Plant Growth Facilities Manager

Durham University

Plant Growth Facilities Manager (
Job Number:
Department of Biosciences
Grade 7:  £36,333 – £43,155 per annum
Open-Ended/Permanent  Full Time
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date
: 04-Jul-2023, 6:59:00 PM
Disclosure and Barring Service Requirement: Not Applicable. 

The University 

At Durham University we are proud of our people.  A globally outstanding centre of educational excellence, a collegiate community of extraordinary people, a unique and historic setting – Durham is a university like no other. We believe that inspiring our people to do outstanding things at Durham enables Durham people to do outstanding things professionally and personally.  

Across the University we have a huge variety of roles and career opportunities, which together make us a large and successful community, which is a key hub of activity within our region and nationally.  We would be thrilled if you would consider joining our thriving University.  Further information about the University can be found here.
The Role and Department  

The Department of Biosciences seeks a highly motivated individual with extensive experience in managing and maintaining plant growth facilities to provide specialist expertise and support around plant growth.

The position entails overseeing all aspects of the facility’s operations. This includes working closely with faculty, staff, and students to manage day-to-day activities and acting as a liaison between the University, and the Department of Biosciences. The successful candidate will be responsible for managing facility budgets, advising on plant growth projects, assigning space, coordinating facility utilisation, and ensuring safe working practices in compliance with UK legislation. As facility manager, you will develop and implement standard operating procedures and risk assessments for all plant growth areas and a variety of plant species, oversee the maintenance and repair of greenhouses, growth rooms, growth chambers, and associated equipment. Additionally, you will supervise technical staff, participate in teaching and training activities, and oversee the production high-quality plant material for research and teaching. You will also promote the facility, and attend meetings and courses to stay up to date with new developments and techniques.

The Biosciences Department has an established record of research excellence in plant sciences and has invested in new academic staff appointments in the areas of Molecular Plant Sciences (MPS) and relevant areas of Ecology, Evolution and Environment (EEE) over the past six years. The University has provided major investment to upgrade and refurbish plant growth facilities, and the facility manager will manage the final stages of this work to be completed in Summer 2024.

The plant growth facility consists of state-of-the-art glass houses, controlled environment rooms, and phenotyping instrumentation, and supports research projects on model, crop, weed and wild plant species to study cell biology, stress responses, environmental change, and plant-soil interactions. This is an exciting and challenging opportunity for the facility manager to impact a wide range of research projects in the MPS and EEE research groups in the department of biosciences.

The Role Offers:

  • A vibrant research environment within expanding plant and ecology research groups and biosciences department
  • Well-equipped modern facilities
  • Opportunities to contribute to the design and implementation of modernising plant growth facility
  • Opportunities to collaborate with internal and external research groups
  • Additional training (e.g. external courses) when required

Further information about the role and the responsibilities is at the bottom of this job description.  

Working at Durham   
A competitive salary is only one part of the many fantastic benefits you will receive if you join the University: you will also receive access to the following fantastic benefits:   

  • 30 Days annual leave per year in addition to 8 public holidays and 4 customary days per year – a total of 42 days per year.    
  • The University closes between Christmas and New Year.
  • We offer a generous pension scheme, As a new member of staff you will be automatically enrolled  into the University Superannuation Scheme (USS).  
  • No matter how you travel to work, we have you covered.  We have parking across campus, a cycle to work scheme which helps you to buy a bike and discount with local bus and train companies.  
  • There is a genuine commitment to developing our colleagues professionally and personally.  There is a comprehensive range of development courses, apprenticeships and access to qualifications and routes to develop your career in the University.  All staff have dedicated annual time to concentrate on their personal development opportunities.  
  • Lots of support for health and wellbeing including discounted membership for our state of the art sport and gym facilities and access to a 24-7 Employee Assistance Programme.  
  • On site nursery is available and children’s clubs in the summer holidays.  
  • Family friendly policies, including maternity and adoption leave, which are among the most generous in the higher education sector (and likely above and beyond many employers).  
  • The opportunity to take part in staff volunteering activities to make a difference in the local community  
  • Discounts are available via our benefits portal including; money off at supermarkets, high street retailers, IT products such as Apple, the cinema and days out at various attractions.  
  • A salary sacrifice scheme is also available to help you take advantage of tax savings on benefits.  
  • If you are moving to Durham, we can help with removal costs and we have a dedicated team who can help you with the practicalities such as house hunting and schools.  If you need a visa, we cover most visa costs and offer an interest free loan scheme to pay for dependant visas.  

