Postdoctoral fellow, cassava breeder

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)

Job Summary

IITA seeks a highly motivated individual to work on cassava breeding using genomic selection within the Next Generation Cassava Breeding project. The primary activities include phenotypic and genotypic characterization of germplasm populations, describing genetic architecture of breeding traits and implementation of genomic selection and marker-assisted selection. Other opportunities are an exploration of a large repository of genomic and phenotype cassava data produced in the first phase of the project.

  • Minimum Qualification: MPhil / PhD
  • Experience Level: Senior level
  • Experience Length: 5 years

Job Description

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) is a not-for-profit institution that generates agricultural innovations to meet Africa’s most pressing challenges of hunger, malnutrition, poverty, and natural resource degradation. Working with various partners across sub-Saharan Africa, we improve livelihoods, enhance food and nutrition security, increase employment, and preserve natural resource integrity. IITA is a member of CGIAR, a global agriculture research partnership for a food secure future. 

Job Summary

  • The Next Generation Cassava Breeding project aims to significantly increase the rate of genetic gain in cassava breeding and unlock the full potential of cassava, a staple crop central to food security and livelihoods across Africa.
  • The project implements Genomic Selection to accelerate breeding cycles to develop high yielding, climate resilient, higher pest and disease resistant varieties that meet the farmer and consumer demands.
  • As part of the NEXTGEN project, the postdoctoral fellow will get broad exposure and work closely with a global genomics and breeding community, including Cornell University, National Root Crops Research Institute in Nigeria, the National Crops Resources Research Institute in Uganda, Tanzania’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the Boyce Thompson Institute, and USDA-ARS.

Position Responsibilities 

The Postdoctoral Fellow will undertake the following tasks:

  • Develop improved cassava lines by working at the interface between field breeding, genomic selection and marker assisted selection.
  • Implement multi-environment field trials to evaluate performance of new populations and make advancement decisions to support the breeding pipeline.
  • Carry out routine single and multi-environment mixed-model analysis of field trial data.
  • Carry out population genetic analyses to describe germplasm collections using genome-wide SNP markers.
  • Develop and validate new phenotyping platforms for cassava breeding (e.g. NIR).
  • Publish research findings in peer reviewed journals.
  • Stay current on relevant technical advances.

Other Responsibilities

  • This position will involve extensive travels within Nigeria and Africa to co-coordinate a cassava breeding community of practice within the national programs of DR Congo, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Zambia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Malawi and Cote d’Ivoire.
  • Provide technical backstopping in data analytical developments and process improvement for national partner programs in Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania.
  • Participate in resource mobilization with cassava research teams.

Educational Qualifications

  • The candidate should have a Ph.D in Plant or Animal Breeding or Agronomy.

Core Competencies:

  • Strong background in breeding, quantitative genetics, statistics, and molecular technologies.
  • Highly self-motivated, detail-oriented, and innovative.
  • Excellent leadership, communication, and interpersonal skills.
  • Good project management skills.
  • Demonstrated experience with statistical programming in R.
  • Strong record of innovation and process improvement in breeding.
  • Strong understanding of management and utilization of large data sets.
  • Experience working in a multicultural environment.
  • Ability to communicate in both English and French is desirable.

General Information

  • The contract will be for an initial period of two years with possibility of renewal based on performance and availability of funding. IITA offers internationally competitive remuneration package paid in U.S. Dollars.

How to Apply

  • Interested applicants should complete the online application attaching detailed cover letter and curriculum vitae saved with their names in Microsoft word format, The application must include the names and e-mail addresses of three professional referees which must include the applicant’s current or previous direct Supervisor, professional colleague and evidence of current remuneration package.

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