Research Optical Engineer | Northwestern University


Posted: 17-Jan-22

Location: Evanston, Illinois

Type: Full Time


Academia, Research Laboratory

Job Function:


Years of Experience:


Research Optical Engineer 

The Backman Lab at the Center for Physical Genomics and Engineering (CPGE) at Northwestern University is seeking a research optical engineer to join a multidisciplinary team of scientists leading cutting-edge research at the crossroads of biology, physics, engineering, genomics and medicine. Our lab develops new imaging technologies (partial wave spectroscopic microscopy (PWS), intrinsic contrast-stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (IC-STORM), inverse spectroscopic optical coherence tomography (ISOCT), etc.) to interrogate fundamental molecular questions and develop novel approaches relevant to the prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other currently intractable diseases at early, treatable stages.

As evidenced by recent publications in Nature Biomedical Engineering, Science Advances, PNAS, Cancer Research, and Scientific Reports, we undertake systematic approaches to understand carcinogenesis and cancer development by integrating molecular dynamics simulations, live-cell super-resolution nano-imaging, computational genomics, and genome mapping technologies. Through CPGE the lab is a participant in two of the National Cancer Institute’s U54 cancer research networks, with significant funding and recognition as both an NCI Center for Cancer Mestastases Research (in collaboration with MIT) and an NCI Center for Cellular Cancer Biology Imaging. Additionally, the Center runs the first physical genomics training program in the United States, supported by an NIH T32 grant.

The lab provides a highly collaborative transdisciplinary environment populated by researchers with diverse backgrounds: biomedical engineering, molecular biology, computer science, biophysics, chemical engineering, etc. CPGE has collaborative projects with over 20 physicians, biomedical, and physical sciences investigators both internationally and domestically.

We are looking for an independent, highly creative and resourceful individual that enjoys hands-on work to provide technical expertise and lead the development, validation and maintenance of optical instruments in a fast-paced research environment. The successful candidate will join our multidisciplinary team of engineers, scientists and staff to provide direction and coordination in the planning, implementation and improvement of the lab’s imaging technology platforms (both hardware & software), manage current & future equipment needs in a manner that is driven for consistently improved performance, ensure safe operations, provide training to users and acquire data for various ongoing projects. 

Responsibility and Duties:

  • Works independently and as part of a team in the experimental planning and design of optical microscopy instruments.
  • Responsible for hands-on instrumentation development and validation.
  • Performs data acquisition and analysis for validation of instruments and protocols. Records detailed observation and measurements, and presents those findings in meetings as required.
  • Ability to prepare and acquire data for samples from across a variety of cell types, slide formats and media conditions within specifications and timelines provided.
  • Operates, maintains and identifies opportunities for improvement of existing optical instruments.
  • Manages equipment use and trains new users
  • Maintains high level of professional expertise through familiarity with scientific literature.
  • Participates in the development of new research proposals.
  • Additional duties may be required at the discretion of the supervisor.

Education requirements:

  • Bachelor’s Degree (Master’s preferred) in Mechanical, Electrical or Biomedical Engineering -related field required with coursework in optics/optical engineering, optical microscopy, and system design. 

Minimum competencies (Skills, knowledge and abilities):

Only applicants meeting the following minimum qualifications will be considered for the position.

  • A minimum of two (2) years of laboratory research experience in optical device development, especially optical microscopy, system analysis and optical engineering is required, with preference given to candidates with three or more years of experience.
  • Knowledge of diverse forms of microscopy and optics instrumentation (e.g. spectrometer, microscopes) preferred.
  • To qualify on the basis of education in lieu of experience, a Master’s degree in science or engineering is preferred.
  • Preference will be given to candidates who have major hands-on experience in optical instrumentation design, fabrication and validation.
  • A working understanding of Python, SolidWorks, MS Office and MatLab is required.
  • Preference will be given to candidates with excellent prioritization and project development skills
  • Excellent oral and written skills required
  • Extremely good interpersonal skills required

Northwestern University is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer of all protected classes, including veterans and individuals with disabilities. Women, racial and ethnic minorities, individuals with disabilities, and veterans are encouraged to apply. Hiring is contingent upon eligibility to work in the United States.

Applicants should send a CV and cover letter to Benjamin Keane at [email protected]

Apply Here: