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Postdoctoral Research Associate

Please see Special Instructions for more details.

*APPLICATION PROCESS: Submit to Dr. Lindsey du Toit ( Plant Pathology - Lindsey du Toit and Vegetable Seed Pathology Team ) all of the following by email (, preferably by October 16, 2017: 1) A letter of application that addresses the required and preferred qualifications, 2) curriculum vitae, 3) academic transcripts, 4) examples of two peer-reviewed publications, 5) three letters of reference submitted by the references directly to Dr. du Toit.*

Position Details

Position Information

Employee Type Faculty
Working Title Postdoctoral Research Associate
Position Number 126396
College/Area College of Agricultural Human & Natural Resource Sciences
Hiring Unit WSU Mount Vernon NWREC
Department Link

WSU Mount Vernon NWREC

Work Location Mt. Vernon
Zip Code 98273
Summary of Duties

A Postdoctoral Research Associate position is available in the Department of Plant Pathology at Washington State University (WSU) to work on marker assisted selection for resistance to Fusarium wilt of spinach. Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is an important vegetable crop worldwide, with an estimated annual value of $11.8 billion. The only region of the USA that is suitable climatically for production of spinach seed crops is western Washington and western Oregon. However, the acid soils of this region are highly conducive to Fusarium wilt of spinach, caused by the soilborne fungus Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. spinaciae, necessitating rotations of 10 to 15 years between spinach seed crops to avoid major losses to this disease. Fusarium wilt has also become increasingly important in regions of leafy spinach crop production. Resistance to Fusarium wilt has been quantified in some spinach germplasm. There are no known major genes for resistance and most cultivars are highly susceptible. With limited effective options for management of spinach Fusarium wilt, there is a need for highly resistant cultivars, particularly for organic production which now comprises >40% of fresh market spinach in the USA.

The primary responsibility of this postdoctoral position is to help lead the phenotypic evaluation of diverse spinach germplasm for resistance to Fusarium wilt, in greenhouse and field environments; followed by association mapping and molecular marker-assisted selection of spinach germplasm for resistance to Fusarium wilt. The purpose is to integrate marker-assisted selection methods into classical, phenotypic breeding of spinach. The project is part of a larger resistance screening project with collaborators in three other states, funded by the USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative project 2017-51181-26830, to develop spinach cultivars with resistance to downy mildew, white rust, and Fusarium wilt. The effort is expected to provide spinach breeders with robust molecular tools to select for resistance to these important diseases and, consequently, to expedite development of resistant spinach cultivars.

This is a temporary, full-time position. The initial appointment is for 1 year, and is renewable for up to 2 years depending on satisfactory performance and availability of funding. The incumbent will work as part of the Vegetable Seed Pathology program under the supervision of Dr. Lindsey du Toit at the WSU Mount Vernon Research & Extension Center (NWREC) near Mount Vernon, WA (; with collaborators Drs. Jim Correll and Ainong Shi at the University of Arkansas; and with other spinach stakeholders (private and public breeders, growers, seed company representatives, extension educators, and other spinach specialists).

Additional Information

Position responsibilities include:
- Design statistically-robust greenhouse, field, and lab experiments focused on screening for resistance to Fusarium wilt; effective phenotyping of the reactions of diverse spinach germplasm to Fusarium wilt in a greenhouse will comprise the foundation of this project on which subsequent molecular analyses will be built.

- Utilize plant pathology laboratory, field, and greenhouse techniques, including isolation, culturing, identification and maintenance of pathogen cultures; inoculation with pathogens; phenotypic disease ratings; etc.

- Extract and process DNA effectively from spinach germplasm and plant pathogen isolates.

- Contribute meaningfully to whole-genome resequencing, discovery of molecular markers (single nucleotide polymorphisms), and association mapping for resistance to spinach Fusarium wilt with project collaborators.

- Complete data management and statistical analyses effectively and in a timely manner.

- Communicate and present results professionally to general and scientific audiences at stakeholder meetings, scientific conferences, and field days.

