The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is committed to creating an environment of inclusive excellence that affirms diversity across a variety of dimensions, including ability, class, ethnicity/race, gender identity and expression. Inclusive excellence is the active process of including and respecting everyone as we strive for excellence and equitable outcomes in all we do at the University of Florida. We particularly welcome applicants who can contribute to such an environment through their scholarship, teaching, mentoring, and professional service. We strongly encourage historically underrepresented groups to apply.

If an accommodation due to a disability is needed to apply for this position, please call 352-392-2477 or the Florida Relay System at 800-955-8771 (TDD) or visit Accessibility at UF .

The role of this position will be focus on developing robotics and computer vision, using machine learning and artificial intelligence, to support different aspects of fruit crop breeding, with opportunities to expand to other areas.

This is a 12-month, non-tenure-accruing position, available in the Horticultural Science Department Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, at the University of Florida.

The Blueberry Breeding lab is fully embracing the University of Florida AI initiative (see background information below) by testing and implementing AI into our operation as well as collaborating with experts in this area across the University. Recently, UF’s server cluster has been ranked the second most powerful among universities nationwide, third in higher education worldwide, and 22nd among all clusters worldwide. The supercomputer is a cluster that includes the latest generation of processors and offers nodes for memory-intensive computation, a resource that will be fully available for research in this area.

The University of Florida has made a significant commitment to the development of AI through their new UF AI Initiative  and the gift from NVIDIA that is establishing the most powerful supercomputer in U.S. Higher Education at UF.

The blueberry breeding and genomic lab focuses in developing new blueberry cultivars that are used around the globe in tropical and subtropical areas, mentoring and developing people to reach their full potential to work in different fields, and developing knowledge addressing various biological and agronomical questions related to blueberries and polyploid species. Automating data collection, high throughput collection of fruit crop traits, and artificial intelligence will decisively contribute to increasing our current efficiency, by leveraging the number of data points collected, eliminating human biases, and streamlining our current breeding pipelines.

In this position you will be expected to lead the development of hardware and software for data collection methods aimed to improve the characterization and quantification of fruit quality and fruit trees characteristics. This includes the identification, adaptation or development of equipment for multispectral imaging, computer vision, and/or sensors mounted to manned, unmanned and autonomous robots to collect the information needed. The job also includes the identification, adaptation or development of software to extract process and then analysis this data being collected. This includes developing autonomous robots and UAV systems; supporting in-field testing and validation; working with cross-disciplinary teams to deploy phenomic-based procedures; developing models; preparing data reports and presentations for scientific and industry groups; publishing results in peer-reviewed journals; and supporting student mentoring.

As part of a your experience in our lab, we offer opportunities to help you grow your skills in research, teaching, grant writing, extension, and mentoring, all essential for continuing future career. Following this model, we have a 100% success rate in job placement after working in our lab as a postdoc (n=5). Starting at $50,000 depending on experience. Contribution to lab goals will be evaluated, and a contract of up to 4 years will be available.

Background Information:

The Horticultural Sciences Department is a unit within IFAS at the University of Florida and has diverse teaching, research, and extension education programs with 34 faculty in Gainesville and 26 faculty at various Research and Education Centers throughout the state. The Horticultural Sciences Department is currently ranked top 9 in the center for world university rankings.

The Blueberry Breeding and Genomic Lab is a lab within the Horticultural Science Department. The lab is led by Dr. Patricio Munoz who is an associate professor with more than 16 years of experience in plant breeding. The lab goals are both blueberry cultivar development and research methods that help accelerating the cultivar development. The lab will be moving to a newly build building in early 2022 where state of the art equipment and facilities will be available.

UF AI Initiative. Find yourself at the University of Florida where the most powerful supercomputer in U.S. higher education lives. The University of Florida is building an AI program with both breadth and depth: The depth to produce top Ph.D.’s in AI technology and the breadth to infuse AI into UF’s entire curriculum so that all students, graduate and undergraduate, regardless of their major, develop basic awareness and competence in how AI is transforming their future careers.

This will arm every University of Florida student to help Florida build a tech-driven, high-wage economy in fields as diverse as medicine, agriculture, defense, manufacturing, software development, education, business, and more. The impact will be far reaching – the University of Florida student equipped with this knowledge will work independently with AI and data science to create new markets, new technologies, and an increasingly inclusive, ethical and just future.

The University of Florida has committed to hiring 100 AI-focused faculty across the entire university. These faculty are being sought as members of interdisciplinary teams that span multiple colleges, where UF will leverage its existing expertise as well as new faculty to tackle some of society’s most pressing challenges.

Minimum Requirements:

A doctorate (foreign equivalent acceptable) in computer science, engineering, plant breeding with specialization in phenomics or related areas.

Familiarity with AI and computer vision.

Familiarity with conducting analysis of large datasets using Python, R, or other programming languages

Comprehension of common machine learning algorithms, data mining, geospatial analysis, remote sensing image analysis, phenomics, etc.

Strong team player, willing to train junior scientists

Independent, self-motivated, well-organized, and critical thinker

Good written and verbal communication skills

Candidates must also have a commitment to IFAS core values of excellence, diversity, global involvement, and accountability.

Familiarity with robotics and engineering to collaborate with the task to design specific prototypes for blueberry field evaluation will be a plus.

Application must be submitted by 11:55 p.m. (ET) of the posting end date.

  • Individuals wishing to apply should go online to Careers at UF and submit:
    • Cover letter that states applicant’s motivation in the position and qualifications relative to the credentials listed above
    • Curriculum vitae
    • Contact information (including email addresses) for 3 individuals willing to write letters of recommendation

Selected candidate will be required to provide an official transcript to the hiring department upon hire. A transcript will not be considered “official” if a designation of “Issued to Student” is visible.  Degrees earned from an education institution outside of the United States are required to be evaluated by a professional credentialing service provider approved by National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES).

Hiring is contingent upon eligibility to work in the US. The University of Florida is a public institution and subject to all requirements under Florida Sunshine and Public Record laws.

The University of Florida is an Equal Opportunity Institution dedicated to building a broadly diverse and inclusive faculty and staff. The University and greater Gainesville community enjoy a diversity of cultural events, restaurants, year-round outdoor recreational activities, and social opportunities.

Applications close: 14 Oct 2022 Eastern Daylight Time

Apply now

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