Recruiting for UKRI and UK SBS

Operations with the Octopus facility: imaging protein function DNA damage and the mTOR pathway Industrial Placement - STFC

Early Careers
210000W7 Requisition #

Science and Technology Facilities Council 

The Lasers for Science Facility (LSF) at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory develops and provides access to advanced laser techniques for the scientific community.  

Working as a member of the Imaging team in the Research Complex at Harwell, this placement will be involved in developing aspects of the imaging facilities, known as OCTOPUS (Optics Combined To OutPut Unique Solutions). The OCTOPUS combines super resolution, confocal and single molecule microscopy (multicolour and multiphoton), fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM), fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET), and image correlation spectroscopy (ICS) to investigate the conformation and interactions of molecules in cells  

Optical tweezers will be integrated into the light sheet cluster to enable the manipulation of samples. The science programmes of Octopus include the use of FLIM for the investigation of complexes used for medical imaging (collaboration with Oxford, Bath, and Manchester Universities). We also use single molecule techniques to study the complex signalling pathways of cells (STFC, King’s College London, Oxford, and Cambridge), using FRET/FLIM combined with optical trapping to study the secretory pathways of plants (Oxford Brookes, Exeter University and STFC), and using confocal microscopy to study DNA damage and repair (STFC and Oxford).  

Summary of Key Duties & Responsibilities  

This placement will be part of a team, assisting researchers from universities and industry and will be encouraged to gain hands-on experience of using laser systems and diagnostic equipment, cell and molecular biology. 

During the year, the successful student will be encouraged to carry out projects to develop and extend the capabilities of OCTOPUS. In particular, the work will be directed towards the integration new microscopic techniques to a range of end station. This will be applied to novel biological questions such as how cells deploy proteins for DNA damage and repair and via the mTOR pathway.

Projects will include:  

  • Combining the optical tweezers instrumentation with the light sheet microscope, allowing the manipulation of organelles within cells, as well as measuring interaction forces in chemical and biological systems 
  • Working with the two confocal microscope systems (multiphoton and multicolour) to provide a common user interface, allowing the easy exchange of samples between microscopes 
  • Developing a time resolved anisotropy imaging technique 
  • Combining confocal and single molecule techniques to allow the collection of complementary information on intracellular location, molecular interactions and conformation 

We are looking for a student who has a background in life and physical sciences. An interest in computing, optics or electronics would be an advantage but are not essential. 

Are you looking to be supported? Full training will be given in all aspects of general laboratory work and the operation of specialised equipment and lasers. Projects will also be selected according to the student’s interest.  

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  
  • 3 A’Levels- scientific, minimum 2 years higher education (pre degree) 
  • Laboratory experience working with biochemical and/or chemical spectroscopy and /or instrumentation. 
  • Very good level of spoken and written English 


  • Ability to perform literature search to assess related work related to activities within the group 
  • An interest in computing, optics or electronics 

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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