Research Scientist (Ecological Networks)
Post Details
Job Title
Research Scientist (Ecological Networks)
Post Number
Closing Date
23 Apr 2019
Starting Salary
£31,250 - £38,100
Hours per week
Project Title
Inter-Kingdom microbial communities in the human gut described through networks and numerical ecology.
Expected/Ideal Start Date
13 May 2019
Months Duration
Interview Date
03 May 2019

Job Description

Main Purpose of the Job

The aim of this project is to understand the dependencies between members of the microbiome at different life stages, as well as to identify potential metabolic interactions. The project will use a unique set of samples derived from the ongoing PEARL and MOTION studies, currently ongoing longitudinal microbiome studies in Norwich. These independent cohorts follow the establishment of the microbiome in early life and its functional decline in later life and will offer a wealth of taxonomic and functional abundance data, among other data types, for detailed analyses. The applicant should have a PhD degree related to Computer Science, Ecology or Microbiology, have expertise in numerical ecology. Experience in working with co-occurrence networks, probabilistic acyclic graphical methods or other community centric methods, such as enterotypes would be advantageous, as would be familiarity with temporal and/or microbial data, (bacterial) metabolism and genome-scale metabolic models.

Proficiency in either Perl/C++/R/Python and familiarity with a Linux operated high performance computing environment is required for this post. The applicant is expected to work independently and have excellent communication skills and will be expected to contribute to supervising junior group members, as well as to grant and manuscript writing. As such, the candidate should provide evidence of leadership and initiative in developing high quality projects, demonstrated through e.g. first author publications.

This position offers the unique opportunity to analyse interactions between bacteria, viruses (bacteriophages) and fungi in the human gut in an individual specific framework in the Hildebrand group based in the Gut Microbes and Health Research Programme at the Quadram Institute for Biosciences.

Key Relationships

The successful candidate will play an important role in building and running daily tasks in the Hildebrand group. As such, they will supervise students, coordinate research activities with other groups in the Gut Microbes and Health programme, in the other QIB research programmes, and elsewhere on the Norwich Research Park, including the Earlham Institute and University of East Anglia. The candidate will be expected to contribute to visits with external collaborators (UK & EU) on specific projects.

Main Activities & Responsibilities

Analyse and interpret metagenomic data, with a focus on microbial interactions, and formulate hypotheses from these
Understand the ecological roles of Bacteria, Viruses and Fungi in the human gut environment
Interpret the absence of metabolic pathways and genes involved in microbial communication
Contribute to supervision of research students and visitors to the group, where necessary
As agreed with the line manager, any other duties commensurate with the nature of the post, for example, contributing to the work of Institute committees.

Person Profile

Education & Qualifications

PhD in Bioinformatics, Ecology, Network theory or similar

Specialist Knowledge & Skills

Good knowledge of numerical ecology
Understanding genomes and interpreting gene function
Proficiency in working in the Linux environment
Experience with genome scale metabolic models
Correlation network analysis, mathematical modelling
Structural equation models or Bayesian statistics

Relevant Experience

Proficiency in at least one programming language (e.g. python, Perl, R)
Proven track-record of research output at the appropriate level
Proficiency working with ecological and/or network data

Interpersonal & Communication Skills

Excellent communication skills, both written and verbal in English language
Demonstrated ability to work independently, using initiative and applying problem solving skills
Good interpersonal skills, with the ability to work efficiently as part of a team

Additional Requirements

Promotes equality and values diversity
Ability to undertake occasional travel (national/international) related to collaborations and/or seminars
Attention to detail
Willingness to work outside standard working hours when required
Willingness to embrace the expected values and behaviours of all staff at the Institute, ensuring it is a great place to work

Who We Are

Quadram Institute Bioscience

The Quadram Institute is at the forefront of a new interface between food science, gut biology and health, developing solutions to worldwide challenges in food-related disease and human health.

We are engaged in fundamental and translational food and health research, alongside clinical studies, endoscopy and industry, working together to become a leading international hub for food and health research, combining scientific excellence and clinical expertise, delivering impacts on patient care and accelerating innovation.

For more information about working at Quadram Institute Bioscience, please click here.


Gut Microbes and Health

Group Details

The Hildebrand group is a newly established group within the Quadram Institute Bioscience (gut microbes & human health) and the Earlham Institute (sequencing technologies & algorithms). The group has expertise in metagenomic algorithms and has developed innovative ways to analyse and interpret biological data, with a focus on understanding bacterial co-existence as an interacting community, i.e. going beyond species-centric interpretations of microbial ecosystems.


Advert Text

Research Scientist (Ecological Networks)

Applications are invited for a Research Scientist to join the Laboratory of Dr Falk Hildebrand in the Gut Microbes and Health Programme at Quadram Institute Bioscience (QIB), based in Norwich, UK.


The Hildebrand group is working on microbial communities, bacterial strain evolution and genome plasticity, with the ultimate goal of understanding the microbial aetiology of a broad range of human diseases. The group is specialised in developing novel methods that merge metagenomics, evolution, species interactions, characterising unknown microbes.

The role:

The position will be computational, offering flexibility and opportunities for personal development. The post holder will contribute to supervising students and to grant and manuscript writing. The post holder will research microbial communities (human gut), to understand bacterial dependencies, their metabolism and investigate the ecological role in relation to human well-being. This 3-year funded position will give the applicant the opportunity to have an active role in building a new research group, offering independence, responsibility and scientific freedom.

The ideal candidate:

The applicant holds a PhD degree related to Computer Science, Ecology or Microbiology and has expertise in numerical ecology, having worked with co-occurrence networks, probabilistic acyclic graphical methods or other community centric methods, such as enterotypes. They are acquainted with temporal and/or microbial data, (bacterial) metabolism and genome scale metabolic models. The candidate should be proficient in either Perl/C++/R/Python and the use of a Linux operated high performance computing environment. Wet lab experience will be considered a plus. The applicant is expected to work independently and have good communication skills.

Additional information:

Salary on appointment will be within the range £31,250 to £38,100 per annum depending on qualifications and experience. This post is for a contract of 3 years with a possibility of further extension.

For informal enquiries please contact Dr Falk Hildebrand by email at

Interviews will be held on 3 May 2019.

We are committed to equal opportunities and welcome applications from all sectors of society. The Institute supports equality of opportunity within the workplace and expects all employees to share and display these values. To support our commitment, we have a range of family, faith and diversity friendly working arrangements to help all staff achieve excellence in their area of work.

As a Disability Confident employer, we guarantee to offer an interview to all disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria for this vacancy.

About the Quadram Institute:

The Quadram Institute is a new interdisciplinary research institute at the forefront of a new era in food and health research. Its mission is to understand how food and the gut microbiota are linked to the promotion of health and the prevention of disease. A partnership between Quadram Institute Bioscience, the University of East Anglia, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and BBSRC, it brings together scientists and clinicians in a new state-of-the-art building. The Quadram Institute is based on the Norwich Research Park, one of Europe’s largest centres of life sciences and home of the John Innes Centre and The Earlham Institute. (

The closing date for applications will be 23 April 2019.

The Quadram Institute Bioscience is a registered charity (No. 1058499) and is an Equal Opportunities Employer.