Volunteer Position – Scientist, Biology

  • 3-4 hours per week for research and meetings as part of a team
  • Remote / online
  • College-level education and hands-on experience in biology, biochemistry, bioengineering, or related fields.
  • Curious and eager to learn about anatomy and physiology of the integument

The Freedom of Form Foundation is a nonprofit working to support and advocate for scientific research that will enable complete freedom of one’s physical form – biotech for self-expression.

To this end, we are seeking additional help in our Integument Review project. We are interested in answering two questions: 1) how does fur, feather, and scale development work in other animals, and 2) how do we recreate each of those in humans? Our work can be thought of as a process of target identification of what we need to change in human genetics and physiology to allow these structures to grow and develop.

Our work involves subjects in cell signalling, embryonic development, evolutionary biology, integument type comparison, and more generally, identifying cellular and genetic targets or “knobs to turn” for transformations. You’ll be joining an exceptionally capable team of scientists, and you’ll be complementing the team’s strong basis in cell signalling, embryogenesis, systems biology, and physiology.

The team now needs your help in working with building a deeper understanding of relevant cell biology, signalling, evolutionary and developmental biology, genetics, and more. You will help critically review literature, help coordinate systems analysis, help assemble scientific models and graphical representations that surpass academic standards, and help start to identify hypotheses that can be tested in wet lab experiments in the coming years. All of the above will be essential for bringing us closer to translating the science for use in patients.

We need your help making freedom of form possible.

After settling in, your responsibilities may include:

  • Provided general direction and advice from the team, you’ll be performing:
    • Critical review of the scientific literature, including identifying, summarizing, and integrating existing studies with our overall models
    • Collaborative annotation and collection of relevant data from biological databases
    • Evolutionary genetic analysis, especially low-throughput analysis, such as identifying protein homology between species and making inferences
    • Identification of genes likely to be involved in development and maintenance of non-human integument structures, particularly those not possessed by humans
  • Team members will help you understand the cells and molecular mechanisms involved. Don’t worry, you won’t be in a vacuum!
  • Proposing future experiments to recommend as part of the output of this project
  • Attending meetings, asking questions, and assisting or chiming in when other team members need help or ask for feedback
  • Presenting data and findings, and helping to write reports

Expectations for volunteers in this position:

The essentials:

  • Have a good understanding of the central tenets of biological structure and function, primarily at the level of tissues, cells, and molecules.
  • Have experience reading and understanding studies on cell signalling, cell biology, histology, evolutionary and developmental biology, and/or related fields
  • Be willing to talk with the team in Discord and/or other tools to have meetings and regular discussions.
  • Work with the team primarily active during US/Eastern time daylight or evening hours.

Useful skills you may learn working on the project:

  • Being able to critically evaluate whether a study answers a particular research question and whether its claims are justified and useful
  • Gain experience working in a team and learn from our diverse group of scientists on board
  • Learn more specific analysis techniques in weeks when guided, and gain comfort using them to analyze and summarize important findings

All FFF volunteers and employees are expected to:

  • Demonstrate unerring commitment to teamwork and professionalism.
  • Always keep learning, and likewise be willing to help others learn and improve.
  • Demonstrate tolerance to each other, to stakeholders, and to the broader community.
  • Maintain a collaborative attitude towards resolving conflict and disagreement.
  • Learn about regulations we must abide by, including, our Bylaws, Conflict of Interest Policy, Community Rules, Code of Conduct, regulations pertaining to 501(c)(3) organizations, and all laws. We can help get you up to speed on these, though!

Questions?

If you have any questions or want to discuss more before applying, please send an email to [email protected]. We won’t bite (too hard)!

In particular, if you are interested in this or other volunteering opportunities, and you’re not sure whether or not it would be a fit, please reach out and we’d be happy to explore possibilities with you.

Sounds good? Please apply!

Please send an email to [email protected] and attach your Resume or CV. Be sure to include the position title in the subject line in your email.

And don’t worry, you can skip the formal, corporate-voice cover letter! Just a few sentences about why you’re interested in our organization, and in this position, should be sufficient. Please note that our follow-up process is fairly low-key. We’re much more interested in two-way discussions and exploration, not formal interviews.