Join the RNAlab

We’re Hiring!

The RNAlab is a highly collaborative, fast-paced research team. We’re looking for passionate, self-motivated scientists with the ambition to tackle the most important problems in modern biology. Individuals from all backgrounds and experience-levels are encouraged to apply.

Summer & Thesis Students

Whether you’re a squishy biologist interested in learning to probe nature through very large computing; or a CS student interested in probing very large computers into some squishy nature (or anything in-between), we would love to join you on your journey.

Shoot me an email with the subject RNAlab App - Student, please provide your CV, half a page on what your aspirations are and why you think RNAlab will help you get there. If you’re particularily ambitious, write a one page research proposal of what you want to do for your research/thesis and we can use that as a starting point.

Funded Applications (apply here)

Graduate Students

The RNAlab is based out of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto. To pursue your graduate research here will require you be accepted into MoGen (unless you make a case for another department). Once admitted, you have 3 lab-rotations to learn from different members of the department. I encourage rotation students to try out the lab! For admission requirements see:

If you intend to apply or would like to discuss potential graduate work, shoot me an email with the subject RNAlab App - {MSc/PhD}, please provide your CV, a page on what your aspirations are and why you think RNAlab will help you get there and write a one page research proposal of what you want to do for your research/thesis and we can use that as a starting point.

Post-docs / Engineers / Developers

We’re looking to immediatly hire a talented Computational Virologist or Full-Stack Bioinformatician(/Developer). See job advertisements for how to apply.

Do you have an exceptional idea/talent which you think will be indispensible to the lab? Contact artem [at]

RNAlab Fellow

Do you have an independent project/idea which you believe in? Independent-lead projects are in our RNA, and we’re here to pay it forward. Take full ownership of your project and realize it as an RNAlab Fellow. The onus will be on you to bootstrap much of the resources/logistics, we can provide institutional support, and the locale for you to kick-start your own research program. Take full advantage of a world-class computational biology team to get your start.

If you’re interested, shoot me an email with the subject RNAlab App - Fellow, with your plan and we can set up a discussion.

Merit Application

We recieve a lot of applications, and it’s difficult to distinguish generic applications from specific intentional ones. Also, with applications all over the world it’s difficult to interpret the relative merit of each. To create an avenue for high-merit candidates with non-standard qualifications, or if your qualifications don’t capture your talent, we have Merit Problems. These are non-trivial research problems which will require background research, thought, and some personal experimentation. Study them carefully and submit your ~1-2 page solution along with your application. Suffix the email subject with - RNAmerit. I can at least promise I will provide a detailed response to such applications.

How to successfully contact a PI

A PI gets 10-20 requests for a position in their lab per week, your goal is to create a compelling application package to distinguish yourself as an exceptional applicant, and make yourself impossible to ignore. As a rule, if you haven’t put in time and specific thought to creating an application specific for a given lab, it’s unlikely you will get any response, the volume of low-input energy applicants is too high to resolve yourself.

Rule 1: Choose your applications carefully.

Research the position you are applying for carefully. What is the lab’s research focus, and how does this align with your interests?

Read 2-3 recent papers from the lab and parse their message. Is the research compelling to you? Are you are going to be passionate about doing something similar, or does it spark your curiousity to learn more about that system? Even if you don’t fully understand the paper, if you can ask an honest question about the research this will go a long way in communicating to the PI that you have done done your homework. Warning: if you rush this step and ask a question which is obviously explained elsewhere in the paper, this will backfire, as it shows a lack of reading the paper.

If you think this is too onerous, it is and that’s the point. A key thing you are communicating is a willingness to invest time and effort in this application, which by extension means you will have to write far fewer applications, but of relatively higher probability or getting a response. Quality > Quantity. Low quality and non-specific applications are discarded, and it’s easy to tell if this is the case.

Given a well thought through application, even if you’re not a right fit you’re more likely to get a response which is the idicator you are writing strong applications, this is good. If the PI is not hiring, or not hiring someone with your skills, a good followup question will be, “Do you know anyone hiring right now that matches my set of skills more closely?” This information can be invaluable to focus future efforts.

Rule 2: Communicate your strengths with data.

Consider the motivations of the person you are writing to (perhaps it’s me). What is the strategic objective of this person, and how is hiring you going to work together to acheive mutual success. This is incredibly varied, and often the key trait which is sought after is willingness to learn, and the ability to master a high-end profiency.

What special set of skills do you possess which will be an asset for the research lab? Perhaps you’re very gifted in 3D printing, or you started and crashed a tech Start-up. These are great indictators that you’re technically minded and good with your hands, or that that you are a person who can take initiative and risk to manage a project. I emphasize that it’s not sufficient to list a bunch of things you’re interested in doing as a hobby, focus on the few things which you’re really good at doing, and show evidence. If you were the top rower in Ontario, link to the announcement of your gold.

If you have previous lab experience or publications, emphasize these with the specifics of what you did. As above, show the evidence and tell the story. If you developed an RNA extraction protocol, show the RIN prior and after your protocol and state how the role of your exact contributions to the publication or work. Scientists are data driven, and you should think of your application as arming the PI with the data to want to hire you.

From my perspective, I would rather work with someone who has reached Grandmasters League in Starcraft 2, or competed in the Olympics than someone who has straight As. Those are really difficult and highly competative achievements, and the type of person who can grind out a Grandmaster, can focus that on research and become a great scientist. Your cover letter is your chance tto tell the story of what you’re great at.

Provide your Curriclum Vitae, Transcripts, and supporting documentation upfront with your cover letter. If I have to ask for it, I’m likely to not.

Rule 3: Think outside of the box.

Your objective is to stand-out and be considered, not to be hired. The initial Cover Letter is about standing out and beginning a narrative of collaboration, exploration, and learning. In the follow-up interview we can have a conversation about what that will look like in practice, and if there’s a deeper alignment between our research goals, at that point you also can get more detailed information about where you may be a better fit, if it’s not here.

Being generic is a disservice to yourself, you are shuffling yourself into the same pile as everyone else, you want to be at the top of that list.

Creativity might not be appropriate for every job application (protip: if it’s a human deciding, you want to be creative), but I’m giving you explicit go-ahead here, and I would encourage you to take a risk. If you do this, ask specifically if it worked or not in the email and I can provide feedback. (See, it got a conversation started).

Rule 4: Have fun.

It comes across in writing when an applicant is genuine, enthusiastic, and loves the science. This is always a good thing.

See also: