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Research Associate

Lancaster Environment Centre
Salary:   £31,396 to £36,024
Closing Date:   Friday 06 October 2023
Interview Date:   Friday 20 October 2023
Reference:  1067-23

We are looking for a post-doctoral researcher to work on a new Forestry Commission funded project entitled “Priming tree seed for enhanced germination and stress resilience”. The position is available from December 2023 for 16 months, in the research group of Dr Mike Roberts in the Lancaster Environment Centre.

The group works on plant responses to stress, with a particular focus on stress memory, or ‘priming’. This new project is part of a well-established, long-term collaboration with a commercial partner. Together, we successfully commercialized seed treatments that prime plants for long-term biotic stress resistance (New Phytologist (2012) 193: 770-778), and we were amongst the first to demonstrate transgenerational, epigenetic inheritance of stress priming in plants (Plant Physiology (2012) 158: 844-853).

In this project, you will be tasked with applying a newly developed seed priming technique based on irradiation with defined wavelengths of light, which promotes germination and provides abiotic stress tolerance. The extended dormancy of seeds of many tree species is a major bottleneck for nurseries, whilst losses of saplings following transplantation due to biotic and abiotic stress are increasing due to climate change. The project will help determine whether our new priming treatment can alleviate these problems and provide a cost-effective and sustainable solution to commercial growers. In addition to our long-term commercial collaborator, we are also partnered for this project with a major tree nursery, The Arium, to ensure that our work is relevant to the industry. Experience of communicating your work to a wider stakeholder group would be an advantage.

You are required to hold a PhD (or close be to completion/submission of a PhD) in a relevant field, have a strong background in plant physiology techniques and an interest in finding sustainable solutions to commercial plant production under a changing climate. Experience in working with seed dormancy and germination would also be an advantage. We are looking for a highly motivated individual with excellent communication skills and the capacity to work well in a team. A demonstrable record of accomplishment in conducting high quality original research and an enthusiasm for science are also key attributes.

Lancaster University is a research-intensive university, ranked in the top 1% of universities globally, and in the top 10 in the UK. It is located on a beautiful campus in the North West of England close to the Lake District National Park. The Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) is a large and multidisciplinary department, tackling grand environmental challenges.

LEC offers a highly collegial and stimulating environment for career development based on departmental values and embedded equality, diversity, and inclusivity (EDI) considerations and actions. We are committed to family-friendly and flexible working policies on a case-by-case basis as well as the Athena SWAN Charter, which recognises and celebrates good employment practice undertaken to address gender equality in higher education and research.


What to include in your application:

Cover Letter: Please explain why you are interested in this position and how it fits with your career goals. Please also describe any relevant skills or experience not covered in the specified ‘Supporting Statements’.

Supporting Statements: Please provide a supporting statement for each Person Specification point that is listed as being scored via ‘Supporting Statements’. These should include examples that provide evidence of your experience and expertise. Aim for one paragraph per criteria (~50-200 words).

Informal enquiries may be directed to Dr Mike Roberts: 

Email details to a friend
Further details:

Please note: Unless specified otherwise in the advert wording, all advertised roles are UK based.

The University provides an environment that strongly supports the individual needs of each employee, whilst promoting the importance of wellbeing for all our colleagues. We have a range of support networks available for our employees, and more information on these can be found on the ‘Working at Lancaster’ information page.


We are committed to family-friendly and flexible working policies on an individual basis. The University recognises and celebrates good employment practice undertaken to address all inequality in higher education.


We warmly welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of their age, religion, gender identity or expression, race, disability or sexual orientation, and are committed to promoting diversity, and equality of opportunity.

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