The Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) is a rapidly expanding Institute based at the University of Saskatchewan. Our Vision is a world where everyone has access to safe and nutritious food. This is a bold vision, one that we will strive to achieve through investing in our talent. In line with our Mission, we will work with our employees, partners, and stakeholders to discover, develop, and deliver innovative solutions for the production of globally sustainable food.

We are guided by our Values of: Innovation. Excellence. Collaboration. Integrity. Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

Primary Purpose: Conduct research in support of a four-year project jointly funded by Agricultural Development Fund (ADF), and Saskatchewan Cattleman Association (SCA). The project, entitled “Genomic analysis of alfalfa for the development of salt and drought tolerant germplasm for breeding programs,” main objectives are:

  1. To develop new genomic resources to better understand the salt and drought tolerance mechanisms in alfalfa and to use long-read sequencing technologies to develop high-quality and high-contiguous genome assemblies that efficiently capture genomic diversity including single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and structural variants (SVs).
  2. To carry out association and linkage mapping studies to develop breeding tools for the creation of salt and drought tolerant alfalfa cultivars.
  3. Other duties of the position will include, but are not limited to, diligent and timely design and implementation of genotyping and phenotyping activities, complete data analysis and interpretation, as well as preparation of manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals.

Nature of Work: Reporting to the Technical Lead, Plant Improvement, and working collaboratively with Dr. Andrew Sharpe, you will work on developing high-quality alfalfa reference genome assemblies using long-read sequence technology. You will work on the characterization of the genetic diversity of alfalfa lines. Phenotyping for salt and drought tolerance will be key for this project.

You will work with our collaborators to do phenotyping of agronomically important traits. This information will be used to generate association analysis to identify QTLs or candidate regions for alfalfa trait improvement. The genetic information, markers, alleles of salt/drought tolerant genes, and the tools used to generate them will be made available to breeders.

The work is complex and requires a good understanding of the alfalfa crop and genome biology/structure. The volume of work is high and may require off-hours efforts. You will be expected to work effectively, both independently and as a team member, and to exercise discretionary day to day decision making, while strategic decisions are made with direction from senior researchers and sanctioned by the supervisor.

Work occurs in an environment which requires a high level of accuracy and significant judgement is required with errors resulting in a moderate to a high level of impact resulting in lost time, resources, or impacts to external clients. You will be part of a team that fosters a work atmosphere that is collaborative, open, positive, supportive, responsive, and transparent.  You will demonstrate a strong safety acumen and a commitment to ongoing professional development.


  • Design and carry out the implementation of experiments in the lab, field, and greenhouse to study primarily forage germplasm.
  • Compile and summarize experimental data, reporting, prepare manuscripts, and publish in high-quality journals.
  • Assist in developing innovative research projects and prepare grant-proposals.
  • Supervise and guide new graduate students and technicians in all research activities.
  • Adhere to good equipment use practices, including proper operation, cleaning, and maintenance.
  • Adhere to all applicable SOP’s, including R&D and production.
  • Adhere to all safety and good laboratory practices as per WHMIS and Lab Safety Training guidelines.


  • PhD degree in Plant Genetics and/or Plant Genomics, Plant Molecular Biology, or a related discipline pertinent to the needs of the project from a recognized university.
  • A strong background in statistics (R, etc.) packages, quantitative genetics and genomics software is also preferred.
  • Graduate level or post-doctoral experience in plant genetics and bioinformatics.
  • Experience with forage crop breeding and genetics is preferred.
  • Experience with plant breeding, molecular breeding, genotyping-by-sequencing, high-throughput SNP genotyping, genome-wide association studies, and genomic selection is preferred.
  • Proficiency with molecular biology techniques such as, but not limited to, DNA/RNA extraction, PCR analysis and NGS library preparation.
  • Experience with the Linux operating system environment and use of bash, python, or Perl to analyze the data using several bioinformatics tools is preferred.


  • Demonstrated understanding of plant genetics and genomics, and salt and drought tolerance mechanisms.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills with the ability to establish and maintain effective, respectful relationships to ensure a culture of collaboration. 
  • Ability to gather, analyze, and present information with fastidious attention to detail.
  • Ability to work effectively in a team-oriented and diverse atmosphere.
  • Highly motivated with a willingness to learn and the proven ability to be self-directed and highly organized, thriving in a dynamic environment.
  • Demonstrated analytic and problem-solving skills.
  • A track record of delivering superior results via collaborative and team based working styles, while meeting demanding timelines.
  • A deep commitment to enacting on the values of equity, diversity, and inclusion.
  • Sound judgment, discretion, diplomacy, and professional integrity.
  • Ability to identify issues and then develop and implement creative and outcomes-oriented solutions.

Applications should include:

  • A cover letter indicating the position applied for and the main research interests.
  • A detailed CV.
  • A brief research statement.
  • Contact information of 3 references (Applicants are assumed to have obtained their references’ consent to be contacted for this matter).

Department: Global Inst for Food Security
Status: Term
Employment Group: Post-Doctoral Fellows – PSAC
Full Time Equivalent (FTE): 1.0
Salary Information: The starting salary will be commensurate with education and experience.
Posted Date: 5/31/2022
Closing Date: 7/12/2022
Number of Openings: 1

Work Location: On CampusThe University believes equity, diversity, and inclusion strengthen the community and enhance excellence, innovation and creativity. We are dedicated to recruiting individuals who will enrich our work and learning environments. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, in accordance with Canadian immigration requirements, Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be given priority.

We are committed to providing accommodations to those with a disability or medical necessity. If you require an accommodation in order to participate in the recruitment process, please notify us and we will work together on the accommodation request. The University of Saskatchewan’s main campus is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis. We pay our respects to the First Nations and Métis ancestors of this place and reaffirm our relationship with one another. Together, we are uplifting Indigenization to a place of prominence at the University of Saskatchewan

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