Research Technician in Nutrient & Elemental Analysis - Geography

University of Birmingham

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Position type:

Full time


£22,722.00 - £28,259.00

09 Aug 2019
01 Sep 2019

Full details:

Reference number: BIR-190002LM

Position Details


Location: University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham UK

Full time starting salary is normally in the range of £22,722 to £24,411. With potential progression once in post to £28,259

Band 500

Full time/ 4 year fixed term contract

Closing date: 1st September 2019


Job summary

The post holder will make a significant contribution to the processing of biotic and abiotic samples from the research woodland FACE experiment. This well-supported but challenging role combines significant laboratory and field work across multiple disciplines (ecology, ecohydrology, meteorology, and soil science). The post holder will work closely with the BIFoR research team to collect, process and analyse scientifically robust data to deliver high-end research, and will be expected to give training and guidance to other group members. The post-holder will also be expected to maintain laboratory equipment, consumables and to write COSHH, risk assessments/method statements where appropriate. The post holder will also provide support for and contribute to College activities under the direction of the Technical Services and Operations Manager as required. The post-holder should be conversant with a wide range of protocols in environmental analytical and preparative chemistry. The post-holder will be expected to operate automated analytical instruments and instruct new staff on its use for a wide range of applications. They will also be involved in data manipulation, analysis and retrieval. The general maintenance of the laboratories, including managing designated items of equipment and ancillary services such as controlled temperature rooms, isotope handling areas and the monitoring of safety in these areas. They will assist with the research group and school in the management of safety including the preparation of COSHH forms and safe maintenance, use and eventual disposal of stocks of chemical, including toxic chemicals. The post-holder must therefore be fully aware of School and University policies and relevant legislation.


Main duties


  • Processing and extraction of samples (soil, water and plants) for physico-chemical characterization using environmental analytical techniques including colorimetry, gas and liquid chromatography and organic elemental analysis.
  • Undertaking laboratory based incubation of soil and tissues for carbon and nutrient decomposition rate determination.
  • Ensure quality control and assurance of the laboratory procedures and analytical instruments and to maintain a rigorous accuracy and precision measures on a daily run basis to ensure quality data generation.
  • Organize and manage data in standard formats (Excel) and archive samples as a backup and for future analysis.
  • Maintenance of sophisticated equipment including Skalar colorimetric analyser, Shimadzu TOC-TN, Agilent Greenhouse Gas chromatograph, DIONEX ion chromatography and Thermo-Fischer organic elemental analysers. 
  • Carrying out or supporting those working at heights of approx. 25 meters using a variety of canopy access techniques, in a woodland setting.


General laboratory organisation, Research support and administration

  • The post holder will assist with the daily administration and organisation of the work area, and will be expected to:
  • The post-holder will be expected to support the group(s) in taking responsibility for maintaining the allocated laboratories, associated rooms and facilities in a clean, functional and safe state, and to initiate the repair or replacement of any deficiencies which come within the remit of the local budgets and reporting more major deficiencies to the Technical Managers, the Academic Supervisor, or as appropriate, the BIFoR Operations Manager
  • Preparation of COSHH and Risk assessments
  • Effecting minor repairs and maintenance, cleaning and servicing of general laboratory and field equipment used by the group(s). 
  • Maintenance of stocks of laboratory consumables as directed by the research supervisor
  • Making of inventory checks of equipment used by the group(s)
  • Providing support to the BIFoR Operations Manager by monitoring the health & safety of work practices and the designated research plots. 


Other Duties

  • The post-holder will be expected to support technical training by instructing other members of the research group(s), technical staff or students in operations or techniques as required and to take part in the University’s technical training programmes as required.
  • The post-holder would also be expected to attend any training programmes pertinent to this post as directed.


Health and Safety General 


General Workplace Health and Safety (where applicable)

  • Understand and comply with foundations of health and safety including responsibility for health and safety under the HASWA.
  • Understand and comply with risk assessment & control including COSHH assessments.
  • Complete risk assessment and implement controls including for COSHH.
  • Demonstrate appropriate use of personal protective equipment.
  • Understand and practice safe manual handling and repetitive activities, including DSE.Understand and comply with site and local emergency procedures.
  • Understand and comply with the University’s safety policies and procedures.
  • Understand and comply with GCP.


Laboratory Safety & Housekeeping (where applicable)

  • Work safely in a laboratory and follow aseptic laboratory procedures where required.
  • Maintain excellent housekeeping.
  • Order and control stocks of laboratory materials where required.Understand and comply with laboratory health and safety and compliance with legal, regulatory, ethical requirements. 
  • The post holder will be required to ensure the safe handling and disposal of all materials used in practical classes including hazardous chemicals where applicable.


Environmental Management (where applicable)

  • Understand the management and control of laboratory waste where required.
  • Understand the handling and disposal of chemical substances where applicable.
  • Understand environmental risk assessments (impact assessment).
  • Understand and apply the concepts of resource efficiency to energy, water and waste.


Person specification

  • BTEC HNC in Biological, Chemical, Soil and/or Environmental Sciences or equivalent experience.
  • Significant experience in active research, together with a good knowledge of research methodology in environmental analytical methods and nutrient analysis in environmental samples.
  • A good working knowledge of word processing and spreadsheet software.
  • Experience of databases would be an advantage.
  • Good written and verbal communication skills.
  • The role will involve driving within the West Midlands area and so a Full UK Driver’s licence will be required.


Informal enquiries can be made to Andrew Lees -

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