Laboratory Research Specialist
Location: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Job type: Full-time 

Position Overview: 

We seek a candidate with expertise in molecular biology techniques such as DNA/RNA extraction, PCR techniques, and data analysis. The laboratory specialist will be responsible for complying with the responsibilities of performing mosquito PCR testing, sample handling, sample storage, protocols development, quality control assessments, inventory management, training employees, prepare reports and assist in others PRVCU activities as necessary. The laboratory specialist must operate the variety of instrumentation/tools, and computer systems utilized to perform the job functions and participate in tests and projects as assigned. Such work shall be conducted by all applicable Federal, State, and local laws, and per PRVCU’s policies and procedures established by PRVCU’s management.

 Key Responsibilities and Duties: 

  • Test for the presence of viral and other pathogens in mosquito pools. Conduct RNA/DNA PCR testing, sample receiving, reagents mix preparation, mosquito handling, sample storage. Ability to precisely execute written protocols is required.
  • Assist in establishing specifications, and in the validation of assays, developing and writing SOPs.
  • Assist in the training of new employees or coworkers in PCR techniques.
  • Maintain quality control over all molecular biology techniques used in the laboratory including issue investigation and resolution, quality of testing, and quality of finished products results.
  • Monitor, maintain, calibrate, and troubleshoot routine common problems with lab equipment and instrumentation.
  • Knowledge of good laboratory practices, including sample and reagent preparation techniques, sample handling, and good record keeping.
  • Manage supplies and reagents inventory up to date and request materials on time.
  • Records data fully in a precise, organized, and readable format.
  • Plan and conduct research studies for existing and new technologies.
  • Collaborate with researchers from the PRVCU and other external entities.
  • Present data in an understandable and analytical manner (Oral presentations, posters, papers).
  • Continuously interacts with Lab Supervisor to complete scheduled tasks and ensure project timelines are met.
  • Works with minimum supervision takes the initiative and provides direction/leadership to team on problem-solving, work prioritization, process improvements, etc.
  • Help maintain a clean, safe laboratory facility. Follow good laboratory practices and lead by example.
  • Actively commit to and participate in our lab and corporate safety programs: including following all safety protocols and procedures. Learning to recognize and report hazards and take appropriate action to keep yourself and others safe. Participate in safety programs, activities, including delivering safety training’s on a variety of topics.
  • Assist in other laboratory activities (mosquito identification, insectary work, insecticide resistance testing, mortality assays), if necessary.
  • Assist in the evaluation of products or techniques of potential value to the PRVCU control programs.
  • Assist in education and outreach activities if necessary.

Since our organization is going to change to meet the needs of public health, environmental conservation, and the PRVCU, you can expect, anticipate, and assume that your job description will change to meet these challenges.

Education, Training, and Experiences: 

  • Bachelor degree in Microbiology, Biology, or related field. Master degree preferred.
  • Knowledge of general biology laboratory practices and techniques.
  • Preferred 2-5 years of experience in molecular microbiology, in particular with PCR techniques, mosquito arboviral testing (Trioplex testing), DNA/RNA extraction, and real-time PCR data analysis.
  • Preferred experience working with the following equipment and systems: Magna Pure 96 system, CFX96 Touch™ Real-Time PCR Detection System, TissueLyser.
  • Ability to work independently.
  • Must be able to follow instructions exactly.
  • Analytical ability required to gather and interpret data in different situations.
  • Experience with Microsoft Office.
  • Ability to receive and act upon input from Lab Supervisor.
  • Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with other PRVCU employees.
  • Ability to interact with the general public and with personnel of Federal, State, and local government agencies, and industry.
  • Ability to work on weekends if necessary.
  • Must hold valid Puerto Rico driver’s license – occasional day travel to our Ponce facility may be required.

Physical requirements 

  • Possess the ability to work in a fast-paced production environment.
  • Ability to perform tasks requiring bending, stooping, standing, and twisting in the performance of various tasks in the laboratory and or production environment.

Please send your resume to [email protected]. Please include contact information, indicate whether or not you speak Spanish and English fluently, and are available to start within one to three weeks of being notified.

Overview of the organization

The Puerto Rico Science Technology and Research Trust is a private non-profit organization created in 2004 to encourage and promote innovation, transfer and commercialization of technology and creation of jobs in the technology sector. We are responsible for Puerto Rico’s public policy for science, technology, research and development. The Trust’s mission is to invest, facilitate and build capacity to continually advance Puerto Rico’s economy and its citizens’ well-being through innovation-driven enterprises, science and technology and its industrial base. Our vision is that by 2022, Puerto Rico is a globally recognized innovation hub that develops, attracts, and retains scientists, technology entrepreneurs, and enterprises to unlock world class creativity and competitiveness

The Puerto Rico Vector Control Unit (PRVCU) main responsibilities is to develop, lead, and deploy an effective integrated vector management (IVM) strategy to reduce the Aedes aegypti population and the burden of Zika, chikungunya, and dengue. PRVCU will carry out vector surveillance, community engagement and IVM for effective mosquito control.