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Job Req ID:  107200

Research Specialist

The Piacentino Lab ( is seeking a highly motivated, organized, independent, and energetic Research Specialist with interests in developmental biology and cell migration to join our growing team in the Department of Cell Biology. The Piacentino Lab is a basic science lab that studies the early development, invasion, and migration of the neural crest – a population of stem cells that produce the peripheral nervous system, the craniofacial skeleton, and many other cell types. We use chicken embryo, stem cell, and tissue culture systems to investigate how plasma membrane lipids regulate neural crest development and migration. We are excited to welcome new members committed to maintaining an inclusive, respectful, and engaging research environment.

The successful candidate will primarily devote time toward one or more research projects under the direct guidance of Dr. Piacentino. The selected candidate is expected to participate in weekly lab meetings, and successful completion of their research responsibilities will likely result in authorship on publications. The applicant needs to be able to exercise independent judgment while planning, performing, and interpreting experiments. They should have strong problem-solving and troubleshooting skills. These goals will require an understanding of the theory behind cell and molecular biology experiments and the ability to build extensive knowledge of the overall interests of the lab’s research.

The Research Specialist will also play a role in the early stages of lab setup and management. These duties include, but may not be limited to, training future lab members in common assays and techniques, managing capital equipment, supply and reagent purchasing, and monitoring and maintaining common lab inventories. The Research Specialist will also be responsible for maintaining lab compliance with and renewal of institutional safety and regulatory protocols. In summary, they will act as a representative of the PI within the lab, to equipment and supply vendors, to various regulatory compliances units of JH Medicine, and with lab personnel and the Department of Cell Biology. This position requires enthusiasm for scientific research and clear communication (written and oral), time management, and team-building skills.

Specific Duties & Responsibilities

  • Use basic science knowledge to learn and apply routine techniques in the lab — may include embryology, tissue culture, microscopy, image analysis, protein and RNA labeling and visualization, and other techniques associated with molecular biology, protein, and lipid biochemistry.
  • Plan and run experiments independently after discussion with Dr. Piacentino.
  • Use scientific knowledge, problem solving skills, and lab experience to evaluate whether component parts of experiments are working as they should.
  • Operating basic (centrifuges, pH meters, analytical balances, thermocyclers, electrophoresis units, laminar fume hoods) and more sophisticated (widefield and confocal light microscopes, cryostats) laboratory equipment,
  • Careful recordkeeping and data entry, use of databases and various software applications, such as spreadsheets, statistical packages, and graphics packages, to assemble, manipulate, and/or format data.
  • Ordering equipment and supplies, interfacing with vendors.
  • Teach/train future lab members on standard equipment operation and routine lab techniques and procedures.
  • Facilitate problem solving for entry-level lab members with day-to-day problems.

Special Knowledge, Skills, & Abilities

  • Dr. Piacentino and/or other lab members will gladly provide training in all general and specialized skills required for the work.
  • Exceptional organizational ability and attention to detail are required.
  • Applicants must be willing to work with early chicken embryos and with various immortalized and cancer cell lines (including lines of human origin).
  • General computer skills.
  • Applicants must be organized, self-motivated, and enthusiastic about research.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • Proven technical knowledge and laboratory experience.

Minimum Qualifications
  • Bachelor's Degree in Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, Physics, or related field.
  • One year laboratory experience performing relevant techniques.
  • Master's degree, with related graduate research, may substitute for experience to the extent permitted by the JHU equivalency formula.

Preferred Qualifications
  • Experience with embryology and/or tissue culture.
  • Experience with microscopy.
  • Familiarity with Python and/or R coding languages.
  • Strong working knowledge of developmental and/or cell biology.
  • Proven technical knowledge and laboratory experience.

Classified Title: Research Specialist
Role/Level/Range: ACRP/03/MA  
Starting Salary Range: $17.72-$24.35-$31.00 HRLY (Commensurate with experience) 
Employee group: Full Time 
Schedule: Monday-Friday, 8:30am-5pm 
Exempt Status: Non-Exempt 
Location: School of Medicine Campus 
Department name: ​​​​​​​Cell Biology IBBS 
Personnel area: School of Medicine 


Please refer to the job description above to see which forms of equivalency are permitted for this position. If permitted, equivalencies will follow these guidelines:

JHU Equivalency Formula: 30 undergraduate degree credits (semester hours) or 18 graduate degree credits may substitute for one year of experience. Additional related experience may substitute for required education on the same basis. For jobs where equivalency is permitted, up to two years of non-related college course work may be applied towards the total minimum education/experience required for the respective job.

**Applicants who do not meet the posted requirements but are completing their final academic semester/quarter will be considered eligible for employment and may be asked to provide additional information confirming their academic completion date.

The successful candidate(s) for this position will be subject to a pre-employment background check. Johns Hopkins is committed to hiring individuals with a justice-involved background, consistent with applicable policies and current practice. A prior criminal history does not automatically preclude candidates from employment at Johns Hopkins University. In accordance with applicable law, the university will review, on an individual basis, the date of a candidate’s conviction, the nature of the conviction and how the conviction relates to an essential job-related qualification or function.


The Johns Hopkins University values diversity, equity and inclusion and advances these through our key strategic framework, the JHU Roadmap on Diversity and Inclusion.


Equal Opportunity Employer

All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran.


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The pre-employment physical for positions in clinical areas, laboratories, working with research subjects, or involving community contact requires documentation of immune status against Rubella (German measles), Rubeola (Measles), Mumps, Varicella (chickenpox), Hepatitis B and documentation of having received the Tdap (Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) vaccination. This may include documentation of having two (2) MMR vaccines; two (2) Varicella vaccines; or antibody status to these diseases from laboratory testing. Blood tests for immunities to these diseases are ordinarily included in the pre-employment physical exam except for those employees who provide results of blood tests or immunization documentation from their own health care providers. Any vaccinations required for these diseases will be given at no cost in our Occupational Health office.


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