Research Engineer – (Los Angeles, California, United States)

The University of Southern California (USC), founded in 1880, is located in the heart of downtown L.A. and is the largest private employer in the City of Los Angeles. As an employee of USC, you will be a part of a world-class research university and a member of the “Trojan Family,” which comprises the faculty, students, and staff that make the university what it is.

The USC Michelson Center Convergent Science Institute in Cancer (CSI-Cancer) is studying circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and other analytes in the liquid biopsies (blood, bone marrow aspirates, and other liquids) of cancer patients as an approach to manage cancer care. CSI-Cancer is led by Prof. Peter Kuhn as Director and Prof. James Hicks as Deputy Director and joined by a senior staff leadership team. Our data science driven single-cell multi-omic approach allows us to look at the morphology, proteome, and genome of these CTCs individually. Collectively, this information permits an understanding of the disease in hopes of enabling personalized care in oncology.

We are currently searching for an energetic, passionate, and dedicated staff research engineer to work as a member of the institute’s data and infrastructure team to help advance data science in the overall research enterprise. Our effort is led by multidisciplinary scientists and physicians across the nation. We have multiple ongoing clinical studies to explore the utility of the liquid biopsy in different cancers. The qualified candidate will develop, integrate and maintain the liquid handling system for our new large slide format and process pipelines working closely with the data analysis and research personnel across multiple research programs ( The qualified candidate will play a vital role in supporting the research and data infrastructure and analytic activities of the institute, directly report to the director of data science infrastructure, and interface with staff, students, and postdoctoral fellows on research projects.

Utilizes engineering experience, analytical and programming skills to install, configure and integrate the liquid handling for our next generation large slide into the liquid biopsy pipeline format. Assists with equipment/data integration and analytic problems, helping to define the appropriate data and discovering solutions.

Duties & Responsibilities:

  • Helps specify requirements, builds, iterates, and validates the liquid handling system to enable staining of the large slide format. Able to perform end to end engineering tasks including gathering specifications, developing workplans, understanding mechanical processes in laboratory equipment, developing standard operating procedures and troubleshooting.
  • Utilizes engineering best practices to effectively solve problems including testing, deploying and iterating solutions. Performs equipment setup, troubleshooting and analysis as needed, improving data quality and providing feedback to ensure its adequacy, accuracy, and legitimacy.
  • Interfaces with vendors and researchers to identify and determine requirements. Conducts detailed systems analysis to define system scope, objectives and implementation   approach.
  • Supports continuous improvements by maintaining currency with new technologies and leveraging the latest industry knowledge to continually develop skills, knowledge, and abilities.
  • Promotes an environment that fosters inclusive relationships and creates unbiased opportunities for contributions through ideas, words, and actions that uphold principles of the USC Code of Ethics.
  • Makes technical presentations and demonstrations at conferences and/or meetings.
  • Performs other related duties as assigned or requested. The university reserves the right to add or change duties at any time.

Minimum Field of Expertise:

  • Experience with liquid handling systems such as auto-stainers and liquid handling robots
  • Experience with equipment installation, configuration and integration into laboratory workflows
  • Experience using computer languages (e.g., C/C++/C#, Python, SQL) to interact with and integrate laboratory equipment
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills. Ability to provide both detailed information and summaries to management-level individuals and groups. Experience developing collaborative relationships and delivering customer-focused service
  • Proven problem-solving and decision-making skills, and the ability to uncover root cause and evaluate different solution options.

Preferred Education:

  • Doctorate

Preferred Experience:

  • 5 years

Preferred Field of Expertise:

  • Experience in liquid handling systems (liquid handling robots, auto-stainers) or related experience.
  • Demonstrated interest in mechanical systems in laboratory settings and experience with equipment integration in to process pipelines
  • Ability to write high-quality computer code for interacting with laboratory equipment. Familiarity with unit testing, source control and code review.

Salary range:

The annual base salary range for this position is $90,000 $100,000. When extending an offer of employment, the University of Southern California considers factors such as (but not limited to) the scope and responsibilities of the position, the candidate’s work experience, education/training, key skills, internal peer equity, federal, state and local laws, contractual stipulations, grant funding, as well as external market and organizational considerations.

Performs other related duties as assigned or requested. The university reserves the right to add or change duties at any time.

Required Documents and Additional Information:

  • Interested individuals should provide their CV and a 1-2 page cover letter describing their professional goals and how their work/research experience can advance CSI-Cancer’s mission ( (may be uploaded as one file). Please do not submit your application without these documents.
  • Job openings are posted for a minimum of (5) five business days. This job may be removed from posting boards and filled any time after the minimum posting period has ended, so please apply on the same business day if interested.
  • USC has excellent benefits, including health benefits for staff and their family with access to the renowned university medical network; eligibility for retirement plans with employer contributions after six months of employment; tuition benefits for staff and their family; free Professional Development classes; central Los Angeles location with easy access to commuter trains, buses and free tram pick up services; discounts to sporting and other campus events.

The University of Southern California is an Equal Opportunity Employer that Values Diversity.

Minimum Education:
Master’s degree Or
Master’s degree Engineering Or
Master’s degree in related field(s)

Minimum Experience:
3 years

Minimum Skills:
Experience in a laboratory setting conducting scientific research.
Excellent written and oral communication skills.
Ability to communicate technical information to non-technical audiences.

Preferred Education:

Preferred Experience:
5 years

Preferred Skills:
Proven experience achieving results in a scientific research environment.
Deep knowledge base in specific field.

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