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Junior Bioprocessing Pilot Plant Specialist

Bioprocessing Pilot Plant Junior Specialist – Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory (IBRL), Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering

College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign



The University of Illinois is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action employer that recruits and hires qualified candidates without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, national origin, disability or veteran status. For more information, visit




Everything we do is designed to improve the quality of life of the people of the state of Illinois, across the nation, and around the world. We discover, develop, translate, and disseminate knowledge to address societal concerns and train the next generation of experts and leaders in a way that empowers them to expand the boundaries of science to higher levels of understanding and influence.


Be a part of our story. The Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory (IBRL) is leading the way in food and bioprocessing research, teaching, and scale-up activities. Our facilities include over 50,000 sq. ft. of recently constructed and modernized pilot plant, laboratory, and collaborative space filled with over $15M in pilot-scale processing equipment. Our clients range from start-up businesses to Fortune 500 companies in addition to our work supporting major federal research grants, traditional classes, and continuing education opportunities for industry.


The primary responsibility of the Bioprocessing Pilot Plant Junior Specialist is to manage and perform research, education, and technical work in the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory (IBRL) Pilot Processing Plant. Two full time positions are available.


We are continually adding new capabilities to our program and are excited to build upon our excellent staff through a strategic hire with the following responsibilities:

  • Organize and perform the day-to-day research, operations, and safety oversight of the IBRL pilot plant and laboratory.  Prepare for research trials by students, faculty, and outside researchers.
  • Serve within a team of research specialists with responsibilities for operating and maintaining all food and bioprocessing research equipment in facility with primary responsibilities in the pilot plant. Ensure equipment is available and ready for use.
  • Provide expertise to faculty, students, and outside users performing research to ensure safe and successful use of facility equipment, including coordinating with outside contractors as necessary.
  • Assist with certain business functions including but not limited to: consumable supplies ordering, shipping, and inventory tracking and property accounting.
  • Implement technical training in the areas of equipment operation, safety, and research methodology/data analysis as it pertains to IBRL pilot plant scale-up and testing.
  • Assist with research equipment and light facility repairs in the IBRL pilot plant and laboratory.  Make recommendations for facility and equipment repairs, improvements, and upgrades.
  • Maintain IBRL pilot plant to GMP standards.  Assist in creation of and enforce written operating and safety procedures for IBRL.  Participate in any inspections or audits as required.
  • Coordinate with other IBRL technical specialists on activities in the facility.  Maintain general knowledge of procedures and equipment to serve as backup to other members on team.
  • Pursue ongoing professional development.  Stay abreast of developing processing technologies, industry product trends, and safety programs.
  • Represent IBRL at conferences, meetings, and other related activities as requested.
  • Serve as backup 24/7 emergency contact for Public Safety and Facilities & Services.
  • Other duties as assigned.



Position Requirements and Qualifications




  • Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, Biology, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Technical Systems Management, Food Science, or closely related field




  • 1+ years of work experience operating food or bioprocessing equipment
  • Experience maintaining, troubleshooting, and repairing processing equipment
  • Knowledge of/experience with research principles, research methodology, and analyzing/interpreting research data
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills


  • 2+ years of experience working in a food or bioprocessing pilot-scale or production facility
  • 1+ years of experience operating industrial fermentation or extrusion equipment
  • Experience in supervising and training others in an educational environment


Environmental Demands (ex. Lifting heavy items, standing for long periods of time, etc):

Ability to lift 50lbs

Ability to work in hot, cold, or wet environments or with equipment that is heated

Ability to stand, climb, or interact with equipment at various heights




The successful candidate will join an energetic and growing team in the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory (IBRL), a new facility on the University of Illinois campus designed to scale bioprocessing technologies and help bridge the gap between academic research and industrial commercialization. This program and pilot plant facilities are uniquely designed to work closely with industry and faculty on research and scale-up activities above the typical benchtop work done on campus. Our current team has a variety of backgrounds including academia, federal research labs, and private industry with a wide range of expertise in pilot and production scale processing, business operations, and safety.


We are currently adding extrusion and additional industrial fermentation equipment to our long list of capabilities. There is growing interest in plant-based proteins and these capabilities are critical to this market. Our newly installed $3.5M pilot-scale twin-screw extrusion system was installed with assistance from our industrial partners. This line will be capable of producing snacks, cereals, and meat analogue products. We also have expanded our industrial fermentation capabilities to include a new 500L and 1500L fermenter complete with downstream separation operations. We are excited to be grow our capabilities in these areas through a strategic hire.


The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus has a student enrollment of over 40,000, and nearly 2,000 faculty members. The Department of Agricultural & Biological Engineering is the department home of the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory, but it also works very closely with the Department of Food Science & Human Nutrition. We collaborate closely with Departments in the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences, College of Engineering, and College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. Our associated programs are widely recognized for their commitment to excellence in undergraduate and graduate programs, teaching, research, outreach, and international programs.


Urbana-Champaign is located approximately 120 miles South of Chicago in a vibrant and diverse community of 110,000 and is easy driving distance from St. Louis and Indianapolis. Our community offers the residential advantages of a medium-sized university, excellent cultural opportunities, and a high quality of life.




This is a 100% full time, benefits eligible professional position. The proposed starting date is as soon as possible after the closing date. Applicants may be interviewed before the closing date, however, no hiring decision will be made until after that date. Salary is commensurate with experience and qualifications.



To apply, create your candidate profile at and upload your cover letter, resume, and names/contact information for three references by November 14, 2021. Full consideration will be given to complete applications received by the closing date. For further information regarding application procedures, contact Samantha Hurt at or 217-300-8457.



University of Illinois faculty, staff and students are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. If you are not able to receive the vaccine for medical or religious reasons, you may seek approval for an exemption in accordance with applicable University processes.


The University of Illinois conducts criminal background checks on all job candidates upon acceptance of a contingent offer. Convictions are not a bar to employment. As a qualifying federal contractor, the University of Illinois System uses E-Verify to verify employment eligibility. The University of Illinois System requires candidates selected for hire to disclose any documented finding of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment and to authorize inquiries to current and former employers regarding findings of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment. For more information, visit Policy on Consideration of Sexual Misconduct in Prior Employment.