Research Assistant III - Laboratory of Genetics, Dr. Dmitry Lyumkis

La Jolla, CA
Jan 13, 2021
Employment Type
Full Time
Institution Type
Four-Year Institution

Application Instructions:

Employment History Include your last ten (10) years of employment history, or length of your employment history if less, including all position (even those that are not relevant to this position) and periods of unemployment. Incomplete information could disqualify you from further consideration.


The Research Assistant III position will focus on managing the lab’s activities in the cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) facility, utilizing high-end equipment for cryo-EM, focused-ion-beam (FIB) milling, and light microscopy, performing computational image processing tasks, assisting users with data collection and analysis, training members of the laboratory, and managing the facility for the laboratory. A central component will be the day-to-day operation and management of the cryo-EM infrastructure, which includes multiple electron microscopes, a FIB milling instrument, a cryo-fluorescence microscope, as well as a number of ancillary equipment associated with cryo-EM. The employee will be the intermediary to the electron microscopy facility for the laboratory and will interact closely with members of the lab as well as the general facility manager for the electron microscopy suite. A second component will be utilizing the equipment, together with computational data analysis infrastructure in the lab, to examine and study the structures macromolecular assemblies. The research work will be performed with some supervision from postdoctoral associates, and there will also be an independent research component. A successful candidate will work part of their time with assisting users, training, etc., as well as dedicate part of their time on independent projects and part of their time on supporting postdoctoral researchers in the lab. The Research Assistant will be expected to apply expertise in the EM field and execute experiments and analyze experimental results independently with limited training in specific techniques and methods. The overall goal of the research is to decipher and understand macromolecular structures isolated from and inside of the native cellular environment.



(40%) Electron Microscopy Techniques

  • Operate and maintain electron microscopes, including directly interfacing with laboratory members and facility manager
  • Collect cryo-electron microscopy data on the Titan Krios, Talos Arctica, Talos side-entry, F20, and T12 microscopes using automated data acquisition software (Leginon or SerialEM). Data collection will include workflows for both single-particle and tomographic acquisition.
  • Operate FIB milling instrument for cutting into different cell types and preparing lamellae samples for cryo-ET.
  • Operate the cryo-light microscope for helping to prepare samples for CLEM
  • Operate and maintain ancillary equipment, including the Vitrobot, manual blotter, carbon coater, plasma cleaner, etc.
  • Employ various vitrification techniques for freezing cells and to prepare various cellular specimens for FIB milling
  • Sample preparation supporting single particle workflows

(30%) Computational Image Processing Techniques

  • Utilize workflows for single-particle image processing to analyze and process data acquired on the electron microscopes
  • Explore different strategies for computational data analysis of single-particle and/or cryo-ET data, including utilizing different software, analysis schemes, etc.
  • Explore strategies for sub-tomogram averaging
  • Segment tomographic reconstructions and/or train students for segmentation
  • Interpret single-particle cryo-EM and cryo-ET reconstruction data using molecular models

(30%) Lab Support

  • Assist with general management and maintenance of the electron microscopy facility
  • Attend weekly Monday morning meetings at the cryo-EM facility. Formally update the group about microscopes at weekly Wednesday group meetings and informally as necessary.
  • Provide broader operational support to the facility, including, but not limited to laboratory organization, supply maintenance, compliance with documentation requirements, and other activities, as assigned
  • Perform quality control of reagents as needed.
  • Train and assist lab personnel on research techniques and use of laboratory equipment, including for sample preparation, data collection, and image processing. Assist with general problem solving associated with electron microscopy workflows.
  • Assist in Hazardous, Biohazardous and waste disposal.
  • Assist with maintaining laboratory safety records.
  • Maintain laboratory supplies and equipment, including the cryo-holder, the storage dewars, refilling liquid nitrogen in storage dewars
  • Maintain appropriate inventory of supplies




  • Minimum 4 years of relevant experience or equivalent combination of education and experience in laboratory techniques.
  • Proficient in the operation of standard lab equipment and computer hardware/software
  • Theoretical knowledge of microscopy
  • Track record of working part of a collaborative team
  • Practical hand-on knowledge of electron microscopy, computational image analysis




  • Bachelor's degree in biological sciences, engineering, or related field or equivalent relevant work experience.




  • Theoretical and hands on knowledge of microscopy techniques, especially electron microscopy.
  • Demonstrated knowledge and experience in researching information and analyzing data to arrive at valid conclusions.
  • Skill in the operation and maintenance of various lab equipment.
  • Demonstrated knowledge and experience with both PC and MAC operating systems, standard business office equipment and commonly used software and tools, such as Microsoft Office, electronic mail, and the internet.
  • Proficiency with common office software applications as well as software applications used for research, recording, and analysis.
  • Highly organized, effective at multitasking, adept at juggling changing priorities and able to prioritize.
  • Proven ability to work both independently and also as part of a collaborative team.
  • Excellent communication skills, both oral and written.
  • Strong interpersonal skills, including tact, diplomacy, and flexibility.
  • Demonstrated ability to interact effectively with diverse groups. Demonstrated skill in establishing and maintaining effective working relationships with personnel at all levels.
  • Must be able to work independently with limited direction


  • Theoretical and hands on knowledge of ancillary equipment associated with electron microscopy
  • Theoretical and hands on knowledge of computational techniques
  • Theoretical and hands on knowledge of light microscopy



  • Must be able to work a flexible schedule and extended hours as needed to support research needs.
  • Must be willing to work in an animal-related research environment.
  • Satisfactory completion of the Institute’s background investigation.
  • Must be willing to sign a confidentiality agreement.



This position requires constant adjusting focus, seeing, sitting, and working inside. 

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