Harnessing Plant Initiative Program Manager

Job Details

Reporting to the Executive Director of The Salk Institute’s Harnessing Plants Initiative (“EDHPI”), this Ph.D. level plant biologist, geneticist, plant breeder and/or soil scientist will be responsible for the Science Delivery for all aspects of Salk’s Harnessing Plants Initiative (HPI) program focused on using plant biology to substantially increase plant derived durable soil and wetlands carbon sequestration and improved soil health.  The successful candidate will be responsible for tracking, coordinating, aligning, reporting, and facilitating the HPI related research activities in six world class Principal Investigator (“PI”) laboratories, spanning plant biology, genetics, epigenetics, biochemistry, genomics, soil science, and associated greenhouse facilities, and multiple academic and commercial collaboration partner relationships. 


Program Management (60%)

  • Responsible for the organization and coordination of HPI’s Science Delivery working closely with the EDHPI, the PI’s, their labs and HPI’s collaboration partners to assure smooth efficient delivery of:
    1. Science and technical operations
    2. Program milestone and proof points towards the initial scaling efforts of HPI
    3. High experimental and field trial throughput
    4. Performance metrics tracking against milestone goals
    5. Human and capital resourcing and management
    6. Science budgetary management
    7. Writing of reports and contributing to grant proposals.
  • Exercise project management skills and experience applied to HPI’s target applications including improved Salk Ideal Plant™ staple row crops and cover crops, wetlands, and Salk Ideal Plant™ applications such as rangelands, grasslands, and grazing lands.
  • Responsible for taking row crop, cover crop, wetland plant, rangeland plants and grazing land plants or other Salk Ideal Plant gene discovery constructs from the laboratory through pollination and breeding, greenhouse, and field trial evaluations, through hand-offs to commercial partners.

 Scientific and Laboratory Operations and Coordination (40%)

  • Responsible for scientific and laboratory operations and coordination, greenhouse facility and experimental design and implementation management, Salk Ideal Plant™ field trials across globally diverse soils, geographies and regions, assessment and measurement of soil carbon and soil health characteristics, plant polymer analysis using advanced technologies including at least Pyrolysis Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry and Solid State Nuclear Magnetic Resonance imaging, and coordinating and managing multiple collaborations.
  •  Responsible for early identification and resolution of key staffing, and coordination and prioritization of lab, greenhouse and early field trial activities working closely with PIs; identification and resolution of critical program gaps and bottlenecks, further developing and implementing quality control and assurance measures for regulatory and Health, Safety & Environment requirements in lab, greenhouse and field operations and development and regular (at least monthly) meeting updates and/or reports providing transparent, granular and evergreen integrated plans and Gant Charts for lab, greenhouse and field activity in the HPI program.
  • Responsible for the hiring and management of project managers reporting to the Program Manager.



  •  5+ years’ experience in commercial agriculture, preferably with one or more dominant global agriculture seed companies.
  • Working experience in one or more of plant biology, genetics, and genomics.
  • Strong soil science experience and skills helpful, as well as a passion for mitigating climate change through terrestrial, wetland and agricultural soil carbon sequestration.


  • Strong commercial crop breeding experience in major global row crops such as soybean, corn, wheat, rice, canola, alfalfa, and/or sorghum.
  • Experience with diversity collection analysis, gene editing, CRISPR technologies, genetic modification, and traditional breeding.
  • Experience preparing data packages for regulatory and commercial transaction purposes.



  • Ph.D. in related field.



  •  Strong leadership skills.
  • Strong presentation and critical thinking skills.
  • Excellent strategic thinking and advising skills.
  • Excellent written, verbal, and interpersonal communication skills.
  • Ability to successfully facilitate cross-functional teams.
  • Ability to effectively interact with all levels internally and externally to build credibility and relationships
  • Ability to manage projects and priorities with exceptional organizational and time management skills.
  • Proficient in advanced techniques with relevant software: MS Project, Excel, PowerPoint, Word, etc. in addition to experience working within shared work environments.
  • Strong understanding of critical path activities.
  • Ability to anticipate risks and proactively create contingency plans in collaboration with project teams.
  • Ability to generate analyses of timeline, resource, and budget information that facilitates scenario planning, contingency planning, risk assessment and management, problem solving, and decision-making.


  •  Must be willing to work in an animal-related research environment.
  • Satisfactory completion of the Institute’s background investigation.
  • Willing to sign a confidentiality agreement


This position will be constantly adjusting focus, grasping, hearing, keying, seeing, sitting, talking, analyzing, calculating, communicating, reading, reasoning, writing and working inside. 


Working at Salk Institute for Biological Studies

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies is one of the world's preeminent basic research institutions, where internationally renowned faculty probe fundamental life science questions in a unique, collaborative, and creative environment. Focused on both discovery and mentoring future generations of researchers, Salk scientists make groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of cancer, aging, Alzheimer's, diabetes, and cardiovascular disorders by studying neuroscience, genetics, cell and plant biology, and related disciplines.

Faculty achievements have been recognized with numerous honors, including Nobel Prizes and memberships in the National Academy of Sciences. Founded in 1960 by polio vaccine pioneer Jonas Salk, M.D., the Institute is an independent nonprofit organization and architectural landmark.

Salk Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination Statement

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies is committed to providing equal access to opportunities for students, employees, applicants for employment and other persons.

Our policies prohibit harassment or unlawful discrimination against individuals on the basis of sex, gender, marital or parental status, pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, medical conditions/disabilities related to pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation age, ancestry, color, religion (including religious dress and grooming practices), family and/or medical care leave status, disability (mental or physical), registered domestic partner status, legally protected medical condition, genetic information, military or veteran status (disabled veteran, veteran of the Vietnam era, other covered veteran status), national origin (including language use restrictions and possession of a driver’s license), race, religion or any other classification protected by local, state or federal laws.

The Salk Institute participates in the E-Verify program.

Reasonable accommodation is available for qualified individuals with disabilities and for individuals with religious restrictions.



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