Durham University is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion

Our collective aim is to create an open and inclusive environment where everyone can reach their full potential and we believe our staff should reflect the diversity of the global community in which we work.  As a University equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) are a key part of the University’s Strategy and a central part of everything we do.  We also live by our values and our Staff Code of Conduct.  At Durham we actively work towards providing an environment where our staff and students can study, work and live in a community which is supportive and inclusive. It’s important to us that all of our colleagues are aligned to both our values and commitment to EDI.  

We welcome and encourage applications from members of groups who are under-represented in our work force including people with disabilities, women and black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.  If you have taken time out of your career, and you feel it relevant, let us know about it in your application.  If you are a candidate with a disability, we are committed to ensuring fair treatment throughout the recruitment process. We will make adjustments to support the interview process wherever it is reasonable to do so and, where successful, reasonable adjustments will be made to support people within their role.   

What you need to demonstrate when you apply/Person Specification  
When you apply it is important that you let us know what skills/experience you have from a similar role and/or what skills/experience you have which would make you right for this role.  Further information about the role and responsibilities is at the end of this job description.  Where a criteria has an asterisk* next to it, it may be given additional weighting when your application is considered.    
Your application should cover the following criteria:

Essential Criteria


1.     Completion of a bachelor’s degree program in horticulture, plant science, botany, or a related field.

2.     Minimum of three years of relevant work experience within the greenhouse/growth facilities maintenance and management sector.

3.     Experience in maintaining containment levels 1 and 2 growth facilities for cultivation of GMOs.

4.     Experience with operating controlled environment growth chambers and glass house control units.

5.     Networks to share and discuss good practice and develop strong and productive working relationships.

6.     Experience of providing specialist advice and guidance to a range of customers and colleagues, including more senior colleagues.

7.     Experience of implementing policies and procedures. 


8.     A deep understanding of procedures associated with the production and maintenance of GMOs, ensuring compliancy with UK regulations.

9.     Adaptable and flexible approach to managing uncertain and unpredictable events.

10.   Ability to teach and induct new users of the growth facility.

11.   Ability to work with and provide plant growth expertise to different users.

12.   Excellent written and verbal communication skills with ability to communicate across a wider audience.

13.   Strong digital competence across a range of digital devices and apps including [digital communication tools, Microsoft 365 applications, business systems.

14.   Knowledge and experience of ensuring compliance with regulatory and organisational policy and guidelines, including health and safety.

Desirable Criteria  

15.   A postgraduate degree in a plant science, botany, or related discipline.

16.   Preferably hands on experience growing a wide range of plant species (models and crops). 

17.   Experience with Integrated Pest Management approaches.

18.   The ability to identify plant pests and diseases and apply the correct control measures in accordance with statutory and local regulations, or the ability to learn.

How to Apply

To progress to the assessment stage, candidates must evidence each of the essential criteria required for the role in the person specification above. It will be at the discretion of the recruiting panel as to whether they will also consider any desirable criteria, but we would urge candidates to provide evidence for all criteria.  Please don’t forget to check if there is any weighted criteria (see above).  
While some criteria will be considered at the shortlisting stage, other criteria may be considered later in the assessment process, such as questions at interview.     
Submitting your application  

We prefer to receive applications online.  We will update you about your application at various points throughout the selection process, via automated emails from our e-recruitment system. Please check your spam/junk folder periodically to make sure you have not missed any of our updates.  
What you need to submit 
•    A CV: and     
•    A supporting statement or covering letter which outlines how you meet all of the criteria within the Person Specification.      
Contact details    

For a chat about the role or any further information please contact Dr Ulrike Bechtold [email protected].

