Author Archives: RachelT

Chemistry support staff redundancies

The University of Sheffield Chemistry Department has taken the decision to make a large proportion of the Department’s technical support staff redundant, or significantly reduced their hours. The staff affected include our analytical services technicians such as our Mass Spectrometry and IR technicians, as well as two workshop staff, our resident glassblower, the Grubbs solvents manager, and our head and deputy safety officers.

I am sure you’ll agree these staff are vital to the functioning of the Chemistry Department. The 3rd year Skills for Success Programme could not operate without them, nor could the analytical training workshop. They make our labs safe, and have student welfare at the forefront of their minds. And while you might not know it, the majority of our glassware is made within the Department. They are key to supporting not just students’ undergraduate studies, but also the world-renowed research carried out in our labs. One of the key selling-points of our Department is the quality of the analytical services, but without the amazing staff who run it, that service is non-existent.

These support staff have worked at the University for years, and shown their loyalty and dedication to the Department. For some of them, the University of Sheffield has been their only place of work.

Please sign this petition to show your support for our staff, and show the Department that investing in their support staff means investing in their students. Save Our Support Staff

Genomics Technician – Fixed Term (6 months)

Genomics Technician – Full time/ Fixed Term – 6 months

Location: Edinburgh Zoo

Are you passionate about genetics and conservation? We’re looking for a Genomics Technician to undertake genetic and genomic work, preparing and analysing DNA and to contribute to the day to day running of our Wildgenes Laboratory facility at Edinburgh Zoo.

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) are seeking a Genomics Technician to perform wet-lab molecular genetic techniques and assist the Senior Technician with the organisation and running of the Wildgenes lab. This is an exciting opportunity to further your career with one of Scotland’s leading education and conservation charities for a six-month fixed term period based at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo.

What you’ll be doing…

The Conservation Wildgenes team are responsible for conducting cutting-edge conservation genetic and genomic research on a large range of threatened taxa and working alongside government agencies, conservation charities and zoos across the world to deliver data, advice, training and capacity building. Essentially, as Genomics Technician, you can expect to:

Undertake DNA extraction, amplification, analysis and archiving of samples
Works within clearly defined processes and supervision
Troubleshoot and optimise procedures and produce protocols as required
This is a 6-month full time fixed term post where the working hours are 37.5 hours per week.

PacBio Sequencing Seminar – Thursday 25th Oct

We are delighted to invite you to attend a PacBio SMRT sequencing seminar, to be held on Thursday 25th October, 10.30am-2pm in the BMS Conference Room, Alfred Denny Building.

There will be talks from users of Sheffield’s PacBio Sequel System, which is based in the P3 centre and Molecular Ecology Laboratory in the Department of Animal & Plant Sciences. There will also be a presentation from PacBio technical staff, and the opportunity to meet with them afterwards to discuss your long-read sequencing projects.

The seminar is free and coffee and lunch will be provided. Please register at: to save your spot.

Postgraduate Student Sponsorship Application qPCR

Postgraduate Student Sponsorship Applications: Only 2 weeks to go to get your applications submitted!

Only 2 weeks left to get your applications in! Primerdesign are still collecting applications for its Postgraduate Student Sponsorship scheme for research projects. So get your applications in so that you don’t miss out. Selected gold students can look forward to receiving:

Free two-day qPCR training at Primerdesign on the 26th and 27th of March 2018, including overnight accommodation and travel to our offices in Southampton
~£3000 worth of free kits and reagents tailored to your specific project
20% discount for all our kits and reagents for the remainder of the project
Access to the Primerdesign webinar series
An optional opportunity to have details of your research featured on the Primerdesign website and social networks
Hands on technical assistance and training from our experts

Every year Primerdesign sponsors a number of postgraduate students across the UK to help with their research by actively promoting good science and providing an assortment of free and discounted, high quality real-time PCR reagents. Projects are assessed, and a number of sponsorships awarded on merit.

The above is intended for use by the postgraduate student, but can be used by the group at the discretion of the student supervisor. Kits, reagents and training will be provided without the exchange of funds and will be organised by agreement with the Primerdesign expert.

If you are a Postgraduate student or a supervisor and intend to use real-time PCR then Primerdesign would be delighted to consider sponsoring your or your student.

Applications will close on the 26th January 2018. Successful candidates will be notified on 16th February 2018.

For more information or to register your interest please visit:

If you are not a supervisor or student with a Real-Time PCR project, but know someone who is, please forward this email to them.

Vote for the catshark

I need your vote! I am championing the catshark in the 25 genomes competition. You can help sequence the genome of this important species and all it will cost you is a click! Please vote and share:



Drawing Club in the Alfred Denny Museum

Do you like to draw in your spare time?

We are running a drawing club in the Alfred Denny Museum over lunchtime (11am-1pm), roughly every other Wednesday starting on the 25th October. All are welcome regardless of artistic skill and you can arrive and leave at any time during the session.

The Alfred Denny Museum was established in 1905 and named after the department’s first Professor of Biology, Alfred Denny. Many of the specimens have been in the museum since the early 1900s. You can find the museum on Level C in the Alfred Denny building.

Please bring your own pencils and paper, we have a limited supply if you forget. Refreshments will be provided.

There are only 20 spaces are available due to the size of the museum. If you are interested please email: to get your space! It is first come first serve basis.

