Recruiting for UKRI and UK SBS

Biological Sample Environment Research Industrial Placement - STFC

Early Careers
210000W3 Requisition #

Science and Technology Facilities Council

Within STFC, ISIS is a world leading facility for scientific research using neutron scattering and muon spectroscopy, with a strong scientific user programme and extensive international links. We support a national and international community of more than 2000 scientists for research into subjects ranging from clean energy and the environment, pharmaceuticals and health care, through to nanotechnology, materials engineering and IT, as well as fundamental physics and chemistry investigations. 

The Small Angle Neutron Scattering (SANS) Group at ISIS operates four neutron scattering diffractometers, as well as a variety of sample environments in close collaboration with the Soft Matter Section of the Sample Environment Group. Sample environment setups include changers and rheometers to study soft matter, magnets for the study of hard matter and various flow-regime kits for in-line SANS measurements on biomolecules. The latter setups include a stopped-flow instrument where online rapid mixing of two or more solutions allows the study of in-situ structural kinetics of fast reactions with SANS.  

Stopped-flow SANS is particularly useful in probing interactions between drugs and biomembranes, self-assembly kinetics of virus nucleocapsids. NUrF is a custom apparatus developed in collaboration with the University of Lund and the ESS.It enables the quasi-simultaneous measurement of SANS, UV-visible and fluorescence spectroscopy as well as densitometry. The additional characterisation techniques enable the monitoring of the sample state produced by automated sample preparation techniques. 

Size-Exclusion Chromatography online use ensures that samples flow directly from the SEC column into the SANS measuring cell, allowing the separation of polydisperse mixtures and determination of the solution structure of monodisperse samples. SEC-SANS, in conjunction with contrast matching and deuteration, could address more complex questions2. This may involve studies of protein complexes, multiprotein assemblies, or protein-DNA/RNA complexes.  

Summary of Key Duties & Responsibilities  

The aim of the project is to develop efficient experimental methods for the characterization of biological complexes with stopped and continuous flow setups on SANS beamlines. As such, it offers the unique opportunity of combining biophysical experimental work and technical development. It is also anticipated that the experimental work will result in at least one peer-reviewed publication.  

The work will include: 

  • Commissioning and testing of bespoke HPLC system on ISIS TS2 SANS instruments. The testing will cover the optimization of SEC-SANS experimental procedures for different biological systems. The commissioning will include the optimization of flow rates, operation in stopped-flow mode and the custom design of variable-thickness flow cell compatible various beam sizes and injection volumes
  • Improving efficiency and usability the NUrF apparatus. An investigation of alternative methods and equipment for the automated sample preparation system will be carried out. Improved methods for the calibration, inspection and output of spectroscopy data will be developed

Are you looking for full support throughout a placement? The project will be carried out jointly between the ISIS SANS group and the Soft Matter Section of the Sample Environment Group.  

1 NUrF—Optimization of in situ UV–vis and fluorescence and autonomous characterization techniques with small-angle neutron scattering instrumentation. Review of Scientific Instruments, 91, 075111, 2020. 

2 Biological Small Angle Scattering: Techniques, Strategies and Tips. Barnali Chaudhuri, Inés G. Muñoz, Shuo Qian, Volker S. Urban, 2017.  

In order to apply for this role you must have:  


  • At university, enrolled on an undergraduate degree course and required or have requested to take a year out of studies to gain experience within industry  
  • Right to live and work in the UK  
  • Studying for a degree in Biochemistry/Biophysics, with a strong academic record  
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills  
  • Ability to work as part of a wider team, as well as on own initiative  
  • Proficient in the use of Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint or similar products 


  • Some familiarity with X-ray or neutron scattering, particularly small-angle or/and diffraction 
  • Evidence of independent bio-lab work from e.g. previous summer placement  
  • Basic awareness of project context 

About The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) 

The STFC is a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation where curiosity, blue-skies thinking meets practical, application-led science and engineering. Our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world. 

As one of Europe’s largest research organisations, we’re trusted to support, enable and undertake ground-breaking projects in an outstanding diversity of fields. Through world-class facilities and people, we’re driving progressive advances in science, engineering, computing and technology. Our research seeks to understand the Universe from the largest astronomical scales to the tiniest constituents of matter, yet creates impact on a very tangible, human scale. 

For more information about STFC please visit 

You can also visit our careers site 

About UK Research Innovation (UKRI) 

UKRI is an organisation that brings together the seven disciplinary research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Together, we build an independent organisation with a strong voice and vision ensuring the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation. 

Supporting some of the world’s most exciting and challenging research projects, we develop and operate some of the most remarkable scientific facilities in the world. We are pushing the frontiers of human knowledge through fundamental research and delivering benefits for UK society and the economy through world-class research, skills and business-led innovation. 

More information can be found at  

How we support EDI in the workforce 

At UKRI, we believe that everyone has a right to be treated with dignity and respect, and to be provided with equal opportunities to thrive and succeed in an environment that enables them to do so. We also value diversity of thought and experience within inclusive groups, organisations and the wider community. For further information, please visit ‘How we support EDI in the workforce’

Disability Confident Employer

As users of the disability confident scheme, we guarantee to interview all disabled applicants who meet the minimum criteria for the vacancy/ies. We will 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. 

How to apply 

Online applications only preferred for this role. Please submit a CV and covering letter which clearly outlines how you fulfil the criteria specified along with your motivation for UKRI and the role. Ensure that the job reference number is included in the filename description of each document uploaded. Note that failure to address the above criteria or submit an application without a covering letter may result in the application not being considered. Assessment will only be based upon the content of your submitted covering letter and CV and not the ‘experience’ section of the application. 

UKRI seeks to ensure it creates and maintains a system of openness, fairness and inclusion – a collaborative, trusted environment, which is attractive to and accessible to everyone who is interested in developing their career with us. 

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