Associate Professor Molecular Biology

  • Placement Reference #: 1533
  • Full Time
  • Edinburgh
  • 30 January 2022

Website HWU_EGIS Heriot-Watt University

The appoint will be at an Associate Professor level, Grade:9, Salary: £51,800 – £60,022.

Heriot-Watt University has established a reputation for world-class teaching and leading-edge, relevant research, which has made it one of the top UK universities for innovation, business and industry.

Heriot-Watt University has five campuses: three in the UK (Edinburgh, Scottish Borders and Orkney), one in Dubai and one in Malaysia. The University offers a highly distinctive range of degree programmes in the specialist areas of science, engineering, design, business and languages. Heriot-Watt is also Scotland’s most international university, boasting the largest international student cohort.

About our Team

The School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society is one of the UK’s leading institutions for multidisciplinary research and teaching in areas critical to economic development and societal equity. We aim to attain excellence in the teaching of the core disciplines that contribute to a sustainable, resource and energy efficient society and are committed to undertaking high value, high impact research and knowledge transfer in topics of relevance to global challenges.

The School enjoys facilities consistent with its location in modern, purpose-built accommodation on the Edinburgh campus. The School is well equipped in respect of laboratories for materials, structures, engineering, building services and hydraulics research and teaching. Our research and teaching facilities in Dubai and Malaysia are contained within purpose-built campuses in Dubai Academic City and Putrajaya, respectively.


The School’s undergraduate teaching on our Edinburgh campus covers civil and structural engineering, architectural engineering, construction project management, quantity surveying, geography, urban studies, interior design and the biology suite. On our Dubai campus we teach civil & structural engineering, architectural engineering, architecture, construction management, quantity surveying and interior design. On our Malaysia campus we teach civil engineering, construction project management, quantity surveying and geoenergy engineering. We offer a high quality educational experience underpinned by practical and laboratory teaching, and informed by contact with professional practice. Most of our degree programmes hold the appropriate accreditation from the relevant professional body. This educational philosophy ensures excellent employment prospects for all of our graduates.

Programmes of postgraduate study are aligned to the expertise contained in each of our research institutes. Our postgraduate students therefore benefit from state-of-the-art knowledge in their chosen study area. You can find further information about the School’s postgraduate programmes at


The School is one of the leading research centres in the UK. It has sustained a high reputation for the international standing of its research over two decades.
Research within the School is organised into six Institutes:

– Institute of Life and Earth Sciences (ILES)
– The Urban Institute (TUI)
– Institute of Geoenergy Engineering (IGE)
– Institute for Infrastructure and Environment (IIE)
– Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Design (CESBD)
– Institute for Social Policy, Housing, Equalities Research (I-SPHERE)

All academic staff based on our campuses contribute to the research activities of one (or more) of our Institutes. These Institutes support a wide range of research activities of relevance to a sustainable, resource and energy efficient society. Institute staff undertake research funded by research councils, charitable foundations, local and national government. Research outcomes are published in leading international and national journals and key findings are widely disseminated through other media and forms of output.

Detailed Description

Applications are invited for an Associate Professor in Molecular Biology, with a research and teaching focus on aspects of responses to biotic and abiotic stressors focussing on molecular tools. We are looking for a candidate who would address the following topics in their research and teaching: fundamental and applied aspects of molecular biology and biotechnology, both prokaryotic and eukaryotic, as well as advanced techniques that are used to study these. We are particularly interested on the interplay between environmental change and biological processes in both terrestrial and freshwater contexts. Candidates with expertise in bioinformatics and next generation sequencing (NGS) are particularly encouraged to apply. Furthermore, if appropriate, the successful candidate may take the role of lead of Bioscience education. This would involve leading on subject development, subject reviews, and teaching innovations.

The position will be based within the Institute of Life and Earth Sciences (ILES) in the School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society at Heriot-Watt University. The successful appointee will develop an independent research portfolio whilst working with colleagues in ILES, including ILES staff based the Lyell Centre, and in our Orkney campus (the International centre for Island Technology, ICIT), as well as other areas of the School and University. The successful applicant will have an internationally recognised profile in their own area of expertise, expanding and enhancing the intensity of our School’s research. The successful candidate will be expected to demonstrate a clear strategy for their research plans and identify how this fits with the research landscape of the Institute and School, as well as the broader national and international research context.

