A Researcher 3 position is available in the Cereal Disease Resistance and Germplasm Enhancement Project of Professor Brian Steffenson, Lieberman-Okinow Endowed Chair, in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Minnesota. The mission of the Lieberman-Okinow Chair is to improve and enhance small grain cereal crops with genes derived from wild species, foster the conservation of wild cereal genetic resources, disseminate information and germplasm, and educate the next generation of scientists in utilizing genetic diversity for crop improvement. Our research spans the organizational spectrum from the molecular to whole plant and population level. We seek a highly motivated individual with a background in plant biology, a demonstrated record of achievement, and an eagerness to work as part of a project whose primary aim is to identify and characterize disease resistance and other useful genes in both cultivated and wild cereal species and assist in their introgression and functional analysis in advanced breeding lines. Research is conducted in the laboratory, biosafety level containment facility, greenhouse, and field. The successful candidate would be encouraged to advance their knowledge and skills on the job through training programs and formal classwork that could eventually lead to an advanced degree.
Job Duties: (40%) Design, maintenance, and execution of laboratory, greenhouse, and field experiments. This includes making independent decisions on the type of experimental designs to be used in research, use of various management strategies to maintain experiments in good order; increase of and inoculation with pathogens for disease resistance assays of plant germplasm; and hybridization of wheat and barley germplasm for subsequent genetic analyses of progeny for various target traits. Be able to independently trouble-shoot problems that arise and adapt protocols to address these problems.
(20%) Documentation, interpretation, curation and analysis of phenotype and genotype data. This includes assessing plants (both by visual and digital means) for their reaction to different diseases and agro-morphological traits both at the seedling stage in the greenhouse and at the adult stage in the field; capturing digital images of key experimental materials; performing the appropriate statistical analyses of data using various statistical software programs (e.g. R, SAS, etc.); and interpreting the results of experiments for planning the next phase of research. Independently adapt methods based on familiarity of literature and gained experience in the field.
(10%) Organization and maintenance of experimental plant germplasm and pathogen stocks. This includes documenting and verifying the purity of incoming plant germplasm and pathogen stocks from cooperators; inputting data about each accession in an easily accessible database; testing the viability of plant and pathogen stocks and increasing them as needed. Independently develops protocols to streamline the organization and maintenance of experimental plant germplasm and pathogen stocks based on knowledge gained from the literature or collaborations with other researchers.
(10%) Report writing, including creation of accompanying tables and graphics and interpretation of data and results. This includes the writing of 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). Confers with the PI on interpretations of results and ways to improve experimental protocols and efficiencies through knowledge gained through pertinent scientific literature of contact with experts and collaborators.
(15%) Laboratory management. Ensuring that critical laboratory supplies are ordered and available for experiments as needed; keeping laboratory and field equipment in good working order; organization of project data; assisting in project budget allocations; ensuring personnel have fulfilled required laboratory/field safety training; hiring undergraduate personnel to assist in project activities (i.e. posting laboratory assistant positions & hiring the best candidates); scheduling and prioritizing work duties, monitoring work quality, and approving work hours of hired undergraduate personnel. and updating PI on the status and any problems arising in overall project management. Ability to make immediate, critical decisions on issues related to laboratory management when PI is not available.
(5%) Preparation of plants and pathogens for extraction of DNA. Review latest literature and consult with experts for devising improved methodologies for DNA extraction and downstream analyses.
This is a full-time (100% 40 hours/week) civil service position. Salary is commensurate with experience. The successful candidate will be eligible for the Regents scholarship, a University of Minnesota program that allows enrollment in one course per semester to augment the skill set needed for the position and potentially lead to an advanced degree.
Required Qualifications: The minimum qualifications are: i) B.A./B.S. degree in biological sciences, agronomy, genetics, botany, horticulture, microbiology or plant pathology and at least two years of work experience or an equivalent combination of related education and work experience to equal six years in the pertinent research areas; ii) experience in the establishment, maintenance, and successful execution of greenhouse and field-based experiments on plants; iii) proficiency in basic computer skills and software (i.e. word-processing, spreadsheet, presentation and statistical analysis software in either Macintosh or PC computer platforms) and data analyses; and iv) knowledge in the culture and manipulation of microbes associated with plants.
Preferred Qualifications: Preferred qualifications include excellent organizational and written/oral communication skills; supervisory experience of personnel; knowledge in experimental documentation (i.e. photography of specimens and electronic data recording) and data collection/analyses (statistics and analysis programs); experience in project management (i.e. overseeing project budgets, organization of data and biological materials; laboratory/field safety requirements, purchase and organization of research supplies and materials); familiarity of inoculation techniques and disease assessment methods with plants; advanced computer software skills (i.e. advanced data analysis and statistical packages); and knowledge of DNA extraction 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.