Scientist, Strain Improvement & Automation

Scientist, Strain Improvement & Automation 150 150 checkerspot

Title: Scientist, Strain Improvement & Automation

Type: Full-Time

Location: Alameda, CA

Supervisor: Vice President, Molecular Biology & Strain Improvement


Checkerspot is a design-centric, high-performance materials company.  Advances in our understanding of biology, chemistry, and materials science are aligning with advances in computational, experimental and fabrication tools, unleashing capabilities we once only imagined.  By engaging directly with product users and partnering with socially and environmentally responsible corporations, we design and bring to market more sustainable high-performance materials.  We believe in open-minded innovation from concept to consumer, listening to impassioned pioneers every step of the way.


Our company culture can best be understood through experience.  Come get to know us!  We’d like to be known more by what we do than what we say.


We are looking for a scientist experienced in designing, developing, and automating assays useful for phenotypic characterization in microbial or cellular model systems.  The ideal candidate will have experience using automated colony picking and liquid handling systems to accelerate discoveries in biological systems.

Strain Improvement (approximately 60% of time)

  • Assist in the improvement of the fatty acid profiles, TAG distributions, lipid productivity, growth rate or other commercially important performance metrics in genetically engineered and/or classically improved microalgal strains in support of critical milestones both internally and for current and potential partners and customers.
  • Conduct experiments as necessary to understand the phenotypic characteristics of new genetically engineered or classically improved strains, develop Checkerspot’s technology platform, and create new screens to select for desirable traits.

Automation (approximately 40% of time)

  • Maintain Checkerspot’s automated screening assets and consumable supplies to ensure maximum “uptime” and that assay precision, accuracy, and throughput specifications are met.  Regularly report on screening pipeline performance to Checkerspot’s Technology team.
  • As required, develop new scripts/programs and automated screening protocols that support genetic engineering, strain improvement, and strain characterization efforts.


  • Support Checkerspot’s stated Public Benefits to promote the advancement of environmental stewardship, including by developing more sustainable higher performance materials, and by democratizing materials and tools for innovative product development for the betterment of local communities.


  • Minimum of 6+ years of relevant industry experience or a M.S. or Ph.D. degree in Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, Genetics, or related disciplines with 8+ years of relevant hands-on academic research experience.
  • Experience developing new, robust assays to assess strain performance.
  • Experience with high-throughput screens in mammalian cell culture models or in bacteria, fungi, or microalgae.
  • Expertise around the development of highly quantitative assays.
  • High throughput screening or lab automation experience, including script/program writing and recognized troubleshooting ability.
  • Ability to manage large datasets and draw conclusions from them.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills with scientific peers.
  • Experience working in cross-functional teams, managing direct reports, and communicating results to management.
  • Committed to safety in a laboratory environment.
  • Must be legally authorized to work in the United States on a full-time basis.


Checkerspot offers its employees a competitive benefits and compensation package. The base pay range for this role is $100,000-$136,000 and your base will depend on your skills, qualifications, experience, and location. Checkerspot is an Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Employer, and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, genetic information, age, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected basis.