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Assistant Research Professor

Job Description


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The PlantVillage team in the College of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Entomology is hiring an Assistant Research Professor. The Assistant Research Professor will be responsible for research in crop threats and a management role in the PlantVillage research and development group. This will be a 48 week appointment, 100% research.

The successful candidate will be responsible for the following:

  • Conduct research to understand crop threats on the global stage in collaboration with research institutes based in developing countries. These research activities identify emerging pests and diseases and develop methods for controlling the spread of the emerging and current threats.

  • Use molecular approaches, Artificial Intelligence, and crowdsourcing data for understanding the emergence and the spread of pests. This approach will involve working with a multidisciplinary team based at Penn State for the development of global diseases and weather forecasting models.

  • Adapt the different research findings for local application.

  • Assume the position of Associate Director of the USAID Current and Emerging Threats to Crops Innovation Lab and plan and execute the Current and Emerging Threats to Crops Innovation Lab activities and run the lab in the absence of the Director.

  • Establish and develop a partnership with other Land grant institutions; the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other bilateral agencies; The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Bank and other Intergovernmental Organizations; Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), and other relevant public institutions and private companies and industries in the United States and globally.

  • Provide strategic direction, design, and implement research projects with the Director and the Management Entity of the Innovation Lab.

  • Organize data and research results of the innovation Lab (ME) and their partners to improve the management of crop threats and identify emerging ones. Assist Feed The Future (FTF) countries' researchers in developing and adapting molecular-based approaches to identify crop pests and diseases.

  • Conduct research on new and emerging threats to crops which includes both biotic and abiotic stressors.

  • Prepare budgets, reports, and Request for Applications (RFAs) for competitive awards that the IL will advertise. During the RFA process, the Associate Director will work with potential awardees to encourage applications, improve applications and build the capacity in FTF countries and US MSI (Minority Serving Institutions) to develop competitive proposals. Engage with Feed The Future country partners to help them throughout the RFA process. The ideal candidate must have a strong and active research approach for this activity.

  • Be an active participant with the Director and ME staff in all research for the development projects conducted under the USAID Innovation Lab and provide intellectual assistance in designing, executing, and analyzing projects results as needed.

  •  Participate in building capacities for FTF countries and evaluate the research outputs and reports by sub-awardees. The sub-awardees are the prominent domain experts, but the ME will work cohesively to ensure the research is carried out to maximize impact and scaling.

  • Engage with the broader community of Innovation Labs, CGIAR, FAO, and NAROs (National Agricultural Research Organization) on the upcoming threats to crops and the severity of current threats under climate change. This involves horizon scanning for emerging threats using tools developed by the PSU PlantVillage research group.

  • Engage with Regional organizations such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), and the East African Community (EAC) to better assess countries' needs in managing existing crop threats and evaluating new threats to crops.

Education and Experience:

Must have a PhD in diseases of plants and  postdoctoral experience which includes research on small holder farmer systems in Sub Saharan Africa. The ideal candidate must have experience with some or all of the following areas: virology, soil borne diseases including nematology, controlled study design on farms to test IPM packages, bioinformatics and point of care diagnostics (computer vision and genetic testing).

The successful candidate must have completed all degree requirements by the appointment date. This is a limited term position for one year from date of hire with good possibility of renewal based on funding availability and performance. Applicants should provide evidence, either woven through their application materials or as a separate diversity statement, of a commitment to fostering diversity, equity, and engagement which creates an inclusive environment in their outreach and research efforts.

The Pennsylvania State University is committed to and accountable for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in all of its forms. We embrace individual uniqueness, foster a culture of inclusive excellence that supports both broad and specific diversity initiatives, leverage the educational and institutional benefits of diversity, and engage all individuals to help them thrive. We value inclusive excellence as a core strength and an essential element of our public service mission


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Employment with the University will require successful completion of background check(s) in accordance with University policies. 


Penn State is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer, and is committed to providing employment opportunities to all qualified applications without regards to race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identify, national origin, disability or protected veteran status. If you are unable to use our online application process due to an impairment or disability, please contact 814-865-1473.

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University Park, PA

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