Job:Scientific Automation Engineer
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3.4 years ago
BerkeleyLab ▴ 70

Scientific Automation Engineer - 90195

Organization: BE-Biological Systems & Eng

Berkeley Lab’s Biological Systems Engineering Division ( has an opening for a Scientific Engineering Associate. The Scientific Engineering Associate will work with the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI,, Synthetic Biology Informatics ( and Agile BioFoundry (ABF, teams to contribute to automation engineering efforts and will apply standard engineering, scientific, and/or other technical concepts to provide technical support for biotech-laboratory equipment. The position will also occasionally perform basic and some advanced molecular biological and microbiological work pertaining to various aspects of DNA construction and sequence validation.

The successful candidate will perform assignments related to operating, programming, and repairing the instrumentation, evaluating and supporting the procurement of new instrumentation, as well as troubleshooting automation systems and instruments. The position will lead efforts to record and report DIVA DNA service costs and labor hours, and to assess researcher compliance with JBEI and ABF publications policies. The position will also contribute to scientific and technical peer-reviewed publications, and present results at scientific and technical meetings and conferences.

This position will be hired at a level 1 or 2 contingent upon level of experience, skills, knowledge, and abilities of the successful candidate.

What You Will Do:

  • Serve as an additional subject matter expert for lab automation aspects of JBEI and ABF R&D activities
  • Participate in engineering and process improvement projects to advance the JBEI and ABF missions and to gain operational efficiencies in terms of reductions in project cycle time, cost, and/or labor time
  • Collaborate with research personnel to design, develop, and implement automation solutions for biotechnological work processes
  • Utilize commercially available software, including Visual Basic, VBScript, VB.Net, VBA, and Excel as well as custom software applications (including Biomek, Biomek Method Launcher, and Semi Ex) to program robotic platforms and general laboratory equipment
  • Script automated workflows on robotic liquid handlers and large integrated robotic systems (e.g., a Biomek FXP Laboratory Automation Workstation integrated with microplate hotel, conveyer, incubator, centrifuge, and plate reader)
  • Train and collaborate with end-users on the operation of systems and tools, and support their implementation, including the development of training material, Standard Operating Procedures, and validation testing
  • Collaborate with vendors for the support, troubleshooting, and repair of laboratory instruments including: Liquid Handlers, Robotic Systems, Analysis Instruments, and other similar scientific and biotech lab equipment
  • Provide technical support for the installation, evaluation and ongoing support of new instruments, including establishing recalibration & maintenance frequencies
  • Respond to automation-based work requests, log and manage all work in JIRA (or other ticketing system as appropriate) and provide regular reports as requested by the Supervisor
  • Maintain clear communication and high levels of customer service with appropriate JBEI and ABF personnel concerning service and support issues, including instrumentation and process troubleshooting
  • Laboratory responsibilities will occasionally include both routine and advanced molecular biological and microbiological work
  • Follow established SOPs for DNA construct assembly, and DNA sequence validation
  • Lead efforts to record and report DIVA DNA service costs and labor hours, and to assess researcher compliance with JBEI and ABF publications policies
  • Contribute to the preparation of scientific and technical manuscripts for peer-reviewed publication and posters for presentation at scientific and technical conferences and meetings

Additional Responsibilities as needed:

  • Create user interface, analysis, sample tracking and/or process software tools as needed (e.g. LIMS)

What is Required:

  • B.S. degree in Biology, Engineering or related discipline with 2-3 years minimum professional technical experience in a research laboratory preferred or an equivalent combination of education and experience
  • Demonstrated experience applying technical, scientific, and engineering principles to evaluate manual laboratory work protocols/process and develop automated work processes
  • Strong knowledge and expertise in laboratory technology including automated high-throughput and biotech instrumentation, including the ability to create, validate, optimize, and maintain liquid handling processes on robotic workstations
  • Experience with scripting automated workflows on robotic liquid handlers (e.g., Biomek FXP/NXP/FX/NX)
  • Knowledge of Visual Basic, VBScript, Biomek, Biomek Method Launcher, and Semi Ex programming for data manipulation & instrument integration
  • Experience gathering feedback and requirements and analyzing data to make recommendations
  • Demonstrated knowledge and skills in biology, molecular biology, biochemistry, microbiology, or related field
  • Excellent interpersonal skills for working in a team environment
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • General personal computer application skills with spreadsheets, databases, and word processors
  • Ability to handle multiple tasks in parallel while working effectively
  • Good organizational and record keeping skills

Additional Desired Qualifications:

  • Familiarity with any major programming language (e.g. Python, C#.NET, C/C++)
  • Familiarity with Coastal Genomics/Hamilton NIMBUS, Labcyte Echo550, and Molecular Devices QPix460 instruments
  • Experience with advanced modern cloning techniques

The posting shall remain open until the position is filled.


  • This is a full time, 2 year term appointment with the possibility of extension or conversion to Career appointment based upon satisfactory job performance, continuing availability of funds and ongoing operational needs.
  • Classification will depend upon the applicant's level of skills, knowledge, and abilities.
  • M-F, exempt (monthly paid) from overtime pay.
  • This position may be subject to a background check. Any convictions will be evaluated to determine if they directly relate to the responsibilities and requirements of the position. Having a conviction history will not automatically disqualify an applicant from being considered for employment.
  • Work will be primarily performed at: Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) — Bldg. 978, 5885 Hollis St., 4th floor, Emeryville, CA.

How To Apply

Apply directly online at and follow the on-line instructions to complete the application process.

Biological Systems and Engineering Division

Vision: To lead efforts that combine the power of biology with the tools of engineering to develop sustainable energy and biomanufacturing solutions and improve human health.

Mission: Advance a mechanistic and predictive understanding of complex biological systems over multiple scales in terms of their responses to manipulation, stress, disease and environmental challenges and translate this knowledge using engineering principles to develop resilient systems, tools, and processes for the efficient production of fuels, chemicals, materials, tissues, and therapeutics.

Berkeley Lab

Berkeley Lab (LBNL, addresses the world’s most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab’s scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

Working at Berkeley Lab has many rewards including a competitive compensation program, excellent health and welfare programs, a retirement program that is second to none, and outstanding development opportunities. To view information about the many rewards that are offered at Berkeley Lab- Click Here (

Equal Employment Opportunity: Berkeley Lab is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age, or protected veteran status. Berkeley Lab is in compliance with the Pay Transparency Nondiscrimination Provision under 41 CFR 60-1.4 ( Click here ( to view the poster: "Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law".

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory encourages applications from women, minorities, veterans, and other underrepresented groups presently considering scientific research careers.

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