Research Assistant/Associate – Biosecurity/DNA data storage (Newcastle, GB)

Newcastle University

  • Full Time


Research Assistant: £31,396 to £32,982 per annum

Research Associate: £33,966 to £41,732 per annum


Newcastle University is a great place to work, with excellent benefits. We have a generous holiday package; plus the opportunity to buy more, great pension schemes and a number of health and wellbeing initiatives to support you.


Closing Date: 21 June 2024



The Role

We are looking for an Information or Coding Theorist or a Cryptographer who is  interested in applying their expertise into Biosecurity and DNA data storage. 


You will join our consortium dedicated to the mission of restoring natural environments by engineering microbial machines. Working at the forefront of information & coding theory and cryptography together with molecular biologists and engineering biologists we will engineer cyanobacteria as a bio-based organic devices to deliver environmental solutions that are cryptographically biosecured by design. 


Our goal is to ensure the utmost safety and traceability using genomic barcoding, watermarking and other cryptographic and DNA data encoding regimes of engineered organisms before deploying them into complex ecosystems.


You will have the opportunity to work closely with experimentalists and have access to state-of-the-art computational and bio-nano-technology equipment to test, debug and improve their theories in living organisms.  The role will require regular liaison with the other investigators in the project, the research group and international collaborators.  You will be required to keep excellent records of all the activities conducted whether these are theoretical, computational experiments, procedures, protocols, workflows or outcomes.  These findings will then be used to communicate within the team and aid in the delivery of the project milestones.


This post is fixed term for a period of 24 months. 


As part of the role you will spend time attending meetings and visiting collaborators' labs in the UK and overseas.


To have a conversation about the opportunity, please contact Professor Natalio Krasnogor at


To apply, please upload a CV and letter of application which outlines how your skills, experiences and knowledge align with the person specification below.


Key Accountabilities

•    Design, implementation, test and debug information theory, coding, and cryptographic schemes for reliably and securely storing data (e.g. barcodes, watermarks, etc) in living organisms and improve their biosecurity
•    Consider the state of the art in error correction techniques in DNA synthesis, DNA sequencing, DNA data storage as well as naturally occurring mutation types and rates to improve biosecurity schemes
•    Develop conceptual and computational frameworks to evaluate the effectiveness of the various schemes developed in 1 & 2 under different realistic experimental in vitro, in vivo and environmental conditions
•    Collaborate with molecular biologists and engineering biologists in the design of wet-lab experiments to validate, debug and improve all of the above
•    Improve the algorithms and tools used or developed in the above based on experimental data obtained
•    Following and establishing good software engineering practices within the project and across the research group's projects (e.g. via use of version control system)
•    Contribution to writing scientific papers
•    Oral presentations at meetings, workshops and conferences

In addition for Research Associate level
•    Contribute to grant writing 
•    Support our group’s social scientist with regards to Responsible Research and Innovation. Contribute as well as the public communication of the project’s science


The Person

Knowledge, Skills and Experience 

•    Demonstrable experience in Coding theory or Information theory or Cryptography
•    Demonstrable expertise in Java, Ruby, Python or C/ C++ programming
•    Competence in Linux or OS X programming environments
•    Knowledge of software version control system (e.g. Git, GitHub, Bitbucket, etc)

In addition for Research Associate level
•    Experience of contributing to grant writing
•    Experience in the utilisation and development of social media for public dissemination
•    Publication of work in peer reviewed in relevant conferences and/or journals

•    Bioinformatics experience
•    Biosecurity experience
•    DNA data storage experience
•    Molecular biology, Synthetic Biology or Biotechnology familiarity
•    Molecular computation, e.g. DNA computing, or molecular fabrication, e.g. DNA or RNA origami techniques or other DNA & RNA programmable self-assembly, etc
•    Presentation of work at scientific meetings


Attributes and Behaviour

•    An independent, resourceful, reliable, team player
•    An ability to communicate effectively via oral and written media (e.g. technical reports, papers, presentations)
•    Capacity for original thought
•    Ability to interact with people from different disciplines
•    Punctual and dependable, showing commitment to the role and wider school
•    Ability to deliver results to tight deadlines



•    An undergraduate degree in computer science, engineering, mathematics, or related fields
•    A PhD in a relevant discipline for appointment at Research Associate level


Newcastle University is a global University where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.  As a University of Sanctuary, we aim to provide a welcoming place of safety for all, offering opportunities to people fleeing violence and persecution.


We are committed to being a fully inclusive university which actively recruits, supports and retains colleagues from all sectors of society.  We value diversity as well as celebrate, support and thrive on the contributions of all of our employees and the communities they represent.  We are proud to be an equal opportunities employer and encourage applications from individuals who can complement our existing teams, we believe that success is built on having teams whose backgrounds and experiences reflect the diversity of our university and student population.


At Newcastle University we hold a silver Athena Swan award in recognition of our good employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.  We also hold a Race Equality Charter Bronze award in recognition of our work towards tackling race inequality in higher education REC.  We are a Disability Confident employer and will offer an interview to disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria for the role as part of the offer and interview scheme.


In addition, we are a member of the Euraxess initiative supporting researchers in Europe. 

Requisition ID: 27132

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