Research Associate Position in Biophysical Chemistry and Biomolecular Engineering at the College of William and Mary (USA)

A research associate position in biophysical chemistry and biomolecular engineering is available in the group of Dr. Myriam Cotten at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia (USA).


Position summary

The position starting in April 2017 is available through the Department of Applied Science. It is part of a concerted experimental effort to develop and employ biophysical, biochemical, and biological methods to investigate the interplay of host defense mechanisms at biological membranes. The main tasks are to 1) identify physicochemical principles underlying molecular recognition and synergistic effects between biomolecules that converge at lipid membranes to exert their host-defense function; 2) develop quantitative tools to engineer biological macromolecules and systems with useful biological properties for innovative applications in treating infectious and inflammatory diseases. The work encompasses molecular design, synthesis, assembly, biophysical characterization of binding affinities and three-dimensional structures, and testing of biological efficacy. The specific molecules of interest are evolution-tested classes of membrane peptides, proteins, and lipids that act together on drug resistant bacteria, persister cells, biofilms, and tumors, and elicit immunomodulatory effects on host cells. Biophysical techniques such as solid-state NMR, oriented circular dichroism, isothermal titration calorimetry, and surface plasmon resonance will be employed to identify structural and physicochemical characteristics underlying function while biological assays will be used to quantify function, efficacy, stability, and cytotoxicity.


The position provides opportunities to interact with leading groups in the fields of solid-state NMR, neutron diffraction, molecular dynamics, chemical biology, biocatalysis, bacterial infections, G-protein coupled receptor activation of immune cells, and cancer imaging. The NMR facility at William and Mary houses two Bruker wide bore superconducting magnets operating at field strengths of 17.6 T and 7.05 T. An NMR specialist maintains and services the facility, and trains new users. The NMR laboratory is coupled with a biophysical and biological chemistry wet lab facility for sample preparation, housed in the new integrated science center. Additional instrumentation is available through core facilities at William and Mary and through collaborations with scientists at national laboratories and institutes.


We are looking for highly motivated, enthusiastic, inquisitive, creative, and outcome-oriented candidates who have the ability to interact collaboratively within a team and engage in interdisciplinary research. Duties will include assisting in designing, modifying, and performing research experiments; collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data; operating and maintaining laboratory equipment and computers; interfacing effectively with internal and external parties to discuss research projects and provide assistance; performing literature searches related to projects and experimental procedures; writing manuscripts for publication; and supervising undergraduate and graduate students.


Qualifications and contract

Candidates must hold a Ph.D. in chemistry, biophysics, or a related field, and must have strong experience in biophysical methods and experimental biomolecular NMR. Demonstrated expertise in recombinant expression of isotopically labeled peptides and proteins, and familiarity with NMR techniques for solving structures of biomolecules are expected. Strong verbal, oral, and written communication skills in English, organizational and project management skills, motivation to engage in interdisciplinary research, and ability to interact collaboratively within a team of people from culturally diverse backgrounds are also necessary.


The initial contract will be for a duration of one year and will be renewable for a second year. The salary is commensurate with experience and will be based on the College of William and Mary guidelines.



The candidate must apply online at submit a cover letter and a curriculum vitae. The applicant will be prompted online to submit the names and email addresses of three references who will be contacted with instructions for how to submit a letter of reference. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.


The College of William & Mary values diversity and encourages applicants from underrepresented groups who will enrich the research, teaching, and service missions of the university. William & Mary is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer and conducts background checks on applicants for employment. 


Additional information

Information about the Department of Applied Science may be found at   

For inquiries, please contact the principal investigator, Prof. Myriam Cotten: and visit