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Scientist, Strain Optimization Lead

Berkeley, California

Posted on 03/26/2018


Fueled by an innovative drive and a deep understanding of the microbiome, Pivot Bio is pioneering game-changing advances in crop nutrition. Our proprietary ON Technology™ harnesses the power of naturally occurring microbes to give crops increased access to key nutrients. It’s a smart, sustainable way for farmers to improve yield as they work to help feed the world’s growing population.

Pivot Bio is seeking a scientist to lead the development and execution of our Strain Optimization pipeline. Our Strain Optimization team has developed a pipeline that allows us to rapidly generate non-transgenic bacterial strains that are optimized for target phenotypes, such as nitrogen fixation. This role will be instrumental in innovating this pipeline for increased throughput and efficiency, as well as identifying and implementing new strategies to improve strain performance. The selected candidate will initially begin fully immersed in the day-to-day of our pipeline at the bench, and will transition into leading the team over 3-6 months.

Responsibilities of the Strain Optimization Lead include:

  • Prioritize, plan and direct strain optimization projects to generate high-performance remodeled strains in time for field trial deadlines, which occur several times annually
  • Coordinate experimental timelines and data/strain handoffs with the broader team
  • Lead the development of improved or new workflows to accelerate the pipeline
  • Work cross-functionally with automation engineers to develop automated workflows
  • Provide hands-on guidance at the bench to the team on troubleshooting and optimizing existing protocols
  • Manage the work and professional development of a team of 3-4 Research Associates
  • Present key results and advances to the broader Pivot team
  • Build an in-depth knowledge of the scientific literature on microbial traits benefiting plant nutrition, such as nitrogen fixation, phosphate solubilization, plant-microbe interactions, etc.

Required Qualifications:

  • Ph.D. in molecular biology, biochemistry, microbiology or a related field with 2+ years’ post-doctoral experience in an industrial setting, OR M.S. with 4+ years’ industry experience, OR B.S./B.A. with 8+ years’ industry experience
  • At least two years’ experience working on a microbial strain engineering platform in an industry setting
  • Exceptional command of a range of molecular biology techniques, such as plasmid assembly and genome editing
  • Experience successfully mentoring or managing students, interns or research assistants
  • Strong organization and communication skills, and a passion for collaboration
  • Comfortable in a fast paced, milestone- and deadline-driven setting

Desired Skills and Expertise:

  • Track record of building, optimizing and automating high-throughput strain engineering workflows or platforms
  • Success leading and managing a scientific team in an industrial setting
  • Experience with genetic manipulation of non-standard bacterial hosts
  • Broad knowledge of prokaryotic metabolism, especially nitrogen metabolism
  • Knowledge of molecular plant-microbe interactions


Please e-mail your resume to careers@pivotbio.com with “Position: Scientist, Strain Optimization Lead” in the subject line.