United Republic of Tanzania: Behavioural Research Technician

Organization: APOPO
Country: United Republic of Tanzania
Closing date: 16 Feb 2018

APOPO is a Belgian non-profit organization that has developed an innovative method using African giant pouched rats (Cricetomys ansorgei), nicknamed “HeroRATs”, to detect landmines and tuberculosis using their extraordinary sense of smell.

APOPO is currently seeking inquisitive and motivated researcher technicians to join our growing team conducting basic and applied research with global impact relevant to the scent detection abilities of the HeroRATs.

Candidates should hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher in psychology, neuroscience, biology, anthropology, or another related field. Keen attention to detail and prior experience conducting behavioral research (preferably with rodents) are required. Candidates with prior experience examining olfactory learning or discrimination behavior are strongly encouraged to apply.

The successful candidate will work closely with APOPO’s training and research team at our headquarters in Morogoro, Tanzania where opportunities for research related to our ongoing operations in mine-detection and TB-detection research also exist.

ROLE PURPOSE

  1. Broadly support APOPO’s management and research teams;

  2. Provide primary assistance to Post-doctoral and PhD student researchers in the design, execution, and analysis of research studies intended to further advance APOPO as a center of excellence in animal scent detection;

  3. Direct, hands-on involvement in all specified aspects of research across various stages, including session planning, sample preparation, and data entry;

  4. Maintain regular and close communication with other members of the research team including trainers, sample preparers, and supervisors;

  5. Assist with troubleshooting experimental progress;

  6. Work closely with other research team members to identify evolving responsibilities to support APOPO’s research and activities;

  7. Assist with drafting, revising, and submitting manuscripts that describe APOPO’s research results for publication;

  8. Assist with writing grant proposals seeking funds to support APOPO’s research and development activities;

  9. Actively engage in scientific discussion during routine research team meetings;

  10. Help build research and scientific capacity by training other APOPO staff members

EDUCATION

Profile:

Bachelor’s degree or higher in related field or substantial laboratory experience relevant to Discrimination Learning and Scent Detection by Rats

EXPERIENCE

Profile:

  • 1-5 years of experience in conducting behavioral research

  • 1-5 years supervising research

  • Familiarity with scientific manuscript preparation and publication process

KEY RESPONSIBILITIES

1 Broadly support APOPO’s management and research teams

Deliverables

  • Participate in all management and R&D team meetings to which you have been invited;

  • Report any new and important scientific results or research opportunities;

  • Proactively report any concerns regarding research activities or animal welfare;

  • Identify and recommend opportunities for staff capacity building;

  • Update platform presentations with research and operational results as requested by APOPO management.

2 Provide primary assistance to Post-doctoral and PhD student researchers in the design, execution, and analysis of research studies intended to further advance APOPO as a center of excellence in animal scent detection

Deliverables

  • Work closely with Post-doc and PhD student researchers to identify fluid responsibilities, goals, and timelines;

  • Quickly adapt to changing needs of research project(s);

  • Assist with designing, executing, and monitoring the relevant research, including development of SOPs and training protocols;

  • Regularly monitor, analyze, and report progress and results to the primary researcher;

  • Assist Post-doc and/or PhD student researcher with the development of protocols and proposals to address the goals of the research plan;

  • Through collaboration with Post-doc, PhD student researcher, Head of Training & Research, and other research team members, provide suggestions for carrying the work forward in a competent fashion, including altering procedures from the research plan as necessary;

  • Promptly deliver reports, figures, analyses and summaries when requested;

  • Effectively communicate all concerns in a timely manner.