Typical Role Requirements     
Service Delivery/Development

  • Manage the operation of Durham University Department of Biosciences plant growth facilities, including greenhouses, growth chambers, and controlled environment rooms, coordinating their usage and maintenance.
  • Oversee general upkeep of the facilities, including preparation and implementation of health and safety protocols, ensuring high levels of housekeeping standards in growth areas, safe disposal of biological materials, appropriate containment of plants and pathogens, and monitoring plants for the presence of pests and diseases and responding appropriately.
  • Show a commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion and the University’s values.
  • Provide the best possible service by continually reviewing what is required from [staff, students and others who you work with] and contribute to ideas and service improvements.
  • Work with your team to look for ways to improve [processes, techniques and outputs/results] across all areas of your work.
  • Oversee specialist risk assessments and safety procedures and resolve incidents that require specialist expertise.

Planning and Organisation

  • Provide input to the design and development of plant growth facilities, growth and maintenance practice and deliverables for all relevant internal and external projects.
  • Manage the delivery of operational activities carried out by the [specified services] which you are responsible for.
  • Oversee a service which provides practical and test teaching and research work activities, projects, and self-directed sessions.
  • Provide specialist advice to resolve technical problems, plan projects and continually develop and improve the service.
  • Support the analysis of feedback from [staff, students and other key stakeholders] so that [the service] is being adapted to meet customer expectations and to plan future requirements.
  • Manage budgets and expenditure including buying (and returning) goods and services.

Team Development

  • Ensure that your team can deliver the required services by devolving and delegating responsibilities to appropriate team members.
  • Carry out regular performance reviews to provide feedback on team and individual objectives and expectations and identify any development needs.
  • Ensure that your team continues to develop by coaching and mentoring team members and delivering any training needs.
  • Support the welfare and wellbeing of your team referring more complex issues to specialist services.

Teaching and Learning Support

  • Support facility users by teaching plant care skills to staff and student plant biologists and support effective experimentation.
  • Design, build and maintain [complex, specialist teaching and research apparatus, equipment, instruments, systems and appliances].
  • Provide advice on digital tools and infrastructure to ensure an appropriate pedagogical approach to developing world class teaching.
  • Apply maintenance schedules to ensure the safe and efficient use of technology, facilities and services to teaching, research and learning activities.
  • Manage the day-to-day delivery of a high-quality technical and/or experimental facility/platform and service to ensure teaching, research and knowledge exchange outputs.
  • Record, monitor, analyse and collate information as part of teaching and research activities.
  • Be responsible for the design, set-up, maintenance and integrity of teaching, research and learning facilities, technology and resources within a specialist area.
  • Support the delivery of undergraduate and post graduate teaching and learning activities, and income generation, where appropriate.
  • Contribute to the planning, design and delivery of research outputs and contribute to the preparation of innovative teaching/research proposals.


  • Use your operational expertise to participate in business meetings, working groups and sub-committees.
  • Collaborate with internal and external academics, industry and technical specialists to support the delivery of teaching and research projects.
  • Liaise with internal and external agencies, local authorities, industries and visitors where appropriate.
  • Create positive working relationships, including internal and external networks, using your networks to increase your knowledge and skills, swap information with peers.
  • Contribute to promotional events and conferences.

•    Any other reasonable duties.

Please note that in submitting your application Durham University will be processing your data. We would ask you to consider the relevant University Privacy Statement Privacy Notices – Durham University which provides information on the collation, storing and use of data.     

When appointing to this role the University must ensure that it meets any applicable immigration requirements, including salary thresholds which are applicable to some visas.


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