Key Duties & Responsibilities


  • Manage, inspire, and grow a vibrant research group consisting of postgraduate students and research associates conducting world-class research in areas such as: responses and adaptations to biotic and abiotic stressors, practical biotechnological solutions and applications to emerging environmental threats
  • Work with academics across all university campuses to expand and nurture ILES’ international and interdisciplinary research team, in line with the institute’s key strategic research themes;
  • Manage and shape the development of strategic, multi-disciplinary, and collaborative research funding bids, particularly with other members of ILES, through the submission of high-quality grant proposals to UKRI, industry partners, other funders;
  • Disseminate research through high-quality journal publications and papers, presentations at international conferences, and relevant stakeholder events;
  • Mentor and coach research students and postdoctoral researchers, with particular focus on providing opportunities for developing their careers as interdisciplinary, collaborative, and effective researchers.

Pioneering Education

  • Provide current knowledge of developments in learning and teaching (L&T) practice by involvement in external activities, bringing external insight and best practice to enhance our existing curriculum;
  • Undertake continuous professional development (CPD) to remain up-to-date with current L&T practice and external influencers in our sector to provide direction and leadership;
  • Identify and develop innovative L&T practice, to ensure the changing needs of learners are fully understood and supported in our portfolio of provision;
  • Share best practice in L&T methodologies, working with colleagues to develop scholarly debate and the dissemination of excellence to advance the curriculum to be future focused and challenged led;
  • Supervise undergraduate and post graduate students’ work, and take responsibility for dealing with referred issues regarding students within their own educational programmes.
  • Provide leadership in new developments in Bioscience education

Collaboration and Leadership

  • Develop new strategic partnerships with national and international R&D institutions and relevant stakeholders to advance and enhance innovative research and pioneering teaching activities at ILES and EGIS;
  • Collaborate with colleagues across all campuses to ensure a consistent, effective, and high-quality delivery of teaching and research, in line with the strategic aims of ILES, as well as the wider University;
  • Inspire, mentor, and coach junior academics and provide them with effective opportunities that support their personal career development in both, teaching and research;
  • Represent ILES and EGIS with integrity in a professional capacity at national and international conferences, with industrial partners, in professional societies, etc.;
  • Represent ILES in a leadership capacity, as appropriate, on School and University committees as needed.
  • Provide leadership in new developments in Bioscience education.

Education, Qualification and Experience

Essential criteria

  • PhD in the broader area of Molecular Biology;
  • A clear personal research focus, and experience of attracting external research funding, working with an inclusive, and forward-looking research team in relevant area(s), such as : assessment of eukaryotic and prokaryotic responses to biotic and abiotic stressors using molecular tools, biotechnological solutions to mitigate current and emerging threats to health and sustenance of plants, animals and humans;
  • Experience and capability in authoring high-quality publications in international journals and presenting at conferences;
  • Ability to deliver excellent teaching, together with experience of teaching in a higher education environment;
  • Ability to work in close collaboration with other disciplines (both internally and externally to Heriot-Watt);
  • Emotional intelligence, with an excellent collegiate attitude and outstanding interpersonal skills;
  • Experience of motivating colleagues, and encouraging innovation and resilience in teams;
  • Demonstrably excellent interpersonal and communication skills

Desirable criteria

  • Experience in next generation sequencing (environmental sequencing, RNAseq)
  • Experience in teaching program leadership, quality assurance, bringing research into teaching;
  • Ability to draw on industrial and professional networks to develop and enhance the teaching portfolio;
  • Ability to operate at cross-disciplinary boundaries;
  • Proactively involved with professional bodies and/or other external, relevant networks;
  • Experience in, or enthusiasm for, teaching innovation and adopting novel pedagogical approaches, for example in the context of online and blended learning.
  • Experience in, or enthusiasm for, academic leadership in the Bioscience area.

‘How to apply’

Applications can be submitted up to midnight (UK time) on 30th January 2022.

Please send in a maximum two page Covering Letter indicating why you think you are suitable for this post and include a full up to date academic CV.

Informal enquiries may be made to Prof Teresa Fernandes,

Please contact Yvonne Constantino,, should you have any difficulties with your application process or have any questions.

Heriot-Watt University is committed to securing equality of opportunity in employment and to the creation of an environment in which individuals are selected, trained, promoted, appraised and otherwise treated on the sole basis of their relevant merits and abilities. Equality and diversity are all about maximising potential and creating a culture of inclusion for all.

Heriot-Watt University values diversity across our University community and welcomes applications from all sectors of society, particularly from underrepresented groups. For more information, please see our website and also our award-winning work in Disability Inclusive Science Careers .

We welcome and will consider flexible working patterns e.g. part-time working and job share options.

Use our total rewards calculator: to see the value of benefits provided by Heriot-Watt University.