Vanderbilt University Term Research Assistant I - Cell and Molecular Biology in Nashville, Tennessee

Term Research Assistant I - Cell and Molecular Biology (Job Number: 1800754)


This is a full-time, non-exempt term position lasting six months up to one year.

Position Summary :

The Research Assistant I is part of the Cell and Molecular Biology Department within the School of Medicine Pod 2 at Vanderbilt University and is a key individual contributor responsible for assisting in the development and application of computational approaches to high content data generated by single-cell technologies to understand epithelial tissue function and organization. Reporting directly to the Principle Investigator the Research Assistant interacts with faculty, staff and students within the laboratory.

About the Lab:

The lab is broadly interested in understanding how niche signals are integrated and interpreted to result in cell fate decisions, such as cellular decisions to differentiate into one cell type versus another. The lab utilizes single approaches such as DISSECT-CyTOF (Simmons et al., 2015), multiplex imaging (MxIF) (McKinley et al., 2017), and single-cell RNA-seq to query single-cell states. We aim to unravel the degree of heterogeneity and plasticity of epithelial cell populations, such as cancer stem cells, in vivo, and to translate such knowledge into therapeutically tractable targets.

About the Department :

The Department of Cell and Developmental Biology is a vibrant, interdisciplinary environment for cutting-edge research over a scale that spans seven powers of ten, from single molecules to whole organisms. The difference between a test tube and a cell is spatio-temporal organization, and we study molecular, cellular and tissue organization in many of the laboratories within our department, seeking insights into fundamental biological questions and human disease. We are an interactive and highly collaborative department, with a strong graduate student association, outstanding core facilities, a top-ranked developmental biology program, and exceptionally strong faculty. Recent faculty recruits are studying cell migration using super-resolution microscopy, single molecule analysis of microtubule dynamics, systems biology of intestinal epithelia, stem cell biology, and the regulation of plasma membrane composition and ageing.

Key Functions and Expected Performance:

Evaluates and integrates software packages

  • Develops computational analysis pipelines for multiplex imaging and single-cell RNA-seq.

  • Evaluates and integrates several software packages that normalize, model, quality control, batch correct, etc.

  • Provides statistical feature selection for downstream analyses such as clustering and trajectory reconstruction.

Prepares tissues for experiments

  • Prepares microbiome for sequencing.

  • Assists in the collection of intestinal tissue samples.

  • Prepares samples for sequencing, such as DNA extraction, under sterile technique

Uses scientific software to analyze and interpret experiment results

  • Performs microbiome sequence analysis using established analyses Qiime

Supervisory Relationships :

This position does not have supervisory responsibility; this position reports administratively and functionally to the Principle Investigator.

Education and Certifications:

  • A Bachelor’s degree in science from an accredited institution of higher education is necessary.

  • A Bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from an accredited institution of higher education is preferred.

Experience and Skills :

  • One year of experience in computational analysis, programming and coding is strongly preferred.

  • Knowledge of computational analysis, programming, or coding is preferred.

  • Ability to interact with students, faculty and/or staff in a team environment is necessary.

  • Outstanding organizational skills, attention to detail, teamwork and communication skills are necessary.

  • Experience with mammalian cell culture is strongly preferred.

  • A background in biochemistry is strongly preferred.

  • Knowledge of laboratory and experimental protocols and procedures is preferred.

  • Ability to utilize, calibrate, configure and/or troubleshoot laboratory testing systems and instruments is preferred.

  • Knowledge of sterile procedures is preferred.

Additional Information:


A Term position is a staff position that exists for a period longer than six months but is not expected to last beyond one year. Although a position may exist for a specified or indefinite period, staff who accept term positions are not guaranteed employment for the entire period; they are employed for indefinite periods within the limit of the appointment. There are no guarantees of continued employment, either within the term or when the term ends.


In addition to offering a lively community that encourages learning and celebrates diversity, VU offers a competitive, flexible benefits package including health, dental, vision, life, accidental death & dismemberment, disability insurance, paid time off, and a 403(b) retirement plan with employer match. Vanderbilt offers tuition assistance to employees, spouses and dependent children. Also, after five years of service, Vanderbilt will pay up to 55% of the tuition for up to three dependent children to earn a bachelor's degree. Learn more about Vanderbilt's benefits at VU Benefits Overview at

Key Characteristics of a Successful Team Member in this Work Unit:

  • Creative Thinking – Goes beyond the boundaries of the job description, willingly takes on new challenges, finds creative solutions rather than always awaiting direct instructions

  • Integrity – Holds oneself accountable; takes responsibility for failures as well as successes, recognizes that trust is required to hold a team together.

  • Maturity – Exhibits professional maturity; doesn’t pass the buck to dodge accountability; doesn’t engage in petty office politics or inappropriate social conduct

  • Resilient – Is resilient in the face of daunting challenges and setbacks; bounces back readily.

  • Raises the Bar – Expects and delivers excellence. Is a creative problem solver. Is proactive. Welcomes input on making things better.Places a high value on learning and getting better

Job requires -- and -- of experience or the equivalent.

Licensure, Certification, and/or Registration (LCR):

Primary Location: United States-Tennessee-Nashville

Organization: 18230 - Cell and Developmental Biology

Job: Limited Term Positions