• Post-Doctoral Associate (Plant Breeder, Hazelnut Breeding Program... Minnesota
  • University of Minnesota in Minnesota, , United States
  • jobs
  • 1 month ago

jobs description

Job ID: 359837

About the Job...

Post-Doctoral Plant Breeder for the Hazelnut Breeding Program at the University of Minnesota in Collaboration with the Upper Midwest Hazelnut Development Initiative (UMHDI)

The person hired for this position will
1. Help improve the plant evaluation and data management systems for our traditional breeding program, and
2. Expand the program by integrating genomic data, including
a. Validating the genomic prediction models developed for nut traits by our partners at the University of Wisconsin and using them to plan future crosses and screen progeny families.
b. Developing more efficient strategies for phenotyping traits that are difficult to quantify and developing genomic prediction models for these traits. Possible traits include Eastern Filbert Blight canker incidence, flower density, bush architecture, and husk morphology.
3. Play a critical role in the future of the U of M hazelnut breeding program and the development of a hazelnut industry in the Upper Midwest.

Specific duties include but are not limited to the following:
(75%) Conduct research aimed toward development of genomic prediction models for important target traits. Research may use existing genomic and phenotypic data in the program or may
involve designing and conducting experiments to obtain new data, and leveraging newly available genomic resources to improve upon existing sequencing and genotyping methods. Incumbent will conduct thorough literature review, consult with appropriate collaborators and industry experts in designing the experiments and participate in grant-writing activities. Research
activities include data collection, data analysis, and publication of research findings at academic conferences and in peer-reviewed journals. Participate in professional development activities.

(25%) Participate in routine operations of the hazelnut breeding program, including planning and executing pollinations, planting, propagation, harvest, evaluation of plants and nuts of seedlings and advanced selections, and coordinating with hosts of on-farm plantings.


Essential Qualifications:
• PhD in plant breeding or a related science
• Experience in evaluation of plant traits in a plant breeding program, including but not limited to disease responses, plant architecture, and nut characteristics
• Experience with breeding database software and/or familiarity with software for fitting mixed effect linear models
• Fundamental understanding of 2- and 3-D remote sensing data
• Proficiency using an interpreted programming language (e.g., Python; R; JavaScript) to conduct data analysis
• Experience with digital imaging applications for high-throughput phenotyping for field traits
• Demonstrated experience in design, conduct, and statistical analysis of experiments
• Demonstrated experience in management of large data sets
• Demonstrated skill in scientific writing, with a publication record in plant breeding and genetics
• Excellent interpersonal communication and organizational skills
• Documented ability to work independently and as part of a team with diverse perspectives
Desirable Qualifications
• Experience using GIS software (e.g., ArcGIS, QGIS) and Python computer vision packages (e.g., OpenCV; scikit-learn; PyTorch, GDAL; Pandas/Geopandas) to develop image processing pipelines for high throughput phenotyping
• Demonstrated experience growing plants in greenhouse or field settings
• Project management experience including field and lab-based projects
• Evidence of ability and willingness to effectively mentor undergraduates
Special Requirements: Willingness to relocate to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.. Ability to drive to research plantings which are located at Rosemount, Becker, Lamberton, Waseca and Staples, MN in addition to those on the St. Paul campus. This position will include greenhouse and agricultural fieldwork, which will require the ability to spend extended time in the research fields in all kinds of weather, walking on uneven terrain, digging and shoveling. It will also include lab and office-based work requiring the ability to sit or stand and work at a laboratory bench or computer workstation for extended periods. Occasional overnight travel to research sites within Minnesota or other domestic travel may be required.

About the Department

The University of Minnesota (U of M) began its hazelnut breeding and evaluation program in 2008 with the goal of improving the nut processing quality and agronomic characteristics of
hybrid hazelnuts while retaining their high levels of winter hardiness, disease resistance and yield potential. These are hybrids between domesticated large-seeded European
hazelnuts, which are the basis of the world hazelnut industry but not hardy or disease-resistant in the Upper Midwest, and wild smaller-seeded American hazelnuts, which are both disease resistant and hardy here. Our impetus is to diversify Midwestern agriculture, which is currently over-reliant on just a handful of annual row-crops, with long-lived woody perennials in integrated agroforestry systems to enhance the social, ecological and economic resilience of our region.