Dates for the drawing club are as follows:
– 25th October
– 1st Nov
– 22nd Nov
– 6th Dec
– 13th Dec

PhD position: Novel appeasing pheromones to minimise stress & aggression, & bolster reproductive & immune function in African wild dogs

African wild dogs are highly endangered, and have a complex pack structure with separate male and female dominance hierarchies in which reproduction is typically exclusive to the alpha male and female. Current efforts to maintain genetic diversity involve translocation of live animals in both captivity and the wild; a process that involves the combination of male and female single-sex groups to form a new social pack. Due to their complex social structure, such introductions are difficult; regularly leading to aggression and injuries to the animals.
We are investigating the use of dog appeasing pheromone (DAP) to down-regulate stress & aggression associated with the formation of new packs in captivity. Our initial findings indicate that DAP may reduce baseline stress levels in females and, when applied during regrouping of same-sex individuals, results in a relative reduction in observed levels of aggression. We are also currently determining whether DAP is a useful mitigation strategy during medical interventions on individual animals within existing packs, and have recently completed a series of trials across 5 US Zoos and in situ in Namibia.

We seek a dedicated, self-driven & highly motivated student to undertake a PhD project to isolate & test the effectiveness of several novel African wild dog-specific pheromones during pack formation in both captive & wild populations (Europe & Southern Africa). Research will involve: (i) mass spectrometry/gas chromatography for pheromone isolation; (ii) comprehensive behavioural observations of dominant/ subdominant interactions and aggression in pheromone-treated African wild dogs; & (iii) non-invasive measurement of reproductive & stress hormones as well as immune markers to validate underlying beneficial physiological effects. This work forms part of a broader collaboration with the Research Institute in Semiochemistry & Applied Ethology (France), & the Wild Dog Advisory Group (South Africa).
The prospective candidate will be required to apply for one of JCU’s highly competitive PhD scholarships due ~31st August 2017 ( If successful, the awardee should look to commence the project in January 2018. Applicants should have a 1st class Honours or MSc Research Degree in a related field, demonstrate Band 2 English language proficiency, and have preferably (co)authored at least one scientific publication. Only high calibre students will be considered.

Interested individuals should email a curriculum vitae (containing a list of publications, awards & referees), as well as an academic transcript of their highest degree to

Conservation Genetics Placement- RZSS WildGenes Laboratory

Where: Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s WildGenes Lab based at Edinburgh Zoo in Edinburgh, Scotland.
When: September 2017-June 2018
Researchers: Dr Gillian Murray-Dickson (supervisor), Dr Helen Senn (group lead)

Who we are: At RZSS WildGenes we conduct cutting-edge conservation genetic and genomic research on a large range of threatened taxa. Our laboratory facilities are based at Edinburgh Zoo and our projects centre on in-situ monitoring, ex-situ management, reintroduction management and control of the illegal wildlife trade. We work alongside government agencies, conservation charities and zoos across the world to deliver data, advice, training and capacity building. We are pioneering the use of genomic techniques such as ddRAD to generate high resolution data for conservation and we specialise in the analysis of non-invasive, and difficult to work with sample types.

Project description: The appointed student will undertake a research project on the conservation genetics of a threatened species. Previous students have undertaken conservation genetic research on sand cat, pygmy hippo, red-fronted gazelle and Scottish wildcat. You will also assist our team with a wide variety of duties which might range from the bio-banking of endangered species samples to sequencing of museum specimen and scoring of microsatellite and SNP markers. There will also be some opportunity to engage with science outreach and the wider work of an active conservation department. We work on a dynamic portfolio of projects, on a wide range of threatened taxa and you will be part of our team to deliver on this work.

How to apply: Please send you CV and a covering statement detailing why you would like to work with us to Senior Lab Technician Jennifer Kaden and Dr Gill Murray-Dickson .

Suitable applicants will initially be interviewed by phone and then invited to visit us at the lab (expenses covered). Please note this is an unpaid position.

Looking for a room to rent.

Suzan is coming to work with Mirre next month, and is looking for a room to rent from the 4th Feb, for 4 months. If you have a spare room or know of anyone who does, please contact Suzan

Have you got Whole Genome Sequence Data and you’re not sure what to do with it? This Triple A Winter School is for you.

Date: 15-20th January 2017

Where: Monte Veritá, Switzerland

Triple A Winter School is a intensive workshop on how to Assemble, Annotate and Analyse Whole Sequence Data – with a focus on de novo whole genome assembly and analysis of complex genomes. The Winter School will combine lectures with computer based practicals, and will be most valuable to those who have or will soon have whole genome sequence data.


Instructors include:

Monica Monuz-Torres from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, USA.

Robert Waterhouse from Université de Genéve and the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, Switzerland.

Emmanuelle Lerat from Chargé de recherche – CNRS, France.

Peter Fields from Universität Basel, Switzerland.

TOTAL COST: 610 CHF + travel to Locarno (Switzerland)
Covers tuition, accommodation (shared double room) and all meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and coffee breaks).

REGISTRATION CLOSES: 30th November 2016
Spaces are limited to 40 participants. See our webpage for more details.

Dr Jessica Stapley, ETH Zürich; Dr Stuart Dennis, EAWAG; Dr Stefan Zoller, GDC ETH Zürich and Professor Alex Widmer ETH Zürich.