Project Scientist, Steps I - IV - Prog Director for Security Engagements, EBRC & Keasling Laboratory


Open date: October 16th, 2018

Next review date: October 30th, 2018

Apply by this date to ensure full consideration by the committee.

Final date: November 15th, 2018

Applications will continue to be accepted until this date, but those received after the review date will only be considered if the position has not yet been filled.


Associate Project Scientist, Steps I-V, Project Scientist, Steps I - IX - Program Director for Security Engagements, Engineering Biology Research Consortium & Keasling Laboratory Director of Laboratory Operations –– QB3

This position is split between the Engineering Biology Research Consortium (EBRC) and the Keasling Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley.

The EBRC supports and promotes the vision and goals of the synthetic biology community by providing the future vision for synthetic biology, bringing together industrial and research communities, catalyzing leading-edge research and education programs, establishing training resources for synthetic biologists, and promoting and engaging in dialogue about synthetic biology among policy makers and other members of the public. Its mission is to strengthen the research and education communities, articulate compelling research visions and goals, and align those visions and goals with pressing national and global challenges, all while engaging the research and education communities, government and industry stakeholders, and the public about the opportunities and challenges of engineering biology.

The Project Scientist will be responsible for EBRC’s national and homeland security engagement. This position is conducting public policy (science policy) research related to the advancement of the field of synthetic biology with a specific focus on security topics relevant to the field. Working with EBRC’s academic and institutional membership, the director will work with the EBRC Executive Director and Security Working Group to achieve engagement objectives. They will develop communication materials that will allow synthetic biology researchers to improve security considerations of the work they do. They will present these materials to the community and publish them as appropriate.

The Keasling Lab harnesses biology to address diverse critical global challenges in the areas of renewable biomanufacturing, human health, and bioenergy. We are a multidisciplinary team of scientists and engineers working together to engineer microbes to produce drugs, chemicals, and fuels. Our mission is to develop foundational tools for engineering metabolism inside cells and to use those tools to solve important societal problems. We have created a variety of tools for regulating metabolic pathways inside cells, novel metabolic pathways to produce unnatural molecules, and robust microbial hosts for producing chemicals under a variety of industrial conditions. We have used these tools to produce the antimalarial drug artemisinin, a variety of commodity and specialty chemicals, and biofuels.

The Project Scientist/Keasling Laboratory’s Director of Laboratory Operations will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of Keasling’s multi-disciplinary research lab comprised of approximately 30 lab members. The incumbent is responsible for understanding the portfolio of funded research and ensuring that research efforts support the research directions and projects funded. The Director will mentor graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to provide guidance in research approaches and direction. As well, he/she will identify funding opportunities and work with lab members to develop proposals that are responsive to agency interests.


Core duties of the position include, but are not limited to:


  • Working with the EBRC members and the synthetic biology community to identify threats and opportunities into its ongoing roadmapping activities.
  • Develop outreach and engagement initiative to improve security considerations in engineering biology research. Develop outreach tools and materials that will encourage researchers to incorporate security considerations into their work. Run pilot workshops to assess and refine the tools and materials developed.
  • Leading the effort to draft, edit, and publish a research roadmap specifically related to security in the field of synthetic biology which will include a roadmap to build internal DoD capacity in synthetic biology and address issues of importance to the Department of Homeland Security. This will require working with EBRC academic members, government and industry representatives to develop consensus on the content of a stand-alone document that will build on the general roadmap being developed for synthetic biology with a focus on: (A) highlighting areas of ongoing research of particular importance to the DoD mission; (B) identifying gaps of particular importance to the DoD; (C) defining areas of potential collaboration between DoD service labs and academia/industry.
  • Leading workshops focusing on defense aspects of synthetic biology. The workshop will serve a dual purpose: 1) presenting roadmapping concepts to DoD and 2) exposing the synthetic biology research community to defense mission and concerns. Leading other topical workshops relevant to the incumbents’ field of expertise.
  • Developing expert knowledge on trends in national and global research and security issues in engineering biology and periodically publishing and presenting on these trends and specifically in the area of security. As well, developing briefing materials for senior US Government leadership.
  • Maintaining relationships with the academic, government and industrial research communities, including those beyond EBRC, as well as relevant security communities.
  • Researching the current funding mechanisms for the field, identifying and assessing barriers and opportunities that will allow for success and recommending actions based on that research.
  • Independently analyzing both the state of the field and policy issues from various sectors to be synthesized and published.

Keasling Laboratory -

  • Holding meetings with postdocs and graduate students to create a vibrant research community, foster multidisciplinary collaboration and ensure that adequate progress is being made on funded research efforts.
  • Monitoring the strategic direction of research and facilitating brainstorming sessions with collaborators and Keasling lab researchers to define approaches, ensure research objectives are being met or redefined, and identify new ideas for research directions.
  • Identifying and pursuing opportunities for additional funding from federal and state agencies. This includes collaborating with the collaborators and Keasling lab members to write successful proposals. Coordinating feedback from NSF, NIH, other government agencies, and Industrial membership on relevant directions of research and preparing periodic progress reports and annual/final reports.
  • Ensuring the Keasling laboratory is operating in a safe manner following UCB and LBNL EH&S requirements.
  • Ensuring Keasling laboratory research is carried out following accepted research integrity guidelines and practices.
  • Coordinating efforts to automate polyketide synthase engineering.

Minimum/Basic Qualifications required at the time of application: The candidate must have a PhD or equivalent international degree.

Additional Qualifications required by the start date of the job: Must have a minimum of 7 years of post-PhD research experience. Candidate must have experience working with US government agencies to understand their goals and needs. Secondary experience such as working on a government contract through another organization/agency is acceptable.

Preferred Qualifications: A PhD or equivalent international degree in engineering biology, bioengineering, chemical engineering, biology, chemistry, or biophysics and have a minimum of 7 years or more experience working in a state- of-the-art research environment and/or multi-disciplinary environment including direct interactions with the research enterprise. Incumbent must have direct expertise in security issues related to engineering biology.

Extensive understanding of national security issues and the communities involved in these issues including the US Department of Defense and the US Department of Homeland Security. Experience in engineering polyketide synthases.

The candidate must have demonstrated expertise in science policy and the ability to work at the interface of research and government. Demonstrated communication and interpersonal skills, including experience writing for diverse audiences. Broad technical background in engineering biology to synthesize inputs from a diverse group of EBRC members. The candidate must have a demonstrated deep technical background and the requisite professional experiences to independently conduct research and publish. Demonstrated experience developing patentable and transferable technologies.

Salary: This is a full-time position. Salary is commensurate with experience.

How to apply:

To apply, please go to the following link: 

This position will be open until filled. The anticipated start date is December 1, 2018. This appointment is for two – three years and may be renewable based on performance and availability of funding. Please address inquiries to Che Ly,

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age or protected veteran status. For the complete University of California nondiscrimination and affirmative action policy see:

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