About the Job: Researcher 2; Department of Plant Pathology; University of Minnesota; Percent Time: 75% (30 hours/week) or 100% (40 hours/week)

Position Summary: The successful candidate will support a program aimed at understanding the molecular mechanisms of virulence/avirulence in cereal rust fungi (Puccinia species)

through genomics and effector biology research and identifying and characterizing disease resistance genes in both cultivated and wild cereal species. Research will involve genomics-based inter-species comparisons of the wheat stem rust (Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici) (Pgt), oat crown rust (P. coronata f. sp. avenae), and barley leaf rust (Puccinia hordei) pathogens and discovery of avirulence effectors that may enhance global rust surveillance capacity and contribute to developing durable rust resistance in small grain cereal crops. This is an international research project that includes partners from the National Institute of Agricultural Botany in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Australia.

Job Duties:

(30%) Increasing, purifying, and manipulating rust pathogen isolates for subsequent experiments. This may include mutagenesis experiments to knock out effector genes in the pathogen.

(15%) Extraction of DNA from rust pathogen isolates. This involves learning various DNA extraction techniques for specific down-stream analyses and also monitoring quality control.

(15%) Phenotyping rust pathogen isolates for their virulence/avirulence phenotypes on seedling plants in the greenhouse and adult plants in the field. This involves the collection of phenotype data by visual and/or digital means plus the analysis and interpretation of these data. Data analysis will involve using the appropriate statistical software programs (e.g. R, SAS, etc.). Interpretation of data are required for planning the next phase of research.

(10%) Organization and maintenance of experimental pathogen stocks, plant germplasm, laboratory supplies, and equipment. This includes documenting and curating incoming pathogen and plant genotypes; verifying the purity of said genotypes; inputting data about each genotype in an easily accessible and current database; and testing the viability of genotypes and increasing them as needed. Additional duties include ensuring that critical laboratory supplies are ordered and available for experiments as needed and keeping laboratory and field equipment in good working order.

(10%) Design and execution of laboratory, greenhouse, and field experiments. This includes making decisions on the type of experimental designs to be used in research, use of various management strategies to maintain experiments in good order; selection and increase of and inoculation with pathogens for disease resistance assays of germplasm.

(10%) Report writing, including creation of accompanying tables and graphics. This includes the writing of comprehensive experimental reports for: i) project archives, ii) collaborators, iii) publication in refereed journals, iv) oral/poster presentations at meetings, and v) use in grant proposals. Important components of these experimental reports are publication-quality figures, tables and images. For these duties, proficiency in basic computer programs (i.e. word-processing, spreadsheet, presentation and statistical analysis software in either Macintosh or PC computer platforms) is required.

(10%) Laboratory management. Organization of project data; purchase and organization of research supplies and materials; assisting in project budget allocations; ensuring personnel have fulfilled laboratory/field safety requirements; and hiring undergraduate personnel (involves posting laboratory assistant positions; hiring the best candidates from the pool of candidates; scheduling work duties; and monitoring work quality and hours).

This is a civil service position that can accommodate candidates desiring either a 75% (30 hours/week) or 100% (40 hours/week) time position. Salary is commensurate with experience. The successful candidate will be eligible for the Regents scholarship, a University of Minnesota program that allows enrollment in one course per semester to augment the skill set needed for the position and could ultimately contribute to the course requirements needed for an advanced degree.


Required Qualifications: The minimum qualifications are:

  • B.A./B.S. degree in biological sciences, agronomy, genetics, botany, microbiology or plant pathology and at least one year of work experience (or an equivalent combination of education and work experience to equal five years) in the pertinent research areas;
  • experience in the culture and manipulation of microbes infecting plants, especially the rust fungi;
  • experience in the establishment and maintenance of greenhouse and field-based experiments on plants;
  • proficiency in DNA extraction methods from microbes and plants; and
  • basic computer skills with various software packages (i.e. word-processing, spreadsheet, presentation and statistical analysis software in either Macintosh or PC computer platforms).

Preferred Qualifications:

  • excellent written/oral communication and organizational skills;
  • experience in experimental documentation (photography of specimens and electronic data recording and manipulation);
  • familiarity of inoculation techniques and disease assessment methods with plants;
  • experience in project management (i.e. overseeing budgets, organization of data; personnel issues, laboratory/field safety requirements, purchase and organization of research supplies and materials);
  • advanced computer software skills (i.e. advanced data analysis and statistical packages);
  • and knowledge of genotyping/sequencing analysis techniques.

About the Department;

Department Overview:

Since 1907 the Department of Plant Pathology has had a strong and positive impact on plant health, agricultural development, and ecosystem vitality on local, national, and international scales.

Ongoing collaborative and interdisciplinary efforts in basic and applied research have enabled the faculty in the Department of Plant Pathology to build a strong foundation of science in teaching, research, and extension. Faculty in the Department are nationally and internationally recognized for conducting research in genetics of disease resistance at the molecular, cellular, and whole plant levels; genomics/bioinformatics of plant-microbe interactions; plant disease management; microbial ecology related to plant health and disease; biological control; population genetics; fungal biology and genomics; plant virology; bacteriology; nematology; forest health; wood deterioration; high throughput phenotyping; and global climate change.

