Percent Time: 100% (40 hours/week) Temporary: this position is expected to be funded for up to three years
Work Location: St. Paul, MN campus
Position Summary: The successful candidate will support a program aimed at understanding the molecular mechanisms of virulence/avirulence in cereal rust fungi (Puccinia species) through genomics and effector biology research and identifying and characterizing disease resistance genes in both cultivated and wild cereal species. Research will involve genomics-based inter-species comparisons of the wheat stem rust (Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici) (Pgt), oat crown rust (P. coronata f. sp. avenae), and barley leaf rust (Puccinia hordei) pathogens and discovery of avirulence effectors that may enhance global rust surveillance capacity and contribute to developing durable rust resistance in small grain cereal crops. This is an international research project that includes partners from the National Institute of Agricultural Botany in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Australia.
Job Duties: (30%) Increasing, purifying, and manipulating rust pathogen isolates for subsequent experiments. This may include mutagenesis experiments to knock out effector genes in the pathogen.
(15%) Extraction of DNA from rust pathogen isolates. This involves learning various DNA extraction techniques for specific down-stream analyses and also monitoring quality control.
(15%) Phenotyping rust pathogen isolates for their virulence/avirulence phenotypes on seedling plants in the greenhouse and adult plants in the field. This involves the collection of phenotype data by visual and/or digital means plus the analysis and interpretation of these data. Data analysis will involve using the appropriate statistical software programs (e.g. R, SAS, etc.). Interpretation of data are required for planning the next phase of research.
(10%) Organization and maintenance of experimental pathogen stocks, plant germplasm, laboratory supplies, and equipment. This includes documenting and curating incoming pathogen and plant genotypes; verifying the purity of said genotypes; inputting data about each genotype in an easily accessible and current database; and testing the viability of genotypes and increasing them as needed. Additional duties include ensuring that critical laboratory supplies are ordered and available for experiments as needed and keeping laboratory and field equipment in good working order.
(10%) Design and execution of laboratory, greenhouse, and field experiments. This includes making decisions on the type of experimental designs to be used in research, use of various management strategies to maintain experiments in good order; selection and increase of and inoculation with pathogens for disease resistance assays of germplasm.
(10%) Report writing, including creation of accompanying tables and graphics. This includes the writing of comprehensive experimental reports for: i) project archives, ii) collaborators, iii) publication in refereed journals, iv) oral/poster presentations at meetings, and v) use in grant proposals. Important components of these experimental reports are publication-quality figures, tables and images. For these duties, proficiency in basic computer programs (i.e. word-processing, spreadsheet, presentation and statistical analysis software in either Macintosh or PC computer platforms) is required.
(10%) Laboratory management. Organization of project data; purchase and organization of research supplies and materials; assisting in project budget allocations; ensuring personnel have fulfilled laboratory/field safety requirements; and hiring undergraduate personnel (involves posting laboratory assistant positions; hiring the best candidates from the pool of candidates; scheduling work duties; and monitoring work quality and hours).
Required Qualifications: The minimum qualifications are: i) B.A./B.S. degree in biological sciences, agronomy, genetics, botany, microbiology or plant pathology and at least one year of work experience (or an equivalent combination of education and work experience to equal five years) in the pertinent research areas; ii) experience in the culture and manipulation of microbes infecting plants, especially the rust fungi; iii) experience in the establishment and maintenance of greenhouse and field-based experiments on plants; iv) proficiency in DNA extraction methods from microbes and plants; and v) basic computer skills with various software packages (i.e. word-processing, spreadsheet, presentation and statistical analysis software in either Macintosh or PC computer platforms).
Preferred Qualifications: Preferred qualifications include excellent written/oral communication and organizational skills; experience in experimental documentation (photography of specimens and electronic data recording and manipulation); familiarity of inoculation techniques and disease assessment methods with plants; experience in project management (i.e. overseeing budgets, organization of data; personnel issues, laboratory/field safety requirements, purchase and organization of research supplies and materials); advanced computer software skills (i.e. advanced data analysis and statistical packages); and knowledge of genotyping/sequencing analysis techniques.
The University of Minnesota, founded in the belief that all people are enriched by understanding, is dedicated to the advancement of learning and the search for truth; to the sharing of this knowledge through education for a diverse community; and to the application of this knowledge to benefit the people of the state, the nation, and the world.