3 Direct, hands-on involvement in all specified aspects of research across various stages, including session planning, sample preparation, and data entry

Deliverables

  • Supervise and support ongoing research;

  • Utilize appropriate software to plan daily sessions for rats participating in experiments;

  • Generate sample preparation or position lists and datasheets using appropriate software;

  • Conduct daily training or test sessions where training staff unavailable;

  • Prepare samples to be presented to the rats as needed;

  • Extract, compile, and analyze results from daily training/test sessions and share this information with appropriate parties on a regular basis according to agreed schedule;

  • Collect additional data relevant to the experiment (e.g., rat weights, feeding schedules, etc.) and record in appropriate database according to agreed schedule;

  • Collaborate with other research team members to develop protocols and proposals to meet research needs;

  • Maintain exceptional standards for animal welfare and communicate any potential concerns to Post-doc, PhD student researcher, and/or Head of Training & Research immediately.

4 Maintain regular and close communication with other members of the research team including trainers, sample preparers, and supervisors

Deliverables

  • Attend regularly scheduled team meetings;

  • Directly observe training and test sessions, complete data entry, sample preparation, etc., as warranted;

  • Communicate with supervisors, sample preparers, and trainers as necessary to ensure proper timing of training and test sessions;

  • Promptly reply to requests from Post-doc, PhD student researcher, and Head of Training & Research;

  • Collaborate with other members of the team to ensure all necessary tasks are properly attended.

5 Assist with troubleshooting experimental progress

Deliverables

  • Regularly review ongoing results and experimental progress;

  • Routinely analyze and compile data and provide to other members of the research team (e.g., Post-doc, PhD student researcher, and/or Head of Training & Research) in a timely manner;

  • Directly observe training and/or test sessions;

  • Pro-actively identify potential sources of failure in process, procedure, or apparatus;

  • Recommend courses of action for research in pipeline or ongoing.

6 Work closely with other research team members to identify evolving responsibilities to support APOPO’s research and activities

  • Flexibly adapt to fluid demands of research project to support continued progress;

  • Propose additional areas where your (or other) support could be needed and communicate these suggestions to the research team, including Head of Training & Research;

  • Provide additional assistance to cover the absence of other research team members, including trainers, within reason;

  • Actively seek ownership of new projects that fall within your skill-set and communicate these interests to the Head of Training & Research.

7 Assist other members of the research team in drafting, revising, and submitting manuscripts that describe APOPO’s research results for publication

Deliverables

  • Provide critical input in the preparation and submission of manuscripts describing any APOPO data deemed worthy of publication by the research team

  • Assist the CEO, Head of Training & Research, and others, as requested, in preparing summaries of APOPO’s research and progress reports for submission to agencies that have funded the research and other appropriate parties.

8 Assist with process of grant proposal writing to seek funds to support APOPO’s research and activities

Deliverables

  • Work with other members of the research team to consider the funding needs of all of APOPO’s research and development activities;

  • Identify and suggest possible sources of funding;

  • Assist with grant proposal preparations and submissions.

9 Actively engage in scientific discussion during routine research team meetings

Deliverables

  • Punctually attend regularly scheduled R&D meetings;

  • Contribute to discussions in a professionally courteous and respectful manner;

  • Actively participate in meetings by engaging in discussions, which may be related to: experimental design, trouble-shooting performance, apparatus design, data analysis, manuscript preparation, conference attendance, etc.;

  • Report any new and important scientific results or research opportunities;

  • Proactively report any concerns regarding training or research activities;

  • Participate in brainstorming sessions to design or troubleshoot behavioural research experiments;

  • Prepare for meetings by reading necessary materials (where appropriate), compiling data to present to the team, and/or facilitating discussion of relevant journal articles using visual aids.

10 Help build research and scientific capacity by training other APOPO staff members

Deliverables

  • Assist APOPO staff undergoing animal training courses;

  • Identify areas for additional capacity building among training and research staff

  • Assist in development of capacity building tools to ensure proper compliance with SOP’s;

  • Conduct skills training seminars with assistance from management and other research team members.

APOPO is an Equal Opportunity Employer and considers applicants for all positions without regard to race, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, gender identity, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, military/veteran status, or citizenship status.

How to apply:

Please join APOPO’s dynamic international team and help us make a difference! Send your CV and motivation letter to the following link: http://bit.ly/2fALnjj.

The closing date for applications is February 16th, 2018. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted for an interview.

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