Job Details

Lab Technician, Wine Chemistry Featured

  2021-11-12     Cal Poly Corporation     1 Grand Avenue, Building 15  

The Casassa Research Group at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in California is seeking a motivated lab technician to assist researchers, graduate, and undergraduate students to conduct research in wine chemistry and wine sensory analysis related projects. The nature of this assistance consists primarily in carrying on basic and advanced grape and wines chemical analysis, as well as assisting in maintaining analytical supplies for both chemical and sensory analysis.  The lab technician is expected to perform his/her duties in the Justin and J. Lohr  Center for Wine and Viticulture and the E. & J. Gallo Winery & Family Building and will report directly to Dr. Federico Casassa.

Qualified candidates should be in possession of a BS degree in analytical chemistry, biochemistry or similar and interested in the areas of wine, winemaking, wine analysis and sensory science. Qualified candidates should be proficient in English to perform the training of sensory descriptive panels and to be able to effectively interact with panelists.

This is a full-time appointment with the possibility of renewal based upon satisfactory job performance, and continuing availability of funds is available in the Wine and Viticulture department within the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California.

Salary Range: $25.91 - $32.37 per hour


Duties and Responsibilities

  • Conduct basic and advanced wine and grape chemical analysis, including, but not limited to: Brix, pH, titratable acidity, volatile acidity, free and total SO2, enzymatic analysis, spectrophotometric analysis (including phenolic compounds and color, such as CIELab), HPLC analysis, operation of centrifuges, rota-vapors, vacuum pumps,  fume hoods, etc.
  • Assist students and faculty on projects related to sensory science
  • Report results to students and faculty and direct supervisor
  • Work with collaborators from other laboratories and industry by consulting on wine analysis and related topics, and reporting on the results
  • Train undergraduate and graduate students on laboratory techniques and instruments
  • Help with the administrative tasks in the laboratory: order supplies, maintain SOPs,
  • Collaborate with various research projects, including practical viticultural and winemaking tasks
  • Generate ideas for research projects

Supervisory Responsibilities

•      Directly supervise assigned employees. Carry out supervisory responsibilities in accordance with Corporation’s policies and applicable laws and regulations

•      Supervise the daily activities of the department, including but not limited to, effective delegation of assignments, training and resources necessary to meet performance standards and assist employees in improving performance relevant to job requirements

•      Develop and implement an effective performance and department goals and objectives, provide performance evaluations, and implement appropriate counseling

•      Direct and monitor employees to ensure that they remain in compliance with policies and procedures

•      Subordinates may include: intermittent employees for field work, graduate student employees and undergraduate student employees

Position Requirements

•      BS in food science, chemistry/biochemistry and/or related fields.

•      Working knowledge in extraction methods for the isolation of organic molecules

•      Knowledge of solid phase extraction techniques. 

•      Working knowledge of quantitative analysis and analytical high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), diode array detection (DAD), fluorescence detection (FLD), and triple quadrupole mass spectrometry.

•      Ability to quickly learn and effectively use analytical software.

•      Ability to interpret, communicate and apply Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and other safety reference material information.

•      Ability to respond quickly and appropriately to an emergency situation due to the presence of hazardous materials.

•      Ability to maintain a laboratory notebook containing all details of sample handling and analytical observations.

•      Ability to analyze operational, procedural, and technical problems and develop practical, thorough, and creative solutions; ability to evaluate, recommend, and implement proposed solutions using reasoning and judgment.

•      Ability to evaluate departmental lab safety practices; implement new safety procedures as needed.  Instruct faculty and students on proper safety while working in labs.

•      Ability to use and develop Standard Operating Procedures.

•      Knowledge of, or the ability to learn, biological and hazardous waste handling and disposal.

•      Demonstrated ability to maintain analytical instrumentation.

•      Demonstrated ability to maintain a high degree of confidentiality.

•      Strong data analysis abilities are desired.  Experience working with large data sets

•      Ability to work independently in the sensory and chemistry labs, and in the winery, when required.

•      Desire to work with grapes and wines, including grape sampling, harvest, winemaking work

•      Ability to assist the researcher in developing relevant field/lab projects pertinent to the research questions.

•      Excellent written and oral presentation skills.

•      Demonstrated ability to work in teams and independently.

•      Possession of a valid California Driver’s License (or similar) and satisfactory driving record

•      Desire to mentor undergraduate and graduate students

•      Three years’ experience providing instructional support services in a related discipline, acting as a student assistant, or in producing materials or supplies related to the discipline.  (two years of college with 16 semester units in courses in the related specialty area discipline may be substituted for one year of required experience OR four years of college with 16 semester units in courses in the related specialty area discipline may be substituted for two years of required experience.)

•      A background check is required for all regular benefited positions

•      The person holding this position is considered a ‘mandated reporter’ under the California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act and is required to comply with the requirements set forth in CSU Executive Order 1083 as a condition of employment

Preferred Qualifications

•      Five years’ experience in an analytical lab or similar setting.

•      A Master’s degree and/or degree in Analytical Chemistry.

•      Working knowledge on a variety of separation methodologies including gas chromatography (GC) and detection methods including time-of-flight-mass spectrometry. Experience working with other types of analytical equipment.

•      A working knowledge of statistical programs.

•      Experience in instrument calibration.

•      Certain familiarity with winemaking, wine styles, wine chemistry and biochemistry and wine sensory characteristics is desired. 

•      Demonstrated ability to work in teams and independently.

•      Strong interpersonal skills

•      Experience working with people of different backgrounds, philosophies, and objectives

Physical Requirements

  • Hearing and speaking to exchange information with sensory panelists, undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Dexterity of hands, fingers, and wrist to operate a computer keyboard, and advance analytical equipment, as well as to manipulate wine samples.
  • Seeing to read a variety of materials
  • Sitting or standing for extended periods of time

Subject to continued grant/center funding. Cal Poly Corporation provides excellent benefits including medical, dental, vision, life insurance, retirement, paid sick leave/vacation and holidays. This position is benefit eligible. 
Employment is contingent upon the successful completion of a criminal background check, educational and employment verification, and reference check, as required. 

The California State University system (CSU) requires that students, faculty, and any employees of organizations  who access campus, or any CSU facilities, to be either fully vaccinated or qualify for a medical or religious exemption.  Please note if you are chosen for a position with the Cal Poly Corporation you will be asked to fill out a Vaccine Attestation once you are hired.  This attestation will ask if you are vaccinated or asking for a medical or religious exemption.  If not vaccinated and asking for an exemption you will be required to be tested for COVID-19 one (1) time per week at a testing site on campus.  
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