Research Scientist Mammalian Bioengineering, Sculpting Evolution

by Jessica Sisavath

July 9, 2021

Job Description

The Sculpting Evolution Group seeks a research scientist to supervise and assist research projects focusing on advancing biotechnology safely. Ideal candidates will be committed to glimpsing the best possibilities of the future and making them real.

On a practical level, we’re looking for people who:

  • Enjoy hands-on work with a wide variety of experimental systems and biology-relevant laboratory techniques,
  • Have extensive experience working with mammalian cells,
  • Love continually learning, developing, applying, and teaching new methods and techniques,
  • Are happy to be asked for help, to lend a hand when it’s possible, and to say no when it’s not,
  • Have strong written and oral communication skills,
  • Do their best to contribute to a supportive team atmosphere with explicit proactive communication,
  • Are enthusiastic about mentorship and committed to building an outstanding research team.

Broader views are also important. Particularly strong candidates might be those who:

  • Aim to ensure that biotechnology benefits as many morally relevant beings as possible,
  • Recognize the importance of mitigating catastrophic risks,
  • Care more about long-term impact than conventional metrics,
  • Gladly seize upon a small chance of achieving a tremendously impactful outcome.

Our most immediate need is for individuals with extensive experience in working with mammalian bioengineering. While our group retains a focus on understanding and controlling evolution, including but not limited to our PRANCE system for high-throughput robot-directed evolution, we now have a more explicit focus on mammals. This includes directed evolution in mammalian cells, but also the application of our newly developed ability to massively multiplex CRISPR, which we’re not only using for new approaches to ecological engineering, but should also enable us to programmably engineer cells to resist viruses and other emergent pathogens. In addition, we’ve uncovered a promising new approach to developing non-immunogenic receptor decoys against diverse classes of viruses, which could help broadly mitigate catastrophic risks. Other example ongoing projects in this last area that touch on mammalian cells include SecureDNA and the Nucleic Acid Observatory.


On a day-to-day level, the research scientist position will involve designing and performing experiments involving mammalian cells and animals, supervising diverse research projects in the group, training and mentoring new arrivals, helping manage key collaborations, writing publications and grant proposals, and optionally engaging in science communication to general audiences or to policymakers. Given the breadth of research methods that we employ, willingness to learn new skills and techniques is a must.

Supervision Received:

Reports to Prof. Kevin Esvelt

Supervision Exercised:


Qualifications & Skills: 



  • PhD in Biology fields yielding mammalian expertise or related fields;
  • Deep expertise in mammalian biology and/or bioengineering;
  • Experience with standard and many advanced molecular biology techniques;
  • Skilled at troubleshooting experiments involving complex systems;
  • Comfortable with animal models or willing to learn and work closely with veterinarians;
  • Willing to study viruses and other pathogens (replication-incompetent/BSL2+).


One year of postdoctoral experience.

To apply, go to and search for job ID#19841.

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