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Research Associate, Outdoor Algae Pilot Plant, Department of Geoscience, Faculty of Science

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Job ID: 15842

Updated: July 26, 2018

Location: Main Campus

Position Overview

The Department of Geoscience in the Faculty of Science invites applications for a Research Associate, Outdoor Algae Pilot Plant . This Full-time Fixed Term position is for approximately 1 year (based on length of grant funding), with the possibility of extension.

This position is part of the Energy Bioengineering Group under the direction of the group leader, Dr. Marc Strous. Dr. Strous and Dr. Welch have obtained funding to create an outdoor validation facility for solar technology. This facility supports the UofC's Global Research Initiative in Sustainable Low Carbon Unconventional Resources (GRI), theme 3, CO2 conversion. The outdoor validation facility will be created on main campus and consists of a greenhouse for staging experiments and an outdoor area for experiments.

Much of the work will be outside or inside the greenhouse, mainly during summer months or shoulder season (March-November). During this time, coping with hot, wet or cold weather conditions can be expected. During the winter, work will be mainly inside offices and laboratories located in the EEEL building.

The work is mainly technical, includes taking care of the weather station, working with large equipment such as pumps, mixers, drums and tubing, working with alkaline media, using scales, quantifying productivity of photobioreactors using volumetric O2 measurements, drying/ashing microbial biomass and working with organic solar cells. The RA will also prepare reports in the form of spreadsheets and graphs. The work also involves supporting and collaborating with team members, including undergraduate students, doing experiments in the outdoor space and greenhouse.

Position Description

Summary of Key Responsibilities (job functions include but are not limited to):

  • Responsible for assembly/emplacement/monitoring/maintenance of infrastructure/experiments. This includes placing photobioreactors in the outdoor experimentation space, connecting them together and to pumps, daily assessment of photobioreactor functioning (e.g. visual by color, by looking at oxygen production), assessing and repairing damage because of weather events
  • Maintain the weather station and its log. This includes transferring of logged data to a common server, distribution of log data to team members and weekly checkup of proper alignment of sensors
  • Order supplies
  • Work with pumps and tubing, alkaline media. This includes assessing wear and tear on pumps and tubing, replacing parts if necessary
  • Quantify productivity of photobioreactors using volumetric O2 measurements, drying/ashing of microbial biomass. This includes entering of the O2 production rates measured by a volumetric gas flow meter into a spreadsheet, together with the productivity estimates from drying/ashing of the biomass. For this, biomass will be sampled from the photobioreactors weekly. It needs to be concentrated by settling and/or filtration, quantified using a scale, dried at 60°C, once more quantified using a scale and finally, ashed in a muffle oven and quantified using a scale
  • Work with organic solar cells. This includes measurement of current and voltage, entering these data into a spreadsheet together with data from the weather station and light meters
  • Prepare growth media. This includes using a recipe to prepare large quantities of aqueous media (~500L). All medium components (salts) need to be weighed and added individually to a desired volume of water, pH must be measured.
  • Prepare reports in the form of spreadsheets and graphs. This includes working with programs such as Word, Excel and Powerpoint. A basic understanding of the experiments performed is expected and this role will interpret results by indicating whether they are according to the expectations or differ from the expectations
  • Prepare written and oral reports
  • Maintain a clean and organized working environment. This includes laboratory management, cleaning up after experiments and organizing team members to do the same
  • Support and collaborate with other team members. This includes training new group members to properly use the infrastructure, assisting them in their experiments and organizing them so that joint objectives are met
  • Communicate (verbal and written communication) with the team, project leads and external stakeholders. This includes critical interpretation of results, sharing honest opinions with team members, discussing messages with team leads and conveying the agreed upon messages to externals

Qualifications / Requirements:

  • Hands-on experience with assembly of PVC tubes/pipes, fluid flow
  • Hands-on experience with pumps, tubing and preparing aqueous media
  • Excellent general troubleshooting skills
  • A MSc in engineering or other relevant technical degree
  • Ability to perform physical work outdoors in all weather conditions

Application Deadline: July 20, 2018

We would like to thank all applicants in advance for submitting their resumes. Please note, only those candidates chosen to continue on through the selection process will be contacted.

Additional Information

This position is part of the AUPE bargaining unit, and falls under the Technical Job Family, Phase I.

To find out more about management and staff opportunities at the University of Calgary and all we have to offer, view our Management and Staff Careers website. For more information about the Faculty of Science visit Careers in the Faculty of Science.


About the University of Calgary

The University of Calgary is Canada’s leading next-generation university – a living, growing and youthful institution that embraces change and opportunity with a can-do attitude. Located in the nation’s most enterprising city, the university is making tremendous progress on its Eyes High journey to be recognized as one of Canada’s top five research universities, grounded in innovative learning and teaching and fully integrated with the community it both serves and leads. The University of Calgary inspires and supports discovery, creativity and innovation across all disciplines. For more information, visit

The University of Calgary recognizes that a diverse staff/faculty benefits and enriches the work, learning and research experiences of the entire campus and greater community. We are committed to removing barriers that have been historically encountered by some people in our society. We strive to recruit individuals who will further enhance our diversity and will support their professional success while they are here. We encourage all qualified applicants to apply, however preference will be given to Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada.


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