- Publish results in peer-reviewed, scientific journals, and review scientific publications.

- Assist with additional grant writing, if needed, to support the project.

- Collaborate professionally with regional, national, and international scientists/stakeholders.

- Work effectively independently and as part of the larger team associated with this project.

- Travel in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere in the USA for field trials, presentations, and research planning meetings related to this project.

Anticipated Start Date 11/01/2017
Tenure Track No
Full-Time/Part-Time Full Time
Appointment Status Temporary
Position Term in Months 12
Monthly Salary Commensurate with qualifications and experience
Required Qualifications

- PhD in plant pathology, plant breeding, or closely related field pertinent to the project.

- Demonstrated experience in plant pathology, including inoculation of plants with pathogens, effective plant disease phenotyping, plant pathogen isolation and identification methods, etc.

- Ability to complete research in field, greenhouse, and lab conditions.

- Experience with applied plant pathology in field and greenhouse environments.

- Ability to design statistically valid research trials, and to analyze and interpret data effectively using relevant statistical methods and software.

- Experience utilizing molecular techniques for plant pathogen identification and quantification, including regular PCR assays, real-time PCR assays, and DNA sequencing/sequence analyses.

- Ability to complete research independently and to work well as part of a team.

- Excellent written and oral English communication skills.

- Evidence of high quality scientific publications and presentations.

- Attention to detail, excellent record keeping, and ability to manage multiple concurrent projects.

- Possession of a valid driver’s license for at least 2 years, and ability to obtain a Washington State driver’s license within 1 month of starting this position.

- Ability to obtain a Washington State Pesticide Applicator’s/Consultant’s License within 2 months of starting this position.

- Ability to drive a pickup truck, and willingness to drive to spinach production sites in western Washington and western Oregon; willingness to travel to cooperating states for the project.

- Capacity to lift up to 30 lb repetitively.

- Willingness to learn and implement new techniques for advancement of the project.

Preferred Qualifications

- Experience with research methods on soilborne plant pathogens.

- Experience with phenotypic screening of plant germplasm for resistance to wilt diseases.

- Completed at least one graduate course in plant breeding.

- Strong analytical skills (statistics and bioinformatics).

- Familiarity with spinach production systems and diseases.

- Demonstrated competence with statistically sound epidemiological research methods, and competence with QTL, SNPs, and association mapping.

- Ability to help manage a research program, including experience mentoring students/interns.

Background Check Yes

Posting Detail Information

Type of Recruitment Open Recruitment
Posting Open Date 10/04/2017
Screening Begin Date 10/16/2017
Posting Close Date
Open Until Filled (overrides close field) Yes
Special Instructions to Applicants

APPLICATION PROCESS: Submit to Dr. Lindsey du Toit ( Plant Pathology – Lindsey du Toit and Vegetable Seed Pathology Team ) all of the following by email (, preferably by October 16, 2017: 1) A letter of application that addresses the required and preferred qualifications, 2) curriculum vitae, 3) academic transcripts, 4) examples of two peer-reviewed publications, 5) three letters of reference submitted by the references directly to Dr. du Toit.

EEO Statement

WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY/AFFIRMATIVE ACTION EDUCATOR AND EMPLOYER. Members of ethnic minorities, women, special disabled veterans, veterans of the Vietnam-era, recently separated veterans, and other protected veterans, persons of disability and/or persons age 40 and over are encouraged to apply.

WSU is committed to excellence through diversity and faculty-friendly policy action, including partner accommodation and NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation programs (

WSU employs only U.S. citizens and lawfully authorized non-U.S. citizens. All new employees must show employment eligibility verification as required by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

WSU is committed to providing access and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, activities, education and employment for individuals with disabilities. To request disability accommodation in the application process, contact Human Resource Services: 509-335-4521(v), Washington State TDD Relay Service: Voice Callers: 1-800-833-6384; TDD Callers: 1-800-833-6388, 509-335-1259(f), or

Posting Number 20152302F

Posting Supplemental Questions

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Applicant Documents

Required Documents
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