and analyse scientific data from a variety of sources, reviewing and refining working hypotheses as appropriate
  • Contribute ideas for new research projects
  • Develop ideas for generating research income, and present detailed research proposals to senior researchers
  • Collaborate in the preparation of scientific reports and journal articles and occasionally present papers and posters
  • Use specialist scientific equipment in a laboratory environment
  • Act as a source of information and advice to other members of the group on scientific protocols and experimental techniques
  • Represent the research group at external meetings/seminars, either with other members of the group or alone
  • Carry out collaborative projects with colleagues in partner institutions, and research groups
  • The researcher may have the opportunity to undertake ad-hoc paid teaching (this includes lecturing, demonstrating, small-group teaching, tutoring of undergraduates and graduate students and supervision of masters projects in collaboration with principal investigators). Permission must be sought in advance for each opportunity and the total must not exceed 4 hours a week.
  • Any other duties appropriate with the role.


Job Requirements

Selection criteria

  • Completed a PhD (or be close to completion) in experimental optics or have equivalent experience.
  • Have significant experience of the design and implementation of complex optical imaging systems, particularly microscopes.
  • Possess sufficient expertise in optical engineering to be able to adapt and optimise existing designs and methods for specific project tasks.
  • The ability to work flexibly within a collaborative research team.
  • A track record of scientific publication commensurate with experience.
  • Evidence of independent motivation in the formulation, planning and implementation of research activities.
  • Demonstrated ability to manage own academic research and associated activities.
  • Excellent communication skills, including the ability to write for publication, present research proposals and results, and represent the research group at meetings.


  • Previous experience of working in teams specialising in technology development.
  • Experience of independently managing a discrete area of a research project.
  • Experience in practical implementation of high resolution optical microscopes.
  • Experience in adaptive optics development.
  • A strong interest in biological imaging.

*please note that ‘near completion’ means that you must have submitted your PhD thesis

How to apply

Before submitting an application, you may find it helpful to read the ‘Tips on applying for a job at the University of Oxford’ document, at www.ox.ac.uk/about/jobs/supportandtechnical/.

 If you would like to apply, click on the Apply Now button on the ‘Job Details’ page and follow the on-screen instructions to register as a new user or log-in if you have applied previously. Please provide details of two referees and indicate whether we can contact them now.   

 You must upload a CV and a supporting statement. The supporting statement should explain how you meet the selection criteria for the post using examples of your skills and experience. This may include experience gained in employment, education, or during career breaks (such as time out to care for dependants).

Your application will be judged solely on the basis of how you demonstrate that you meet the selection criteria stated in the job description.


Please give the details of people who can provide a reference for you. If you have previously been employed, your referees should be people who have managed you, and at least one of them should be your formal line manager in your most recent or current job. Otherwise they may be people who have supervised you in a recent college, school, or voluntary experience. It is helpful if you can tell us briefly how each referee knows you (e.g. ‘line manager’, ‘college tutor’). Your referees should not be related to you.

We will assume that we may approach them at any stage unless you tell us otherwise. If you wish us to ask for your permission before approaching a particular referee, or to contact them only under certain circumstances (for example, if you are called to interview) you must state this explicitly alongside the details of the relevant referee(s).

 Please upload all documents as PDF files with your name and the document type in the filename. 

All applications must be received by midday on the closing date stated in the online advertisement.

Should you experience any difficulties using the online application system, please email recruitment.support@admin.ox.ac.uk. Further help and support is available from www.ox.ac.uk/about_the_university/jobs/support/. To return to the online application at any stage, please go to: www.recruit.ox.ac.uk.

Please note that you will be notified of the progress of your application by automatic emails from our e-recruitment system. Please check your spam/junk mail regularly to ensure that you receive all emails.

Important information for candidates

Pre-employment screening

Please note that the appointment of the successful candidate will be subject to standard pre-employment screening, as applicable to the post. This will include right-to-work, proof of identity and references. We advise all applicants to read the candidate notes on the University’s pre-employment screening procedures, found at: 



Data Privacy

Please note that any personal data submitted to the University as part of the job application process will be processed in accordance with the GDPR and related UK data protection legislation. For further information, please see the University’s Privacy Notice for Job Applicants at: www.admin.ox.ac.uk/councilsec/compliance/gdpr/privacynotices/job/. The University’s Policy on Data Protection is available at: www.admin.ox.ac.uk/councilsec/compliance/gdpr/universitypolicyondataprotection/.  

The University’s policy on retirement

The University operates an Employer Justified Retirement Age (EJRA) for all academic posts and some academic-related posts.  From 1 October 2017, the University has adopted an EJRA of 30 September before the 69th birthday for all academic and academic-related staff in posts at grade 8 and above. The justification for this is explained at: www.admin.ox.ac.uk/personnel/end/retirement/revisedejra/revaim/.

For existing employees, any employment beyond the retirement age is subject to approval through the procedures: www.admin.ox.ac.uk/personnel/end/retirement/revisedejra/revproc/

Form 1 October 2017, there is no normal or fixed age at which staff in posts at grades 1–7 have to retire. Staff at these grades may elect to retire in accordance with the rules of the applicable pension scheme, as may be amended from time to time.

Equality of Opportunity

Entry into employment with the University and progression within employment will be determined only by personal merit and the application of criteria which are related to the duties of each particular post and the relevant salary structure. In all cases, ability to perform the job will be the primary consideration. No applicant or member of staff shall be discriminated against because of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation.

03 July 2019
02 August 2019
Research and Development