Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
15 March 2020
(application date has expired)
£32,000 to £35,000 £32,000 – £35,000 per annum,
depending on skills and experience
Postdoctoral Researcher - Wood Identification
To fight illegal trade in timber and other wood products, it is imperative that governmental and fiscal bodies are able to confidently assess the taxonomic identity (at the level of species, population or variety) and provenance of wood samples.
To this end, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is now embarking on a multilateral partnership with multiple stakeholders in the public, private and academic sectors. This postdoctoral research project aims to use Kew’s extensive Science Collections to conduct and publish high quality original research on methods to accurately determine the taxonomic identity and provenance of wood products using a variety of lab-based techniques and sophisticated analyses.
Kew is the world’s leading botanic gardens, at the forefront of plant and fungal science, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a major visitor attraction.
We want a world where plants and fungi are understood, valued and conserved – because our lives depend on them.
We use the power of our science and the rich diversity of our gardens and collections to provide knowledge, inspiration and understanding of why plants and fungi matter to everyone.
Working in close collaboration with our partners, the successful candidate will explore new technologies for identifying the taxonomic affinity and provenance of wood samples. The technologies to be considered include: automated image recognition based on digital images of wood anatomical sections (transverse and tangential), using machine learning techniques and Convolutional Neural Networks; stable isotopes; Direct Analysis in Real Time Mass Spectrometry (DART-TOFMS); DNA-barcoding and/or whole-genome sequencing, potentially focused on selected Critically Endangered and Endangered species; Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) and Bomb peak calibrated C14-dating. The postholder will be an active member of a high-profile, multi-disciplinary team led by the Director of Science, Prof. Alex Antonelli and will benefit from working across science departments at Kew.
They will have access to:
- The partners’ combined body of expertise in these fields
- Kew’s and Naturalis’ large and growing repository collection of georeferenced wood samples and wood anatomical slides
- Kew’s and Naturalis’ vast collections of herbarium samples
- Well-equipped laboratories and computing facilities
With a PhD in a relevant specialist subject (e.g. taxonomy, molecular biology, AI), the ideal candidate will have a strong track record of scientific analysis and publication. They will have experience of independently managing a discrete research project or project area, and in compiling, handling and analysing large datasets. They will need excellent verbal and written communication skills, including the ability to adapt these to diverse audiences ranging from the general public to the specialist research community.
Candidates will also need the ability to explore and apply new technologies and opportunities as appropriate in discussion with colleagues. With excellent time management and prioritisation skills, they will work independently but as part of a dynamic collaborative team at Kew and external network of researchers. Previous postdoctoral research experience in a relevant specialist field would be advantageous.
Our fantastic benefits package includes opportunities for continuous learning, a generous annual leave entitlement, flexible working to help you maintain a healthy work-life balance, an Employee Assistance Programme and other wellbeing support such as cycle to work scheme and discounted gym membership. We also offer a competitive pension, an employee discount scheme and free entry into a wide range of national museums and galleries, as well access to our own beautiful gardens at Kew and Wakehurst.
If you are interested in this position, please visit our website for more information and to apply.
We are committed to equality of opportunity and welcome applications from all sections of the community. We guarantee to interview all disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria for the post.