Post-Doctoral Researcher Position Available at University of California, Davis

Kimberly Ann Massa's picture


Post-Doctoral Researcher

Department of Chemical Engineering

University of California, Davis

A research position for a Post-Doctoral Researcher is immediately available at the McDonald-Nandi laboratory (, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of California, Davis to work on the project entitled “Scalable Plant-Based Production of Affordable Protein Drugs”. This goal of this project is to transiently express, measure, and characterize recombinant Alpha 1 Antitrypsin (AAT) protein made in Nicotiana benthamiana. The successful candidate should have appropriate research experience and should provide evidence of effective and innovative research in the areas listed below and be interested in innovation, entrepreneurship and technology commercialization. The duration of this position is initially for one year and extendable depending on performance and availability of funding.

This position will be funded by NSF (PFI-TT 2016563)

Specific tasks include but are not limited to:

  • Grow and maintain healthy Nicotiana benthamiana plants in controlled environmental chambers.
  • Perform genetic infiltration of target gene(s) to produce transient expression in leaves.
  • Draft amendments to lab Biological Use Authorizations as needed.
  • Design of experiments to optimize speed of production, quantitative analyses, reproducibility, and quality of recombinant proteins made in plants.
  • Perform appropriate assays (ELISA, Western blots, anti-elastase activity, and protein-protein binding assays using biolayer interferometry (BLI) to measure the specific productivity of the target recombinant protein.
  • Generate a sufficient amount of infiltrated leaves for purification and further characterization of the target recombinant protein in crude extract or after purification (e.g. SDS-PAGE, Western, ELISA, amino acid sequence, activity assay, BLI, CD analysis, etc.).
  • Optimization of extraction and purification (>95%) of target molecules using centrifugation, TFF and AKTA systems and standardization of the protocols for scalability.
  • This project and position require collaboration and to work closely with a nearby commercial lab. A portion of the work may be performed at the commercial lab.
  • Supervise undergraduate and graduate students working on related projects in the laboratory.
  • Interface with collaborators within the university and outside of the university to further research objectives.
  • Prepare monthly research update presentations, drafts of journal publications, maintain laboratory notebooks and data, identify related research and fellowship funding opportunities, contribute to proposals, present research findings at conferences and internal meetings, draft annual and final NSF reports.
  • The participation in I-Corps (NSF) program is mandatory for this candidate. Participate in I-Crops (NSF) program involves interviewing technology stakeholders and entrepreneurs. Generate data from those interviews and report biweekly to I-Crops team of mentors. The final report and participation in a two-day final workshop with presentation is necessary. 

Required qualification and skill:

Candidates must have a Ph.D. degree in Biochemical/Chemical Engineering, Molecular Biotechnology, Plant Biotechnology, Natural Sciences or other related disciplines with skills in plant growth, protein purification, and characterization for the above-mentioned tasks. Capable of designing and conducting experiments independently, novel hypothesis testing, troubleshooting, data analyses, presentation and interpretation with excellent oral and written communication skills as well as teamwork and lab safety and biosafety skills. The selected individual should also have a strong interest in entrepreneurship, innovation, and technology commercialization.  The selected researcher is also expected to participate in seminars, weekly lab meetings, journal clubs, preparation of presentations, posters, reports, and publications.  UC Davis hold all rights for patenting or publishing any research data or outcomes and the researcher must adhere to all confidentiality, maintenance and archiving of lab data and records, lab safety, biological use authorization, and laboratory-specific requirements.

It is expected that the researcher will be working closely with Professors Somen Nandi and Karen McDonald as well as all members of McDonald-Nandi lab group and co-PIs Prof. Carroll Cross (School of Medicine) and Dr. Hal Padgett (Novici Biotech, LLC) and their personnel.