Assistant Director of Research
2023-2024 Faculty Recruitment
July 26, 2023
Why Biochemistry and Biophysics (BCBP) at UNC?
BCBP is a premiere department for basic mechanistic research into the molecular basis of biological systems, and we have a long history of success. The well-established culture of generous cooperation in BCBP and at UNC fosters and rewards collaboration. Faculty collaborate in research projects, in mentoring students and postdocs, in team teaching, and in building a vibrant and inclusive research community. In addition, UNC and the School of Medicine make substantial investments in many technologically sophisticated core facilities, in graduate and postdoc recruitment and training, and in ensuring that every individual can thrive. The Department provides professional development and leadership opportunities for students, postdoctoral scholars, and faculty of all ranks. Most BCBP labs are housed in the modern Genetic Medicine Building with extensive shared equipment and an open lab format. As part of a proudly public University, we celebrate working together to build community and enhance access to success while making ground-breaking discoveries that push the boundaries of modern science for the benefit of human health.
This outstanding research environment is embedded in Chapel Hill, part of the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. The Research Triangle includes Chapel Hill (UNC), Durham (Duke), and Raleigh (NC State) surrounding a vibrant pharmaceutical, biotech, and high-tech industry hub plus a branch of the NIH and the EPA. We enjoy reasonable costs of living, outstanding public schools, a highly educated population (top 10 PhD/capita in the US), an ethnically/racially/internationally diverse community, mild weather, and a wide range of cultural activities (music, theater award-winning dining, arts, sports, etc.). We are 3-4 hours from the beautiful Appalachian Mountains to the west and destination NC beaches to the east; the nearby international airport connects us to the rest of the US and the world.Apply Here
FAQ about BCBP
- Each junior faculty member assembles a formal mentoring committee and also receives frequent informal mentoring from peers and senior faculty. Our proud culture of collaboration connects junior faculty with those in other departments and schools. Criteria for promotion are specific, well-known, and shared with all faculty.
- Trainings in mentoring are provided by the Office of Graduate Education in the School of Medicine in addition to other trainings in leadership, grantsmanship, and teaching provided by UNC (e.g. Faculty and Leadership Development, Center for Faculty Excellence, Carolina Writing Center, etc.).
- Junior faculty are not asked to participate in classroom teaching or major service during their first year.
- BCBP is one of 15 programs in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program (BBSP). Students apply to BBSP and participate in 3 laboratory rotations during the first academic year. When they choose a thesis lab, they also choose a PhD program, and that program does not have to be tied to the primary academic appointment of their dissertation lab. Around 100-105 new BBSP students matriculate each year from across the US and around the world.
- Most teaching is in graduate classes that are usually small, discussion-based, and focused on primary literature. Most graduate classes are team-taught by several faculty.
- BCBP has minimal responsibility for undergraduate classroom teaching, although many undergraduates participate in research in BCBP labs through UNC research for credit, federal work-study, and summer internships. BCBP faculty may contribute to professional education in the MD or health sciences on as as-needed basis.
- BCBP faculty participate in many research training programs including undergraduate and post-baccalaureate programs in addition to post-doctoral training.
FAQ about the 2023-2024 faculty recruiting season
Enhancing the scientific research and training environment of BCBP is a top priority. Our goal is to grow in broad categories of biochemistry and molecular biology that focus deeply on molecular mechanisms.
- The cover letter should describe how prior and proposed research integrate with and complement the current Department research. Applicants can briefly describe potential future contributions to the UNC and BCBP educational, training, and community-building missions which are then expanded in the teaching, mentoring, and leadership statement. Include information about the motivation for choosing BCBP as a future faculty home. The cover letter need not extensively duplicate information in the CV or other parts of the application, and 1-1.5 pages should be sufficient.
- The most important aspect of a faculty applicant is the research program they will build in the future. In the first phase, the hiring committee will focus only on the research plan without potential distraction or bias introduced by other aspects of the application. The second review phase will include the full application, including references.
- The plan can refer to the applicant’s experiences and qualifications but should not include the names of any researchers who performed the work, institutions where the work was done, specific publications or journals, or funding organizations (remove names from the header also).
- Example text:
- Traditional, non-anonymized: “As a [Named Fellowship] postdoc in Professor X’s lab at University of Z, I designed and optimized an assay that can [do something amazing]. I used this to discover [important finding].
- Anonymized: “As a postdoc I designed and optimized a new assay that can [do something amazing]. I used this to discover [important finding].
- Figures are encouraged and are included in the 3 page limit.
- Citations in the bibliography to the applicant’s own work must also be anonymized to remove all journal and author names. For example, “Applicant, author #1 of 6 (1995). Reconstitution of human DNA repair excision nuclease in a highly defined system.” The bibliography is not included in the 3-page maximum
- BCBP and the hiring committee are scientifically diverse, so article titles alone may not convey the importance of a publication to reviewers. Applicants can identify the works they are particularly proud of and/or form the foundation of their future research. Providing 1-2 sentences or bullet points that put the work in the context of the field helps the committee appreciate the significance of the discoveries. Outlining the applicant’s specific role in studies with many authors is also useful for understanding the applicant’s particular expertise and experience in collaborative research.
- Pre-prints should be included where relevant.
- Applicants can use any format for this highlighting including a separate CV section or adding text under the chosen studies.
- Do not include journal impact factors in the list of publications; article-level metrics are allowed.
- Applicants can review current BCBP graduate courses for those they would like to contribute to or any perceived gaps they would like to fill. Include any previous experience with classroom teaching or one-on-one research mentoring of junior scientists.
- Any trainings in teaching, mentoring, or leadership development should be included.
- All BCBP faculty contribute to our mission “to perform transformative biochemical and biophysical research in an inclusive and stimulating training environment” through activities that support the growth and improvement of the research community. Applicants can describe how they envision their contributions to that aspect of the mission and any previous experiences in research community support, including science outreach, recruiting, and professional service to the field.
- The hiring committee will solicit references shortly after the first phase of review. Applicants are encouraged to communicate in advance with reference letter writers about the importance of responding promptly to a committee request for a letter. The letter need not be tailored to UNC or BCBP but should provide specifics about the applicant’s strengths and qualifications for independent faculty responsibilities and need not reiterate information from the CV or other application components.
- Although we are focusing on potential new assistant professors, applicants who currently hold academic positions of any rank will also be considered. The committee will review the accomplishments of these senior applicants, their potential to integrate into and enhance the current research community, and their motivation to join BCBP. Applicants with current independent appointments may be evaluated separately from those just completing training.
- We expect a rolling selection of applicants for videochat interviews in the late fall followed by invitations for campus interview visits just after the winter break.
- Campus visits will include a formal seminar to the department and other interested UNC scientists, individual meetings and dinners with BCBP faculty/leaders, meeting with students and postdocs, and an informal “chalk talk” about future research.
- We recognize that each individual has unique needs to succeed, and candidates may have questions about accommodations for special abilities, family care needs, resources for parents, community organizations, etc. To be connected to someone who can provide specific information privately, email Steven Torchio (email@example.com).
Jill Dowen, PhD
Guochun Jiang, PhD
Karin Leiderman, PhD
Pengda Liu, PhD
Bill Marzluff, PhD
Stu Parnham, PhD
Dale Ramsden, PhD
Brian Strahl, PhD
Qi Zhang, PhD
Martha Johnson, PhD
Rebecca Berlow, PhD
Chrystal Starbird, PhD
Jean Cook, PhD
Department Chair and Consultant to the Committee