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Research Associate in Tribology - King's Climate & Sustainability project

London (Greater) (GB)
£43,205 - £46,732 per annum, including London Weighting Allowance

Job description

This post is for an experienced post-doctoral Researcher in the Green Tribology Lab at King s College London. The successful candidate will deliver multiple experimental research streams over the course of nine months, as part of a King s Climate and Sustainability Project on the topic of Developing alternative fats for healthier, more sustainable food products .

King s College is uniquely positioned to become a major contributor to tackling food security and establish its leadership in plant/fermented food research. Through our Green Tribology Lab, recently built on the Strand campus (central London), we have acquired first-of-its kind testing equipment to investigate food ingredient performance during oral processing, which will enable rapid screening of new foods prior to more cumbersome sensory panels.

The proposed work streams include characterising the mechanisms of saliva-fat lubrication during oral processing (using a state-of-the-art Bruker TriboLab tribometer and employing methods such as optical microscopy, laser-induced florescence and infrared thermal imaging), as well as determining correlations between lab measurements and taste assessments from a trained human panel using machine learning.

The postholder will have the exceptional opportunity to develop expertise in the cutting-edge, high-impact research area of food tribology. They will be exposed to multi-disciplinary research (oral tribology, oral biology, salivary research, optics etc.) and work alongside experts in these fields. Upon completing the study, the Researcher will be invited to publish results in a high-impact journal and apply to other funding streams as a member of the Green Tribology Lab.

This post will be offered on a fixed-term contract for 9 months.

This is a full-time post - 100% full time equivalent.

Key responsibilities

  • Conduct multiple research work streams in aspects of oral tribology, with a focus on investigating saliva-fat interactions and oral delubrication mechanisms by measuring frictional behaviour using a modified Bruker TriboLab and visualising underlying processes using a custom-made, in-situ optical microscopy technique.

  • Analyse results, including visualising corelations between frictional behaviour and recorded images using Matlab scripts, and drawing relevant insights.

  • Develop machine learning models to determine correlations between taste perception and scientific measurements (secondary focus).

  • Support day-to-day activities of the Green Tribology Lab and communicate with industry project partners.

  • Assist with writing of reports to research sponsors.

  • Present findings to collaborators.

  • Provide advice to other members of staff and students.

  • Take the lead on the publication of findings.

  • Develop contacts with the College and wider academic and industry community.

  • Promote the reputation of the Green Tribology Lab and the Department of Engineering.

The above list of responsibilities may not be exhaustive, and the post holder will be required to undertake such tasks and responsibilities as may reasonably be expected within the scope and grading of the post.

Skills, knowledge, and experience

  • Have had exposure to bio-tribology research and have at least a basic understanding or oral processing mechanisms

  • Have significant expertise and experience in running CETR UMT / Bruker TriboLab experiments, or other similar ball-on-disc tribometer

  • Have employed optical microscopy techniques (high speed imaging) in previous research

  • Have strong expertise in using Matlab, particularly for image processing

  • Have significant expertise and experience in using surface analysis instruments including WLI and confocal microscopes

  • Have the ability to work independently, prioritise own work in response to deadlines and organise own activities with limited supervision

  • Be proficient in English and demonstrate excellent verbal and written communication skills

Essential criteria

  1. Hold a PhD or equivalent in Tribology or a closely related discipline, or be able to demonstrate equivalent research experience in an academic or commercial setting

  2. Exposure to Tribology

  3. Expertise in using ball-on-disc tribometers

  4. Expertise in using Matlab

  5. Expertise with optical microscopy techniques

  6. Image processing knowledge

  7. Ability to work independently

  8. Proficient in English

  9. Excellent verbal and written communication skills

Desirable criteria

  1. Machine learning knowledge

* Please note that this is a PhD level role but candidates who have submitted their thesis and are awaiting award of their PhDs will be considered. In these circumstances the appointment will be made at Grade 5, spine point 30 with the title of Research Assistant. Upon confirmation of the award of the PhD, the job title will become Research Associate and the salary will increase to Grade 6.

Further Information

This is a fixed term position for 9 months.

This position is not eligible for a hybrid working structure, as experiments must be conducted on site.

For any enquiries please contact

This post is subject to Occupational Health clearance.

Applicants must have the right to work in the UK. We are unable to offer sponsorship for this post.

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