In phase one of our project, starting in 2008, we selected top individuals from on-farm plantings of open-pollinated seedlings located on farms and put them into replicated
trials, from which we have identified five that we are now working to release to the public. In phase two, from 2014 through 2016, we crossed our putative best selections
of hybrid germplasm with pollen of advanced selections of European hazelnuts shared from Oregon State University, to produce a population of about 7,000 F1 seedlings that
are now mature. Colleagues at the University of Wisconsin have developed genomic prediction models for nut and kernel size and shape using the largest families in this
population, but these models need validation and must be expanded to include a greater array of traits. Since 2020 we have made additional crosses, from which we
have planted an additional 3,000 F1 seedlings in Minnesota and 1,700 in Wisconsin, with more seedlings and seeds in the pipeline.

This work is part of the Upper Midwest Hazelnut Development Initiative, a collaboration with the University of Wisconsin, Ohio State University, and others. At the University of
Minnesota, this work is housed in the Forever Green Initiative within the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics.


Working at the University

At the University of Minnesota, you'll find a flexible work environment and supportive colleagues who are interested in lifelong learning. We prioritize work-life balance, allowing you to invest in the future of your career and in your life outside of work.

The University also offers a comprehensive benefits package that includes:
• Competitive wages, paid holidays, and generous time off
• Continuous learning opportunities through professional training and degree-seeking programs supported by the Regents Scholarship
• Low-cost medical, dental, and pharmacy plans
• Healthcare and dependent care flexible spending accounts
• University HSA contributions
• Disability and employer-paid life insurance
• Employee wellbeing program
• Excellent retirement plans with employer contribution
• Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) opportunity
• Financial counseling services
• Employee Assistance Program with eight sessions of counseling at no cost
• Employee Transit Pass with free or reduced rates in the Twin Cities metro area
Please visit the Office of Human Resources website for more information regarding benefits.

How To Apply

Applications must be submitted online. To be considered for this position, please click the Apply button and follow the instructions. You will have the opportunity to complete an online application for the position and attach a cover letter and resume.

Additional documents may be attached after application by accessing your "My Job Applications" page and uploading documents in the "My Cover Letters and Attachments" section. This position requires that you attach: a current CV/resume, cover letter, and list of professional references.

Initial review of applications will begin after March 17th. This position will remain open until filled.

To request an accommodation during the application process, please e-mail employ@umn.edu or call (612) 624-8647.

HIRING MANAGER: Dr. Don Wyse, don wysex001@umn.edu


The University recognizes and values the importance of diversity and inclusion in enriching the employment experience of its employees and in supporting the academic mission. The University is committed to attracting and retaining employees with varying identities and backgrounds.

The University of Minnesota provides equal access to and opportunity in its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. To learn more about diversity at the U: http://diversity.umn.edu

Employment Requirements

Any offer of employment is contingent upon the successful completion of a background check. Our presumption is that prospective employees are eligible to work here. Criminal convictions do not automatically disqualify finalists from employment.

About the U of M

The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (UMTC)

The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (UMTC), is among the largest public research universities in the country, offering undergraduate, graduate, and professional students a multitude of opportunities for study and research. Located at the heart of one of the nation's most vibrant, diverse metropolitan communities, students on the campuses in Minneapolis and St. Paul benefit from extensive partnerships with world-renowned health centers, international corporations, government agencies, and arts, nonprofit, and public service organizations.

At the University of Minnesota, we are proud to be recognized by the Star Tribune as a Top Workplace for 2021, as well as by Forbes as Best Employers for Women and one of America's Best Employers (2015, 2018, 2019, 2023), Best Employer for Diversity (2019, 2020), Best Employer for New Grads (2018, 2019), and Best Employer by State (2019, 2022
Minnesota USA


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