Research Assistant / Associate in optical engineering and instrument development

Job summary

The successful applicant will work on several projects in the Rowlands Lab, starting with two: to create a rapidly-reprogrammable optical filter, and to create a fluorescence diffuse optical tomography system to control drug production in a bioreactor. The first project will involve building a high-precision optical system to create interference patterns in a photorefractive polymer. The resulting patterned polymer acts as an optical filter,...

Job listing information

  • Reference ENG00780
  • Date posted 26 March 2019
  • Closing date 5 May 2019

Job description

Job summary

The successful applicant will work on several projects in the Rowlands Lab, starting with two: to create a rapidly-reprogrammable optical filter, and to create a fluorescence diffuse optical tomography system to control drug production in a bioreactor.
The first project will involve building a high-precision optical system to create interference patterns in a photorefractive polymer. The resulting patterned polymer acts as an optical filter, with the key property that it can be rapidly reconfigured to mimic any other optical filter profile the user desires. The filter will then be used in hyperspectral imaging applications, such as counter-terrorism (locating chemical and biological weapons), medical imaging, environmental monitoring and industrial quality control. The second project will be to build a system that can monitor and control an experimental bioreactor. This bioreactor uses fluorescent reporters to monitor reaction conditions; the successful applicant will build a diffuse optical tomography to monitor these reporters and maximise synthetic yield on a large scale.
Applicants will be expected to have expertise in constructing optical instrumentation and writing software to control laboratory instrumentation. For both systems they will finalize a prototype design, build it, develop any necessary electronic control systems and program the control software. For the second project, they will also be expected to develop software to process the fluorescence diffuse optical tomography data and return an accurate estimate of the fluorescence distribution.
The post will be undertaken in the Rowlands Lab in the Department of Bioengineering, in close collaboration with Dr Karen Polizzi and Dr Cleo Kontoravdi in the Department of Chemical Engineering. The laboratory environment is highly multidisciplinary, thus candidates with a willingness to learn and strong problem-solving skills are especially welcome.

Duties and responsibilities

Main duties:
• Finalize optical and mechanical design for the two described instruments
• Work with workshop technicians to build any necessary custom components
• Build and align all systems with precision and attention to detail
• Program any necessary software to operate the instruments
• Write software to process any captured data
• Test and debug both systems
• Work with collaborators to meet project requirements, including incorporating feedback at every stage.

Other duties:
• Act as a role model for other group members regarding health and safety, ethics and good research technique
• Work closely with collaborators
• Publish papers and present at multiple international conferences
• Assist in writing further grant applications and developing new projects
• Help out with group administration, public access to science and lab social events

Essential requirements

You will:
- have, or be about to receive a PhD (or equivalent) in a relevant subject (Physics, Engineering, Photonics etc.)
- have experience in the development of optical systems, including some programming and data analysis experience.
- have a good track record of academic publications commensurate with your current research experience
- have excellent time management, problem solving and communication skills, particularly in an academic environment
- be able to work well as part of a team, including with students.
- have experience designing, building and aligning optical systems
- be able to process large image datasets and perform computational data analysis
- have a well-developed problem solving ability
- have good communication skills, in an academic context

You will have knowledge of programming hardware devices (Python, LabVIEW, Matlab, C / C++, Java etc.)
You will be a quick learner, able to tackle new problems with minimal training or guidance

Further information

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, and candidates will be interviewed until the role is filled. Potential applicants will need to apply online.

The Rowlands laboratory has a strong personal development policy, and assistance and support will be offered to candidates who wish to apply for research fellowships or develop their professional skills over the course of their employment.

Should you require any further details on the role please contact: Dr Christopher Rowlands – c.rowlands@imperial.ac.uk

Any queries regarding the application process should be directed to Jo Adam, i.adam@imperial.ac.uk.

For technical issues when applying online please email recruitment@imperial.ac.uk

The College is a proud signatory to the San-Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), which means that in hiring and promotion decisions, we evaluate applicants on the quality of their work, not the journal impact factor where it is published. For more information, see https://www.imperial.ac.uk/research-and-innovation/about-imperial-research/research-evaluation/

The College believes that the use of animals in research is vital to improve human and animal health and welfare. Animals may only be used in research programmes where their use is shown to be necessary for developing new treatments and making medical advances. Imperial is committed to ensuring that, in cases where this research is deemed essential, all animals in the College’s care are treated with full respect, and that all staff involved with this work show due consideration at every level. http://www.imperial.ac.uk/research-and-innovation/about-imperial-research/research-integrity/animal-research/

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About Imperial College London

Imperial College London is the UK’s only university focussed entirely on science, engineering, medicine and business and we are consistently rated in the top 10 universities in the world.

You will find our main London campus in South Kensington, with our hospital campuses located nearby in West and North London. We also have Silwood Park in Berkshire and state-of-the-art facilities in development at our major new campus in White City.

We work in a multidisciplinary and diverse community for education, research, translation and commercialisation, harnessing science and innovation to tackle the big global challenges our complex world faces.

It’s our mission to achieve enduring excellence in all that we do for the benefit of society – and we are looking for the most talented people to help us get there.

Additional information

Please note that job descriptions cannot be exhaustive and the post-holder may be required to undertake other duties, which are broadly in line with the above key responsibilities.

All Imperial employees are expected to follow the 7 principles of Imperial Expectations: 

  • Champion a positive approach to change and opportunity
  • Communicate regularly and effectively within, and across, teams
  • Consider the thoughts and expectations of others
  • Deliver positive outcomes
  • Encourage inclusive participation and eliminate discrimination
  • Develop and grow skills and expertise
  • Work in a planned and managed way 

In addition to the above, employees are required to observe and comply with all College policies and regulations.

Imperial College is committed to equality of opportunity, to eliminating discrimination and to creating an inclusive working environment. We are an Athena SWAN Silver award winner, a Stonewall Diversity Champion, a Disability Confident Employer and work in partnership with GIRES to promote respect for trans people.