Senior Scientist - Virology


Employer of the week
  • Location:
  • Salary:
    £31,500 - £37,500

Job Description

About the job


Dstl (the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory) delivers high-impact Science and Technology for the UK's defence, security and prosperity. In order to do this, we need people who can use their skills to innovate and develop technologies which ensure we are at the forefront of science. We work in niche areas which are sensitive in nature, operationally-critical to the UK and internationally recognised in importance. Our work therefore has to be done within government.

We are looking for self-motivated, enthusiastic individuals to work within our growing Chemical Biological (CB) Analysis and Attribution capability. This is an exciting area where you will be part of a highly skilled team of scientific specialists. The work undertaken in this area ranges from research, exercising in the form of competency and proficiency testing through to real world operational sample analysis and attribution. The capability has impact at the highest levels of government and through this opportunity you could become part of the team
We need an experienced virologist with a strong track record in the field to help shape the future and development of a new exciting virology capability. This capability will develop methods and processes to analyse and identify highly pathogenic organisms. To support you in this goal, you will also be encouraged to have or be able to rapidly develop networks with various external partners (e.g. Academia, International Defence and Security Agencies). You will build and develop validated analytical procedures and processes which will meet the standards for accreditation under our quality system (ISO 17025).

Job description

In this role you will:

• Work with the existing technical team to develop and implement a plan of research that improves the analysis and attribution capability
• Develop robust new scientific procedures by working closely with the appropriate safety
• Undertake virology research in support of operational analysis activities
• Identify and lead the development and validation of new/existing operational analysis methods to enable accreditation under ISO17025
• Conduct and/or lead analysis of customer samples
• Ensure that staff are suitably qualified and experienced to undertake research and analysis
• Be responsible for the development of the capability

Job Dimensions
In this job you will work with research scientists with different scientific skills and disciplines. You will report your technical work to the Project Technical Authority and be line managed by the team leader. The team is made up of 10 scientists primarily with a microbiological background and a quality manager. As part of this role there is an opportunity join an on-call rota system once you are trained and established in the role, this would involve working outside of normal hours and would attract an additional payment.

We are looking for someone who has:

• As a minimum has a PhD (or an equivalent level of experience) in field of virology
• Evidence of being a skilled presenter (i.e. oral, written form) and communicator who can explain complex scientific messages in an understandable way to a non-experts when required
• Evidence of being able to think strategically, prioritise work accordingly and developing a team that works towards a common goal
• An appreciation of working within the UK accreditation quality system (i.e. under ISO17025) will be advantageous


• Leading and influencing a team
• Problem-solving
• Effective time management
• Scientific writing
• Presentation skills
• Proficient in the use of MS Office suite (Word, Excel, Outlook, Powerpoint)


• Relevant laboratory experience including working in high containment laboratories with hazard group 3 pathogens.
• Developing safe working procedures and practises for hazard group 3 pathogens.
• Developing methods for the detection and identification of virus (e.g. PCR, DNA/RNA sequencing).
• Familiarity with PCR and other molecular biology methods.
• Familiarity or experience of genomic sequencing.
• Setting objectives and delivering through delegation.

• Experience working in an ISO 17025 quality system.
• Previous experience with hazard group 4 pathogens.

Membership of the Royal Society of Biology or equivalent body is desirable.

Important Information
This role will require full UK security clearance and you should have resided in the UK for the past 5 years. For some Developed Vetting will also be required, in this case you should have resided in the UK for the past 10 years.

Our work is highly sensitive and you will need a high level of security clearance to understand the security threats you are working to defeat. For this reason, we regret that only UK Nationals will be able to apply for this role. If you are an international or dual-national candidate, and you think you have the skills we need, please consider applying to any of our partner organisations across Defence. We work closely with Defence Industry on many projects, so it would be great to work with you via one of our partners.
We'll assess you against these behaviours during the selection process:

Communicating and Influencing
Working Together
Delivering at Pace
Managing a Quality Service
Technical skills
We'll assess you against these technical skills during the selection process:

Tell us about your experience / expertise in the methodology of detecting and identifying viruses?
Tell us about a scientific idea that you've had and how you made it into a reality? (e.g. into a capability, procedure, publication)
Tell us why you are applying for the role and what you can bring to it in terms of knowledge and experience?


We'll provide a great range of benefits including;

• Fully flexible working, including alternative working patterns, annualised hours, compressed hours and job share, to name a few.
• Flexible Working hours, a 12 month reference period and the ability to bank hours. Up to 20 hours can be taken in any calendar month
• Excellent learning and development to ensure everyone fulfils their potential.
• Maternity, adoption or shared parental leave of up to 26 weeks full pay followed by 13 weeks statutory pay and a further 13 weeks unpaid, and paternity leave of 2 weeks full pay.
• Chartership and accreditation support.
• Pension.
• Generous annual leave, with the ability to buy and sell up to 5 days holiday per year.
• A competitive salary.
• Onsite gyms and restaurants.
• Staff discounts for high street and online shopping, restaurants and days out.

Our Diversity Networks

Dstl recognises the importance of diversity and inclusion as people from diverse backgrounds bring fresh ideas. We are committed to building an inclusive working environment in which each employee fulfils their potential and maximises their contribution. We have a number of support networks to ensure all employees feel supported at work.

These include the following;
- Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Network
- Faith and Culture Network
- Parents and Carer Support Network
- Alternative Working Network
- Gender Equality Network
- New Starters Network
- Enabled Network, for people with visible and non-visible disabilities.

For further information about Dstl please check out our LinkedIn page 
Things you need to know
Successful candidates must pass a disclosure and barring security check.
Successful candidates must meet the security requirements before they can be appointed. The level of security needed is security check.
People working with government assets must complete basic personnel security standard checks.
Selection process details
This vacancy is using Success Profiles, and will assess your Behaviours, Experience and Technical skills.
The Sift will be completed by 9th November and will assess your answers to the Technical Skills questions and how your CV matches the requirements for the role as detailed in the attached job description.

Interviews will be held on 23rd November and will consist of a combined technical and behavioural interview assessing your skills and experience in relation to the job description.

Due to the current situation interviews are likely to be held via video link and full details will be sent to you should you be invited to an interview.

Please note that Dstl will be contacting individuals via email and you should check your junk mail folder regularly. Any attachments may not be available via smart phone or tablet views.

If you are applying for this position as a Job Share please indicate if you have a partner who is also applying for this vacancy and if you are successful but they are not if you would still consider the role.

Feedback will only be provided if you attend an interview or assessment.
Nationality requirements
Open to UK nationals only.

This job is not open to candidates who hold a dual nationality.
Working for the Civil Service
The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants.

We recruit by merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission's recruitment principles.
The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equal opportunities. As such, we run a Disability Confident Scheme (DCS) for candidates with disabilities who meet the minimum selection criteria.
Apply and further information
Once this job has closed, the job advert will no longer be available. You may want to save a copy for your records.
Contact point for applicants

Job contact :
Name : DSTL Recruitment
Email :
Recruitment team :
Email :

Further information
Should you wish to raise a formal complaint about the Dstl recruitment process you should email stating the nature of the issue. We will respond within 5 working days.

If you have a disability we will try our best to make reasonable adjustments to remove any barriers to this post in the application / interview process due to a disability.