Post-Doctoral Research Assistant in Molecular Ecology

Fixed TermFull Time Research Fellow
  • Post Date: February 8, 2017
  • Salary Range £25,001 - £40,000
  • SALARY & BENEFITS Salary Scale £32,958 - £38,183 per annum
  • INDUSTRY Education
  • Qualification Master’s Degree
Job Description

To promote a flexible workforce, the University will consider applications from individuals seeking full time, part time, job share, or term time only working arrangements.

Applications are invited for a 22 month fixed-term, full-time position (to start May 2017) funded through a NERC responsive mode grant entitled “Using molecular genetics to understand grass species pollen deposition: enhancing bio-aerosol models and implications for human health”. The successful applicant will play a leading role in a collaborative and multidisciplinary team working at the interface between the molecular genetic analysis of aerial pollen composition, aerobiological modelling and human health. This 3 year, £1.2M NERC project which began in March 2016 ( involves combinations of local and national fieldwork in collaboration with Bangor, Worcester and Exeter Universities, as well as the UK Met Office and the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

The key Aberystwyth component of the PollerGEN project will focus on NextGen sequencing of pollen samples alongside genomic approaches to assess biodiversity, bioinformatics and ecological modelling, with the PDRA working closely with a diverse team of collaborators from the fields of plant metabarcoding, aerobiology modelling and environmental epidemiology. In addition, the successful applicant will be expected to communicate the results of the project to policy-makers and stakeholders, including contributions to scientific publications.

Approximately 20% of the UK population suffer from summer allergies and the primary outdoor allergens are grass pollens. Nevertheless, there is currently no easy way of discriminating different species of grass pollen using traditional morphological approaches. Molecular biodiversity identification is emerging as a high throughput and cost effective alternative to existing approaches and in particular, combinations of DNA metabarcoding, qPCR and shotgun sequencing provide a unique analytical suite of molecular approaches to assess grass pollen mixtures both quantitatively and qualitatively. The primary objectives of the broader project are to (a.) develop a species level, spatio-temporal grass pollen molecular genetic assessment framework throughout the UK and (b.) develop novel pollen bioaerosol models in order ultimately to (c.) identify linkages between species-specific grass pollen loadings and human health (i.e. asthma exacerbations).

Candidates should possess a doctoral degree in related areas such as molecular ecology, taxonomy, bioinformatics, botany, evolution/genomics and should ideally have previous experience of high throughput sequencing, bioinformatics and ecological data handling.

Informal inquiries can be made to Dr Gareth Griffith (, Dr Natasha de Vere( or Dr Matt Hegarty (

Institute/Department: Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences
Duration Cyfnod Penodol hyd at 28 Chwefror 2019 / Fixed term to 28 February 2019

Interview Date 15 Mawrth / March 2017

Preferred Start Date 01 Mai / May 2017