• Research Assistant

    Job ID
    Location : Location
    US-MA-Woods Hole
  • Job Summary

    Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is currently searching for a Research Assistant to join the Biology Department. This is a temporary, full-time, exempt position, available for a period of one year from date of hire, renewable depending on performance and funding availability, and is eligible for benefits.


    We are seeking a highly motivated individual with prior laboratory experience to assist with multiple research projects.  The successful candidate will assist with investigations of the ecology and dynamics of harmful algal blooms, with an emphasis on Alexandrium dinoflagellates in the Arctic, and benthic dinoflagellates associated with ciguatera.  The candidate will participate in both laboratory and field studies using established methods, and will help troubleshoot/refine these techniques as necessary.  Online application forms should be submitted with a detailed cover letter and full curriculum vitae including contact information for three references.  We would like to have the new hire in place by mid to late May 2020 (or earlier), so please state your availability.


    The internal working titles for this position could be either Research Assistant I, Research Assistant II or Research Assistant III. The final level of the position will be determined commensurate with the selected candidate's level of education and experience. 


    Essential Functions

    • Coordination of sampling logistics and communication with research collaborators, including the preparation of sampling kits, responding to requests for supplies and information as needed, and preparing training materials.
    • Laboratory analysis of dinoflagellate cell abundance using fluorescent and light microscopy, as well as molecular techniques (DNA extraction, qPCR, microsatellite genotyping). Applicants should note that extensive microscope work will be required.
    • Maintaining and establishing phytoplankton cultures (media preparation, cell and cyst isolation, culture observation, and transfer), and carrying out culture-based growth experiments.
    • Data organization, analysis, and plotting, contributing to project reports, assisting with website content development and updates using Wordpress, as well as providing administrative and logistical support as needed.
    • Train other students and investigators in sampling and laboratory techniques, and assist other researchers in our lab with their projects as necessary.
    • Participation in field work, including an NSF-funded research cruise in the Alaskan Arctic in August 2020, along with other lab personnel.
    • Participation in field work in the Nauset Marsh System on Cape Cod to collect water and sediment samples, as well as in field studies in Florida and elsewhere, as needed. 
    • Good troubleshooting skills, effective time management, ability to work independently, and attention to detail and organization are essential.

    Research Assistant I:

    With close supervision, uses established laboratory procedures to perform prescribed research tasks determined by field of study and scope of individual research project.


    Research Assistant II

    With some supervision, employs established laboratory procedures, standard equipment, and fundamental concepts to conduct research tasks determined by field of study and scope of individual research project.


    Research Assistant III:

    With little supervision, applies a broad knowledge of laboratory principles, equipment, and procedures to the completion of moderately difficult assignments determined by field of study and scope of individual research project.



    • As deemed necessary by supervisor

    Education & Experience



    Research Assistant I:

    Bachelor's degree, or Associate's degree in related field plus one year related experience


    Research Assistant II:

    Bachelor's degree in related field, or Bachelor's degree in non-related field plus two years' related experience


    Research Assistant III:

    Master's degree in related field, or Bachelor's degree in related field plus three years' related experience, or Bachelor's degree in nonrelated field plus five years' related experience



    • Applicants must have a B.S. in Biology or related field (M.S. preferred), with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher (official transcripts required), as well as excellent academic and professional references, and prior involvement in laboratory and field research. 

    The following background experience is particularly desirable:

    • Involvement in research programs of harmful algal blooms or phytoplankton
    • Prior research cruise experience
    • Collection and processing of water and sediment samples for phytoplankton cell and/or cyst enumeration
    • Microscopic enumeration of dinoflagellate cells and cysts
    • Molecular biology techniques (e.g., DNA extraction, PCR/qPCR)
    • Phytoplankton culture maintenance
    • Ability to operate small boats
    • Familiarity with data analysis and statistics

    Physical Requirements

    Physical duties for this position include but are not limited to ability to lift less than 25 lb per day and carry up to 10 lb per day as well as reaching above and below the shoulders, stooping/kneeling, and climbing ladders/stools. Must have the ability to use hands for basic grasping/manipulation as well as fine manipulation. Visual abilities to include depth perception, ability to adjust vision to bring objects into focus, and ability to distinguish basic colors. The occupational requirements for this position are the ability to work with and around other individuals in a lab setting and at sea, as well as alone. Visual abilities of near vision needed as well having the ability to hear, respond, talk, and travel. May be exposed to hazardous substances or specimens.  Physical duties are subject to change.

    Sea Duty

    May work at least 8 hours per day and, at times in excess of 12 hours per day, 7 days per week. Sleep and work hours can deviate from those on land. May be expected to work on watch schedule (such as 8 hours on and 8 hours off or 12 hours on and 8 hours off) for all or part of a cruise or to work as hours are needed to accomplish the planned work. May need to travel during holidays and for long distances to and from foreign ports. May experience rudimentary living and working conditions, with shared and basic living quarters and laboratories. May experience bad or extreme weather conditions, including heavy seas, winter weather or hot, tropical weather. Work on deck may occur in both hot and cold conditions around the clock. Sea conditions will lead to active ship motion. Should be able to climb steep and vertical ladders and able to enter and exit compartments through hatches, doors, and sills. Should be able to carry heavy gear and participate in the loading and unloading of the ship as well as in the activities on deck and in the labs during the cruise. Shipboard environment may include: confined areas, shared sleeping quarters (berths) and bathroom facilities, small and basic berthing, fixed meal times and basic menus. Modest levels of heating, cooling, ventilation, and illumination, limited or no email and internet access and limited off-duty and recreational facilities (library, lounge, movies). May be exposed to potential allergens and irritants, including paint fumes. May experience constant and intermittent loud noises, and slippery and uneven surfaces.


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