Job description and selection criteria

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Job description and selection criteria

Job title

Postdoctoral Research Assistant - Activation of chloroplast development in rice bundle sheath cells


Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division (MPLS)


Plant Sciences


South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3RB

Grade and salary

Grade 7, £31,076 - £38,183 per annum


Full time (37.5 hours per week)

Contract type

Fixed term contract for five years

Reporting to

Professor Jane Langdale

Vacancy reference


Additional information

Funded by BBSRC


The University

The University of Oxford is a complex and stimulating organisation, which enjoys an international reputation as a world-class centre of excellence in research and teaching. It employs nearly 12,000 staff and has a student population of over 22,000.

Our annual income in 2014/15 was £1,429.3m. Oxford is one of Europe's most innovative and entrepreneurial universities: income from external research contracts in 2014/15 exceeded £522.9m p.a., and more than 80 spin-off companies have been created to date.
Oxford is a collegiate university, consisting of the central University and colleges. The central University is composed of academic departments and research centres, administrative departments, libraries and museums. There is a highly devolved operational structure, which is split across four academic divisions, Academic Services and University Collections and University Administrative Services. For further information, please see:

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Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division (MPLS)
Mathematical, physical and life sciences research at Oxford is the best in the country according to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) assessment exercise carried out by HEFCE. Our research tackles major societal challenges – whether developing new energy solutions or improved cancer treatments, understanding climate change processes, or helping to preserve biodiversity. More can be seen on the University's research impact web pages:
The MPLS division's ten departments and three interdisciplinary units span the full spectrum of the mathematical, computational, physical, engineering and life sciences, and undertake both fundamental research and cutting-edge applied work. We have over 6,000 students and research staff, and generate over half of our funding from external research grants. Our research addresses major societal and technological challenges and is increasingly interdisciplinary in nature. We collaborate closely with colleagues in Oxford across the medical sciences, social sciences and humanities, as well as with researchers from around the world.
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The Department of Plant Sciences

The Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Oxford is devoted to teaching and research in plant science. The research interests range from systematics, forestry and ecology to cell, molecular biology and biochemistry (see It has 26 University lecturers and senior fellows, c.45 postdoctoral research workers and c.35 graduate research students, and is responsible jointly with the Department of Zoology for teaching some 300 undergraduate students reading the Honour School of Biological Sciences.
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The University of Oxford is a member of the Athena SWAN Charter and holds an institutional Bronze Athena SWAN award. The Department of Plant Sciences holds a departmental silver Athena award in recognition of its efforts to introduce organisational and cultural practices that promote gender equality and create a better working environment for both men and women.

The Research Group

The research group is headed by Professor Jane Langdale, and is based in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Oxford. The lab hosts on average four postdoctoral researchers and two PhD students, all of whom are provided with generous technical support. Research in the group is broadly themed upon the genetics and evolution of plant development. Diverse taxa including mosses, liverworts, ferns and seed plants are used to investigate how developmental mechanisms were modified during land plant evolution. A major focus is on understanding how leaves develop, and in particular how the leaves of C4 photosynthesizing plants such as maize evolved their characteristic Kranz anatomy. Our work on Kranz development and chloroplast differentiation is closely aligned with the C4 Rice Project that aims to introduce C4 photosynthetic traits into the C3 crop rice.

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Job description

Research topic

Activation of chloroplast development in rice bundle sheath cells

Principal Investigator / supervisor

Professor Jane Langdale

Funding partner


Relevant publications

Wang, P., Vlad, D. & Langdale, J.A. (2016) Curr Opin Plant Biol 31, 44-50.

Wang, P., Kelly, S., Fouracre, J. & Langdale, J.A. (2013) Plant J. 75, 656-670.

Waters, M.T. & Langdale, J.A. (2009) EMBO J. 28, 2861 – 2873.

Technical skills

monocot plant transformation, molecular biology, in situ hybridization, advanced microscopy

The project

The project is part of a larger collaborative programme that aims to understand how photosynthesis is repressed in some cell types of the leaf but not in others, and then to use this knowledge to re-engineer photosynthetic development in the model and key crop rice. The program team comprises researchers from the University of Cambridge (Professor Julian Hibberd, Lead PI), University of Oxford (Professor Jane Langdale & Dr Steven Kelly) and Royal Holloway London (Dr Enrique Lopez). The postdoctoral researcher will carry out research to test the extent to which known activators and repressors of photosynthesis in mesophyll cells can be modified in the bundle sheath (induced or repressed, respectively), to bring about chloroplast development and photosynthetic function.


  • Collaboration with bioinformaticians to identity target genes for manipulation

  • Generation of transformation constructs using synthetic (Golden Gate) cloning methods

  • Generation and genotyping of transgenic rice lines

  • Phenotyping of transgenic lines in relation to chloroplast form and function.

Selection criteria


  • Have, or be expected to obtain, a PhD or equivalent and publication record in a relevant area

  • Experience working with plants

  • Experience of interrogating large molecular datasets

  • Knowledge of phylogenetic construction methods

  • Documented experience of molecular cloning

  • Experience of monocot transformation

  • Basic histology skills

  • Proven ability to work collaboratively towards shared research goals

  • Excellent communication skills.


  • Ability to program in R (or equivalent statistical package)

  • Experience of in situ hybridization methods

  • Experience of confocal microscopy.

The University’s policy on retirement
The University operates an employer justified retirement age for all academic and academic-related posts (any grade above grade 5), for which the retirement date is the 30 September immediately preceding the 68th birthday.

The justification for this is explained at:
For existing employees any employment beyond the retirement age is subject to approval through the procedures outlined at:

Pre-employment screening
Please note that the appointment of the successful candidate will be subject to standard pre-employment screening, as applicable to the post. This will include right-to-work, proof of identity and references. All applicants must read the candidate notes on the University’s pre-employment screening procedures, found at:

Working at the University of Oxford

For further information about working at Oxford, please see:

How to apply

If you consider that you meet the selection criteria, click on the Apply Now button on the ‘Job Details’ page and follow the on-screen instructions to register as a user. You will then be required to complete a number of screens with your application details, relating to your skills and experience. When prompted, please provide details of two referees and indicate whether we can contact them at this stage. You will also be required to upload a curriculum vitae and supporting statement. The supporting statement should describe what you have been doing over at least the last 10 years.  This may have been employment, education, or you may have taken time away from these activities in order to raise a family, care for a dependant, or travel for example. The supporting statement should also explain your motivation for the project and why you have the right attitude and expertise to fulfil the tasks of the project. Your application will be judged solely on the basis of how you demonstrate that that you meet the selection criteria outlined above and we are happy to consider evidence of transferable skills or experience which you may have gained outside the context of paid employment or education. Informal enquiries should be directed to Professor Jane Langdale at

Please upload all documents as PDF files with your name and the document type in the filename. 
All applications must be received by midday on the closing date stated in the online advertisement.
Information for priority candidates

A priority candidate is a University employee who is seeking redeployment owing to the fact that he or she has been advised that they are at risk of redundancy, or on grounds of ill-health/disability. Priority candidates are issued with a redeployment letter by their employing departments.
If you are a priority candidate, please ensure that you:

- attach your redeployment letter to your application (or e-mail it to the contact address on the advert if the application form used for the vacancy does not allow attachments)

- explain in your supporting statement how you meet the selection criteria for the post.
Should you experience any difficulties using the online application system, please email
Further help and support is available from
To return to the online application at any stage, please click on the following link
Please note that you will be notified of the progress of your application by automatic e-mails from our e-recruitment system. Please check your spam/junk mail regularly to ensure that you receive all e-mails.

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