Exemplary education, based on research, is a departmental priority and faculty offer a rich and diverse portfolio of undergraduate and graduate courses, serving students within the Department and across the College and University through in-person and online delivery. The Department’s strong graduate program delivers excellence in teaching, research, and mentoring that provides an enriching graduate experience. Graduates move on to careers in agriculture and related industries, public agencies, academia, and private consulting.

The Department has access to state-of-the-art facilities including plant growth facilities with classrooms, greenhouses, and a biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) plant pathology quarantine greenhouse and laboratory, along with adjacent research plots that support both conventional and organic production systems. Other resources include the Minnesota Supercomputer Institute and Biodale that provides state-of-the art genomic, imaging, and mass-spectrometry facilities.

Ten unique research and outreach centers throughout Minnesota enhance the Department’s research infrastructure. Adjunct faculty from the USDA-ARS Cereal Disease Laboratory, USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, and Plant Science Research Unit, located on campus, support the mission of the Department. A dedicated and professional team supports the Department’s administrative, financial, and communication functions.

College Overview

The College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) is composed of 13 academic departments, 10 research and outreach centers across Minnesota, plus the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, the Bell Museum, and dozens of interdisciplinary centers that span the college, the university, and the globe. CFANS offers thirteen undergraduate majors and thirteen graduate majors, three pre-major/pre-professional programs and 23 minors for undergraduate students.

Undergraduate enrollment in the college is about 2000 students. CFANS students are well-prepared for a diverse, multicultural workforce through the college’s emphasis on experiential, interdisciplinary, and intercultural learning; internships and global perspectives.

At CFANS, we aim to inspire minds, nourish people, and enhance the natural environment, and we believe that’s only possible if everyone feels seen, heard and respected. Our College embraces equity and diversity and prioritizes purpose-driven scientific discovery in order for us to build a better tomorrow, together.

We align with the University of Minnesota in providing equal access to and opportunity in its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.


Working at the University: At the University of Minnesota, you’ll find a flexible work environment and supportive colleagues who are interested in lifelong learning.  We prioritize work-life balance, allowing you to invest in the future of your career and in your life outside of work.

The University also offers a comprehensive benefits package that includes:

  • Competitive wages, paid holidays, and generous time off
  • Continuous learning opportunities through professional training and degree-seeking programs supported by the Regents Scholarship
  • Low-cost medical, dental, and pharmacy plans
  • Healthcare and dependent care flexible spending accounts
  • University HSA contributions
  • Disability and employer-paid life insurance
  • Employee wellbeing program
  • Excellent retirement plans with employer contribution
  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) opportunity
  • Financial counseling services
  • Employee Assistance Program with eight sessions of counseling at no cost

How to Apply:

Applications must be submitted online.  To be considered for this position, please click the Apply button and follow the instructions.  You will be given the opportunity to complete an online application for the position and attach a cover letter and resume.

Additional documents may be attached after application by accessing your “My Job Applications” page and uploading documents in the “My Cover Letters and Attachments” section. To request an accommodation during the application process, please e-mail employ@umn.edu  or call (612) 624-UOHR (8647).

Applicants must include:

  • a cover letter that summarizes research experience related to the position,
  • a curriculum vita; and
  • the contact information for three professional references. Only applications submitted on-line will be considered:

Questions regarding the position can be directed to: Dr. Brian Steffenson: Distinguished Global Professor and Lieberman-Okinow Endowed Chair, Department of Plant Pathology. 495 Borlaug Hall, 1991 Upper Buford Circle, University of Minnesota. St. Paul, MN 55108 E-mail: bsteffen@umn.edu Phone (612) 625-4735 FAX (612) 625-9728


The University recognizes and values the importance of diversity and inclusion in enriching the employment experience of its employees and in supporting the academic mission.  The University is committed to attracting and retaining employees with varying identities and backgrounds.

The University of Minnesota provides equal access to and opportunity in its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression

Employment Requirements: Any offer of employment is contingent upon the successful completion of a background check. Our presumption is that prospective employees are eligible to work here. Criminal convictions do not automatically disqualify finalists from employment.

Please note: All employees at the University of Minnesota are required to comply with the University’s Administrative Policy: COVID-19 Vaccination and Safety Protocol by either providing proof of being fully vaccinated on their first day of employment, or complete a request for an exemption for medical exemption or religious reasons.

The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (UMTC), is among the largest public research universities in the country, offering undergraduate, graduate, and professional students a multitude of opportunities for study and research. Located at the heart of one of the nation’s most vibrant, diverse metropolitan communities, students on the campuses in Minneapolis and St. Paul benefit from extensive partnerships with world-renowned health centers, international corporations, government agencies, and arts, nonprofit, and public service organizations.


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