Genomic Research SpecialistBrilliant Planet

Harpenden, England, United Kingdom 19-05-2023


Job Announcement: Genomic Research Specialist

Location: Harpenden at Rothamsted Research

About Brilliant Planet

Brilliant Planet is unlocking the power of algae as a scalable, affordable and near-term solution to climate change. Our innovative process allows vast quantities of microalgae to grow on desert land, without using freshwater by harnessing a natural process that contributes to the health of our oceans and air. Our facilities naturally capture and permanently store 30x more carbon per hectare than forests, bringing new environmental, social and economic productivity to costal deserts.

At Brilliant Planet you will meaningfully contribute to solving one of our planet’s most pressing issues: climate change. You’ll own your role and will be part of a passionate team of diverse professionals that will support you along the way.

Brilliant Planet was founded in 2013 and is funded by several of the world’s leading climate technology investors. Our labs are in Harpenden at Rothamsted Research, with operations in Morocco. We’re a company with science, engineering and technology at our core. Following eight years of pioneering R&D and five years of pilot operations we are now developing a scalable production platform that can be deployed commercially worldwide.

About the role

We are currently seeking an experienced, highly skilled, and passionate Algal Genome Research Specialist to lead our scientific research and development efforts in our UK labs. The successful candidate will be responsible for delivering the research & development relating to microalgal genetic research in collaboration with our UK R&D team, ensuring that our solutions are both effective and sustainable. We work with unique chlorophyte and diatom strains from the Moroccan Atlantic, that Brilliant Planet has bioprospected and extensively characterised physiologically.

Responsibilities include:

  • Establish methods for cryptic organism:
    • Nucleic acid extractions, quantitative transcriptomics, as well as regulatory marker expression analysis of siRNA, miRNA and lncRNAs
    • Field sample preparation for metagenomics & metabarcoding, perform species analysis using 18S, 28S and internal-transcribed-spacer regions ITS 1&2.
  • Focus a bioinformatician on assembly of novel previously uncharacterised diatom genomes, with undetermined ploidy and multiple repeat sequences, from both Ilumina (short) and MinION (long) reads, using known genomic, chloroplast and mitochondrial sequences as a framework, perform in silico copy number analysis to decontaminate the sequence data (for example, using tools such as Bowtie 2, BLASR or perform unsupervised binning approaches (e.g., MetaBAT 2) based on factors such as sequence composition and abundance, followed by quality analysis using programmes such as CheckM. Attention to long-terminal-repeat retrotransposons and assessments of genome completeness by seeking orthologs of single-copy number eukaryotic genes.
  • Collaborate toannotate new genomes as well as transcriptomes in the context of diurnal cycles of diatom photo, temperature, and nutrient-physiological assessments, producing expression heatmaps and quantitative assessments. The bioinformatician will also determine the presence of N-terminal repeat, organelle targeting sequences, transporter classifications, and regulatory sequences associated with gene expression. Given the novelty of diatom genomes comfort with evolutionary annotation and the creation and analysis of new Genome-scale-metabolic models (GEMs) are needed. Experience with for example, RAST, PROKKA, PASA, MAKER, NCBI, Ensembl are helpful.


Qualifications/selection criteria:

  • Ph.D. in Biology, Microbiology, Marine Biology, Ecology, or a related field, with a strong focus on microalgal genetics preferably with experience in photosynthesis research
  • Post-doctoral research experience in algal biology, photosynthesis, or a related field, with a demonstrated track record of scientific leadership and innovation
  • Demonstrated ability to secure research funding, develop strategic partnerships, and engage with the broader scientific community
  • Strong publication record in high-impact, peer-reviewed journals.
  • Facility with standard bioinformatics development environments (Linux, Bash, Python) and experience analysing and visualising bioinformatics datasets using Python, R or similar.
  • Experience performing quality control on genomic sequencing data (both short- and long-read) using standard tools, e.g., FastQC.
  • Experience building analysis pipelines for genomic data perhaps using workflow tools like SnakeMake or NextFlow.
  • An organised mindset with the ability to label and keep track of groups of analyses.

Key Attributes:

  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Commitment to fostering a culture of innovation, collaboration, and excellence within the team.
  • Excellent problem-solving, data analysis, statistical analysis and critical-thinking skills.
  • Passion for making a tangible difference in the fight against global warming.


At Brilliant Planet we provide a benefits scheme that is customized to each employee’s evolving needs and priorities. You will be invited to select a portfolio of benefits from, for example:

  • Private medical insurance (individual and family options)
  • Gym, pool & exercise class membership
  • Professional development/training
  • Duvet days (3x short-notice single-day holidays)
  • Work-from-home equipment allowance

We also offer all staff an excellent package of baseline benefits, including:

  • Generous annual leave, with the option to buy up to a week's extra annual leave
  • Flexible start times depending on team/role
  • Opportunities to flourish in your role through training and personal development
  • The chance of a three-month sabbatical every five years
  • A range of health and wellbeing programmes including 24/365 confidential counselling services
  • Enhanced maternity, paternity and adoption leave schemes
  • A cycle-to-work scheme

We offer flexible working hours including partial remote work and flexible start times depending on team/role.

We are located at the historic Rothamstead science campus. Thirty minutes from Kings Cross, Rothamsted is one of the UK’s leading agriscience research institutions. The campus includes 3 miles of walking trails, free on-site parking, a discounted staff canteen and is a ten-minute walk from Harpenden town centre.


Applications are now closed