Postdoctoral Associate in Plant Pathology & Plant Microbe-Biology Cornell University, School of Integrative Plant Sciences United States

Postdoctoral Associate


Postdoctoral Associate
School of Integrative Plant Sciences
Section of Plant Pathology & Plant Microbe-Biology
Ithaca, NY 

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is a pioneering practitioner 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. Since our founding, we have been evolving to meet the changing needs of our world. As our areas of study have diversified, we have established top-ranked programs and over 20 majors in community and rural development, environment and natural resources, food and nutrition, applied economics, agriculture, international programs and life sciences. It is vital to us that we match the excellence of our science with the generosity of our spirit. We want to leave the world better than we found it, so we seek out those not simply driven to master their discipline, but passionate about doing so to serve the public good. CALS is fundamentally invested in improving the lives of people, their environments and their communities both in New York state and around the world.

The Section of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, as part of Cornell’s School of Integrative Plant Science, makes new scientific discoveries about the interactions between plants and microbes and developing innovative solutions to address the challenges of 21st century agriculture across the globe. We offer students and postgraduate scholars exciting opportunities to study the origins and consequences of plant diseases. At the same time, we provide essential information to decision-makers, including agriculture producers, educators, policymakers, home gardeners and local communities. 

The Nelson Lab focuses on the genetic dissection of disease resistance in maize and sorghum, as well as on the management of mycotoxins in the African food system. Examples of projects involve the analysis of the genetic architecture of disease resistance; the mechanisms and genes determining this resistance and/or susceptibility; methods for analyzing disease-related traits, including mycotoxin detection; and ways of reducing the accumulation of fungal toxins in the food system and of reducing exposure to the toxins. Our collaborators and stakeholders are both national and international. For more information on the Nelson lab visit: 

A Postdoctoral Associate Position is available immediately as part of a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded project entitled “Trial To Establish Causal Linkage Between Mycotoxin Exposure and Child Stunting.” The successful candidate is expected to work full time to create and test grain-sorting technologies for use in low-resource settings to reduce mycotoxin contamination in maize. This will involve analysis of grain samples to understand the physical properties that can be used as a basis for sorting to reduce toxin levels in maize grain intended for human consumption. Sorting is expected to take advantage of the different density and spectral properties of healthy v. contaminated maize kernels. 

The incumbent will develop a work flow to characterize the spectral and other features of different types of maize, and will iteratively test and refine sorter prototypes to reduce mycotoxin contamination. The work will starting in the lab setting and shift to a focus on real-world settings in Africa. In addition, the incumbent is required to keep a detailed laboratory notebook, contribute to general orderliness of the laboratory and support lab health and safety compliance. The individual may be asked to train and or supervise junior laboratory staff.

This is a one-year term appointment with potential for renewal dependent on performance and funding.


Required Qualifications:

  • Ph.D. in plant breeding and genetics, plant pathology, engineering, food science or allied field, with relevant research experience 

  • The ability to travel nationally and internationally to conduct research in Africa (Kenya and/or Tanzania)

  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills with a strong publication record.


Preferred Qualifications:

  • 3 years of experience in applied engineering, plant pathology, international agriculture or plant breeding, or food science.

  • Ability to apply an engineering approach to solving research problems

  • Interest in international agriculture



  • A letter of interest in the position, C.V., and contact information for three references should be emailed together as a single PDF file to Rebecca Nelson at

  • Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.

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