Research Scientist

Urbana, Illinois
Commensurate with experience
May 10 2021
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

Research Scientist
Materials Research Laboratory
The Grainger College of Engineering
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

The Materials Research Laboratory (MRL) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is seeking a highly motivated Research Scientist to work in its Electron Microscopy instrumentation core facility. The Research Scientist will serve as a member of the MRL Central Research Facilities staff with a focus on enabling soft materials and biological imaging research by training and advising users in electron microscopy - in particular using cryogenic transmission electron microscopy (cryo-TEM) and related methods including specimen preparation, and by engaging in collaboration with various local and regional users on active research projects.

The successful candidate will become a member of the dedicated staff of approximately 20 scientists and engineers, who maintain major research instruments in the MRL's core facilities for electron microscopy, soft materials characterization, scanning probe microscopy, laser and optical spectroscopy, surface analysis, x-ray diffraction, and nanofabrication facilities including two cleanrooms. Approximately 1,000 researchers from across our campus as well as other academic institutions, industry, and national laboratories use the facilities, logging more than 80,000 user hours annually. The lab is recognized as one of the premier mid-sized user facilities in the nation. For details, please visit us online at

The University of Illinois is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action employer that recruits and hires qualified candidates without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, national origin, disability or veteran status. For more information, visit

Responsibilities include:

  • Prepare and deliver primary and advanced training on the various techniques and instrumentation available in the electron microscopy core, particularly in cryo-TEM including sample preparation and vitrification of biological specimens under biological safety levels BSL-1 and BSL-2 environment.
  • Formulate, compile, and distribute suitable suggestions for documentation improvements for collective staff scientist review. Incorporate approved modifications into training documents and procedures. This includes the creation of video and multimedia tutorials.
  • Actively participate in research using electron microscopy techniques in new materials such as soft and biological materials.
  • Perform routine preventative maintenance tasks which vary daily, monthly, and annually for assigned laboratory instrumentation. Examples include daily checks to ensure instruments are running correctly; monthly proactive checks to ensure no hazards are present; annual maintenance service on vacuum pumps and supporting mechanical equipment.
  • Identify hazards and/or potential failure modes by comparing equipment usage and performance to establish safety protocols while conducting user training or performing maintenance. If the equipment is not operating within tolerances or any engineering safety controls are malfunctioning, determine corrective actions to hardware, operating procedures or user training in conjunction with the assigned staff scientist and implement the changes.
  • Give oral presentations to large audiences, including recording training material for media outlets, and online, live video streaming.
  • Crosstrain in other facility techniques in order to act as backup for other staff members and increase knowledge and experience.
  • Perform facility-wide safety tasks as assigned.
  • Conduct department or campus specified lab inspections for assigned operating areas and participate in reviews of non-assigned areas as requested.
  • Assume additional responsibilities to promote the unit's mission as needed.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Ph.D. in engineering, chemical, biological, physical sciences, or related field.
  • One year of hands-on experience operating general transmission electron microscopy, cryo-TEM, scanning electron microscopy, and fluorescent confocal microscopy.
  • One year of hands-on experience with sample preparation techniques for biological materials such as negative staining, microtomy, epoxy embedding, plunge freezing and high-pressure freezing.
  • Demonstrated understanding and implementation of biological safety level 1 and 2 laboratory protocols in a research environment.
  • One year of experience as laboratory manager with responsibility of overseeing the day-to-day safety and operation of a bio research lab.
  • One year of instructional/training experience delivering technical information in core facilities laboratories.
  • Previous experience creating/developing instructional, instrument operation, and training material in electron microscopy.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Hands-on experience with a cryo-TEM system such as the Glacios or Krios systems from ThermoFisher, and the JEOL 2100 TEM or equivalent systems.
  • Experience with single particle analysis, cryo-electron tomography and general molecular structure of soft and biological systems.
  • Experience in a service laboratory environment involving soft and biological specimens which requires discussing projects with prospective clients, planning and carrying out sample preparation and analysis, and delivering analytical reports on a timely basis.

This is a full-time, benefits-eligible academic professional position appointed on a 12-month service basis. The expected start date is as soon as possible. Salary is commensurate with experience and qualifications.

To apply for this position, please create your candidate profile at and upload your cover letter, CV/resume, and names/contact information for three references as a single PDF file by June 3, 2021. For further information regarding application procedures, contact Summer Redman at or 217-300-5400.

The University of Illinois conducts criminal background checks on all job candidates upon acceptance of a contingent offer. The University of Illinois System requires candidates selected for hire to disclose any documented finding of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment and to authorize inquiries to current and former employers regarding findings of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment. For more information, visit "Policy on Consideration of Sexual Misconduct in Prior Employment."

As a qualifying federal contractor, the University of Illinois System uses E-Verify to verify employment eligibility. The University of Illinois must also comply with applicable federal export control laws and regulations and, as such, reserves the right to employ restricted party screening procedures for applicants.