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Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Research Specialist, Materials Science (FIB milling, EELS/sTEM) - Villa Lab

La Jolla, CA

Primary Work Address: Leichtag Biomedical Research Building, La Jolla, CA, 92093-0646

Current HHMI Employees, click here to apply via your Workday account.

We are seeking a Research Specialist with expertise in materials science to join the lab of Dr. Elizabeth Villa at the University of California, San Diego. The Villa Lab wants to see inside cells at the highest possible resolution to understand the structural dynamics and interactions of macromolecular complexes. To do this, they develop tools and technologies to bridge live-cell imaging with cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET). Then, they use these tools to explore fundamental or previously unexplored questions in cell biology. To learn more about the lab, visit

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This is a rare opportunity to be a part of a dynamic and highly collaborative research team, with excellent benefits and the opportunity to be co-author on many exciting basic and translational papers. This role will allow you to collaborate closely with group members to develop new techniques and methods and push science in directions previously unthought of. This role will be a subject matter expert in the lab for working with FIB milling, EELS and STEM, and an integral part of the science conducted in the lab.

What You'll Do:

  • Independently provide regular maintenance, calibrations, and oversight for microscopes within the lab, including dual beam, EELS and STEM instrumentation.
  • Interact with technical support for the devices to perform preventative maintenance and address any technical issues that arise.
  • Interact closely with lab members to plan and perform experiments at every stage from sample collection and preparation to data collection and analysis.
  • Serve as the subject matter expert within the lab for complex microscopy techniques, and train other lab members on appropriate use and procedures.
  • Contribute to preparation of manuscripts, grants and scientific presentations.
  • Serve as the liaison from the lab to the core microscopy facility within UCSD.
  • Be readily available via slack, email, and phone when operational questions arise from users or for emergencies in the facility. Occasionally, attend to emergencies outside office hours in person.
  • Participate in weekly laboratory meetings and planning sessions.

What you bring:

  • Master's Degree in Materials Science or related discipline; or equivalent combination of education and experience PhD or equivalent experience preferred.
  • Prior experience working with Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy (EELS) STEM and experience working with FIB milling.
  • Experience with low-dose TEM and cryogenic EM a plus but not required.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills to interact with colleagues and technical support.
  • The ability to operate the complex machinery with reliability and accuracy, with minimal supervision.
  • Excellent organizational, communication and time management skills with attention to detail and able to handle multiple tasks or projects with competing deadlines.
  • Candidate must be self-motivated, energetic and able to work in a diverse laboratory environment
  • Knowledge of computer and MS office software, as well as Mac software and image analysis software.

Physical Requirements

Remaining in a normal seated or standing position for extended periods of time; reaching and grasping by extending hand(s) or arm(s); dexterity to manipulate objects with fingers, for example using a keyboard; communication skills using the spoken word; ability to see and hear within normal parameters; ability to move about workspace. The position requires mobility, including the ability to move materials weighing up to several pounds (such as a laptop computer or tablet). Work may involve possible exposure to malodorous vapors, contamination by toxic chemicals and acids and presence of carcinogenic substances.

Persons with disabilities may be able to perform the essential duties of this position with reasonable accommodation. Requests for reasonable accommodation will be evaluated on an individual basis.

Please Note:

This job description sets forth the job's principal duties, responsibilities, and requirements; it should not be construed as an exhaustive statement, however. Unless they begin with the word "may," the Essential Duties and Responsibilities described above are "essential functions" of the job, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Compensation and Benefits

Our employees are compensated from a total rewards perspective in many ways for their contributions to our mission, including competitive pay, exceptional health benefits, retirement plans, time off, and a range of recognition and wellness programs. Visit our Benefits at HHMI site to learn more.

Compensation Range
$75,285.00 (minimum) - $94,000.00 (midpoint) - $122,220.00 (maximum)

Pay Type:

HHMI's salary structure is developed based on relevant job market data. HHMI considers a candidate's education, previous experiences, knowledge, skills and abilities, as well as internal equity when making job offers. Typically, a new hire for this position in this location is compensated between the minimum and the midpoint of the salary range.

HHMI is an Equal Opportunity Employer

Client-provided location(s): La Jolla, San Diego, CA, USA
Job ID: HHMI-R-987
Employment Type: Other

Perks and Benefits

  • Health and Wellness

    • FSA
    • HSA
    • Health Reimbursement Account
    • Fitness Subsidies
    • On-Site Gym
    • Health Insurance
    • Dental Insurance
    • Vision Insurance
    • Life Insurance
    • Short-Term Disability
    • Long-Term Disability
  • Parental Benefits

    • Non-Birth Parent or Paternity Leave
    • Birth Parent or Maternity Leave
  • Office Life and Perks

    • Commuter Benefits Program
    • Happy Hours
    • Snacks
  • Vacation and Time Off

    • Personal/Sick Days
    • Paid Holidays
    • Paid Vacation
  • Financial and Retirement

    • 401(K) With Company Matching
    • 401(K)
  • Professional Development

    • Learning and Development Stipend
    • Access to Online Courses
    • Tuition Reimbursement
  • Diversity and Inclusion

    • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Program

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