Cornell University, School of Integrative Plant Science - Section of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology

Position ID:Cornell-School of Integrative Plant Science - Section of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology-POSTDOC1 [#13250, WDR-00017855]
Position Title: Postdoctoral Associate
Position Type:Postdoctoral
Position Location:Ithaca, New York 14853, United States [map]
Subject Areas: Plant Pathology
Genomics / Genetics
Appl Deadline:2019/05/16help popup finished (2019/02/07, finished 2019/05/22, listed until 2019/05/16)
Position Description:    

*** this position has been closed, and no new applications will be accepted. ***

Postdoctoral Associate 

Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology Section

School of Integrative Plant Science 

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences 

Ithaca, NY

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is a pioneer of purpose-driven science and Cornell University’s second largest college. We work across disciplines to tackle the challenges of our time through world-renowned research, education and outreach. The questions we probe and the answers we seek focus on three overlapping concerns: natural and human systems; food, energy and environmental resources; and social, physical and economic well-being.

The Bergstrom lab in the Section of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology at Cornell University is seeking a Postdoctoral Associate who will conduct research on the genetics of pathogen resistance in switchgrass. Switchgrass is an important target species for domestic production of cellulosic biofuels. The principal aim of most switchgrass breeding programs is to develop high-yielding cultivars. However, as feedstock plantings expand, so will pathogen pressure. Unless controlled, fungal pathogens with explosive disease potential will likely drive yield declines and economic losses. Pathogen resistance can be developed through breeding programs that exploit natural genetic variation in disease resistance. Much of the functional genetic variation in switchgrass is distributed clinally with latitude as well as between lowland and upland ecotypes. In general, southern lowland cultivars of switchgrass have many advantages over northern upland cultivars because they are higher yielding, require fewer nitrogen inputs, and are more resistant to pathogens. In addition, southern lowland cultivars are generally more tolerant to heat, drought, and flooding than northern upland cultivars. However, southern lowland cultivars are more susceptible to winter kill than northern upland cultivars.

This DOE funded research project is being conducted in collaboration with David Lowry of Michigan State University. The research utilizes new and powerful genetic mapping populations (QTL and GWAS) to identify genomic regions responsible for divergence in disease resistance between northern upland and southern lowland switchgrass ecotypes. These mapping populations have been planted at an unprecedented geographical scale, spanning twelve common garden field sites from central Mexico to the Northern United States. Therefore, this experiment is ideal for identification of regionally effective disease resistance loci (at one sites) as well as globally effective loci (across multiple sites). In addition, we plan to survey populations for survival to identify loci involved in overwinter survival. Results from the field will be validated through laboratory experiments on fungal pathogen resistance and freezing tolerance. Overall, these studies will provide an improved understanding of the process local adaptation and identify loci that can be utilized in switchgrass breeding programs.

The successful postdoc candidate will be responsible for leading research on the population genetics of switchgrass rusts and other pathogens. This research will include analyses of genomic data collected from field sites across North America. (Approximately 2 weeks of travel per year - within New York State).  Our research team has also recently discovered multiple potential disease resistance loci. The postdoc in this position would lead greenhouse experiments to confirm that these loci are responsible for divergence in pathogen resistance between ecotypes of switchgrass. This is a full-time, one year appointment with possible extension dependent on successful performance and continued funding.

Anticipated Division of Time:

60% Conduct of experiments in laboratory, greenhouse, growth chambers, and dispersed field locations

30% Analyses of genomic data

10% Writing of reports, manuscripts for publication, and contributions to grant proposals

Supervision Exercised:

The postdoc may on occasion supervise undergraduate research assistants working on this project.

Required Qualifications:

PhD in a field related to Genetics, Genomics, Bioinformatics, Evolution, Plant Biology, and/or Plant Pathology at the time of hire.  Must have and maintain a valid and unrestricted drivers license  and be able to meet the travel requirements of the position.

Preferred Qualifications: 

Expertise in plant pathology and inoculations with pathogens. General interest plant microbes and plant biology. Experience working in the field and laboratory with plants. Experience with analyzing genomic data and/or population genetic data.


Candidates should submit a cover letter, curriculum vitae, contact information for three references, a one page statement of past research accomplishments, and a statement of contribution to diversity, equity and inclusion via the website .  Review of applications will being immediately and continue until the position is filled.  If you have questions regarding this position please contact Professor & Department Chair, Gary Bergstrom at  

Employment Assistance: If you require an accommodation for a disability in order to complete an employment application or to participate in the recruiting process, you are encouraged to contact Cornell University's Department of Inclusion and Workforce Diversity at voice (607) 255-3976, fax (607) 255-7481, or email at For general questions about the position or the application process, please contact the Recruiter listed in the job posting. Applicants that do not have internet access are encouraged to visit your local library, or local Department of Labor. You may also visit the office of Workforce Recruitment and Retention Monday - Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. to use a dedicated workstation to complete an online application. Notice to Applicants: Please read the required Notice to Applicants statement by clicking here. This notice contains important information about applying for a position at Cornell as well as some of your rights and responsibilities as an applicant. EEO Statement: Diversity and Inclusion are a part of Cornell University’s heritage. We are a recognized employer and educator valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans and Individuals with Disabilities. We also recognize a lawful preference in employment practices for Native Americans living on or near Indian reservations. Cornell University is an innovative Ivy League university and a great place to work. Our inclusive community of scholars, students, and staff impart an uncommon sense of larger purpose, and contribute creative ideas to further the university's mission of teaching, discovery, and engagement.

Application Materials Required:
Submit the following items online at this website to complete your application:
And anything else requested in the position description.

Further Info:
Plant Pathology & Plant-Microbe Biology Section
School of Integrative Plant Science
134 Plant Science Building
Ithaca, NY 14853

© 2020 AcademicJobsOnline.Org. All Rights Reserved.