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Visiting Associate Scientist, Life Science (Synthetic Biology) in Mountain View, CA at Universities Space Research Association

Date Posted: 1/11/2019

Job Snapshot

Job Description

Rothschild’s lab at NASA Ames has been pioneering the infusion of synthetic biology technologies into the Agency to accomplish NASA’s missions, with a particular emphasis on exploration and astrobiology.  The objective of the present work is focused on using a synthetic biology approach to elucidate potential pathways for the origin of life.
The Visiting Associate Scientist will use in vitro evolution experiments to observe the co-evolution of polymers (RNA and protein) and lipid membranes and the impact that each of these protocell components has on the evolution of the others. In the context of the Origin of Life, in vitro evolution experiments will allow the observation of how co-evolution provides unique opportunities for evolutionary innovation including the transition of function from one polymer to the other.

Essential Duties/Responsibilities:

  • Synthetic biology skills to perform PCR, transformation, DNA/RNA ligation, in vitro translation, prepare liposomes, make and run polyacrylamide gel to analyze the nucleotide/protein products.
  • Analyze sequence information retrieved from next-gen sequencing
  • Write and edit scientific papers

Additional Responsibilities

  • Assist in general lab safety, ordering, mentoring and other support activities as assigned.
  • Act safely, ethically and in compliance with all laws and regulations and USRA policies and procedures including protecting NASA and USRA intellectual property, complying with ITAR/EAR rules, and completing all required training as scheduled.
  • Work effectively with others including functional staff for day-to-day operations and efforts to improve operational excellence.
  • Support efforts by USRA Management to ensure that USRA conducts its business operations in an effective, cost-competitive, and professional manner

Other job related duties as assigned

Required Qualifications:

  • A strong track record of research success as evidenced by publishing related work in peer reviewed journals, and contributing to obtaining new funding in the areas above.
  • Excellent organizational and communication skills.


  • Master’s Degree in biology, biotechnology, synthetic biology or related field

Desired Experience:

  • Experience working in synthetic biology, molecular biology,a nd metabolic engineering

 Knowledge, Skills & Abilities:  

  • Ability to work independently and effectively as part of a multidisciplinary team.
  • Ability to prioritize tasks, coordinates work of others, and meets multiple deadlines.
  • Ability to communicate through conference presentations and scientific publications is essential.
  • Ability to propose credible and innovative research projects, develop the necessary skills to perform the work, and carry out the research, providing the required reporting to the granting agency in a timely fashion.
  • Ability to interpret USRA and Federal Policies and Procedures necessary to function in a scientific research environment that is enabled through U.S. Government funds.
  • Advanced experimental and analytical skills.


Proficiency in Microsoft Office or similar and its applications

Working Conditions:

 This job operates in a professional office/laboratory environment. This role routinely uses standard office and laboratory equipment such as computers, phones, photocopiers, etc. This is largely a sedentary role.


Minimal travel.

Applicants should apply to the posting at and include a letter of interest, resume, or curriculum vita. Additional information on USRA can be found at

USRA is an Equal Opportunity Employer Minorities/Females/Protected Veterans/Disabled/Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity


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