Skip to main content

Post Doctoral Fellow - Department of Plant & Environmental Sciences - Florence, SC

Clemson University
140 Pinter, Pee Dee REC, Florence SC 29506

Job Details

Post Doctoral Fellow - Department of Plant & Environmental Sciences - Florence, SC

140 Pinter, Pee Dee REC, Florence SC 29506
Open Date:
May 3, 2024

Drs. Trevor Rife and Jenna Hershberger are seeking to hire a postdoctoral fellow to be part of the USAID Feed the Future Climate Resilient Cereals Innovation Lab (CRCIL). The position will oversee the development and implementation of phenotypic and phenomic data collection and analysis strategies in breeding programs to facilitate improved cereal crop resiliency to abiotic and biotic stress in vulnerable production regions across the world.

The postdoctoral fellow is expected to work closely with international partners including designated National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI) breeding hubs positioned in African, Caribbean, and South Asian countries. As such, extensive international travel to these partner institutions is expected to maximize research and cultivar development output, as well as support training in these areas. Four cereal crops of focus in CRCIL include millet, rice, sorghum, and wheat.

The postdoctoral fellow is expected to contribute a major portion of time toward developing and implementing tools and methods to support germplasm enhancement activities. Such responsibilities include but are not limited to: (1) Breeding program evaluation (2) Digitizing breeding data collection (3) Breeding pipeline optimization (4) Training and support (5) Development and validation of new breeding tools,

The postdoctoral fellow will work closely with multi-institutional project teams in genomics, genome editing, product profile development, nutritional characterization, and crop modeling to effectively make advances in the identification and delivery of important genes and alleles that improve the ability of cereal crops to produce quality grain under harsh environmental conditions. Key U.S. collaborations in CRCIL include Kansas State University (project lead), Clemson University, Cornell University, Breeding Insight, Delaware State University, Louisiana State University, and the University of Florida.

Primary Responsibilities:

Breeding program evaluation – The postdoctoral fellow will work to conduct thorough assessments of current NARI breeding program strategies to identify strengths and weaknesses and generate actionable recommendations. Analysis will include clarity of program objectives, technical capacity, and breeding pipeline organization. (20%)

Digitizing breeding data collection – The postdoctoral fellow will work with breeding programs to identify strategies to facilitate transitions, where applicable, from manual breeding data collection methods to digital platforms. (20%)

Breeding pipeline optimization – The postdoctoral fellow will identify strategies to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of NARI breeding programs. (15%)

Training breeders to use new tools – Direct training of personnel (faculty, staff, and students) at both NARI breeding hubs and U.S. partners in phenotyping and phenomics tools will be essential for project success. Discovery, validation, and introgression of new germplasm and genetic variants are necessary steps toward building resources and products that mitigate impacts from abiotic and biotic stressors. Educating project personnel in these fields will equip them with the skills and expertise to continue crop improvement post-project period. (25%)

Development of new data collection tools – The postdoctoral fellow will work with international project partners, particularly NARI breeding hubs, to identify, co-develop, and pilot innovative tools for data collection that solve specific challenges. Tools will be built based on priority, feasibility, and impact assessment. (20%)



(1) PhD in breeding, genetics, genomics, bioinformatics, or related field.

(2) Sufficient knowledge and research experience in plant breeding, genetics, bioinformatics, or related field to design and implement germplasm enhancement activities as outlined in responsibilities.

(3) Willingness and ability to travel internationally for extended periods.

Desired Qualifications:

(1) Relevant project management experience (private industry, non-profit, or academic).

(2) Relevant experience in graduate and/or undergraduate student training.

(3) The candidate must be highly organized and able to work effectively with and manage a group of individuals with diverse backgrounds and skillsets.

Application Instructions:

Please submit the following documents to Interfolio:

1. Cover letter

2. CV

3. Transcripts

4. Contact information for three references

This position will remain open until filled, but full consideration will be given to those who apply by 5/29/24.

Equal Employment Opportunity Statement:
Clemson University is an AA/EEO employer and does not discriminate against any person or group on the basis of age, color, disability, gender, pregnancy, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, veteran status or genetic information.


Working at Clemson University

Clemson is a dynamic research university located in Upstate South Carolina at the center of the booming I-85 corridor between Charlotte, N.C., and Atlanta, Ga. One of the nation’s most selective public research universities according to U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review, Clemson University is the school of choice among top students in South Carolina and is increasingly competitive for the best students in the region and the nation. More than 17,100 students select from 70 undergraduate and 100 graduate degree programs through five academic colleges: Agriculture, Forestry and Life SciencesArchitecture, Arts and HumanitiesBusiness and Behavioral ScienceEngineering and Science; and Health, Education and Human Development.

Clemson’s transformation into a leading research institution — currently attracting in excess of $140 million in externally funded research and sponsored program awards per year — is based upon an academic plan that identifies eight emphasis areas in which the University has opportunities to increase education and research, to align with South Carolina’s economic development needs and to draw upon faculty strengths. Emphasis areas include automotive and transportation technology, advanced materials, biotechnology and biomedical sciences, leadership and entrepreneurship, sustainable environment, information and communication technology, family and community living, and general education.

Major economic development initiatives that have emerged from the academic plan include the Clemson International Center for Automotive Research — a 250-acre campus in Greenville, which has generated more than $225 million in public and private commitments in just four years; an advanced materials initiative at the Clemson Research Park, which includes a new LEED Silver-certified facility; and the South Carolina Health Sciences Collaborative — an initiative of the state’s three research universities and major health-care systems.

As the state’s land-grant university, Clemson reaches out to citizens, communities and businesses all over South Carolina. The Public Service Activities division includes the county-based Cooperative Extension Service, five off-campus research and education centers through the Clemson University Experiment Station and critical regulatory responsibilities for plant and animal health.

The University boasts a 1,400-acre campus on the shores of Lake Hartwell within view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Surrounding the campus are 18,000 acres of University farms and woodlands devoted to research. A warm campus environment, great weather and recreational activities offered by proximity to both the natural surroundings and large cities are part of the Clemson Experience.


Points of interest at Clemson include the following:

The Clemson Conference Center and Inn is a state-of-the-art facility for symposia, meetings, seminars and special events. The complex includes the Madren Continuing Education and Conference Center, the Walker Golf Course and the Martin Inn.

The South Carolina Botanical Garden, a 295-acre public garden, features several thousand varieties of ornamental plants and a unique collection of nature-based sculptures.

The Robert Howell Brooks Center for the Performing Arts brings an exciting array of concert, theater, dance, comedy and other live performances to the community.

The Robert Campbell Geology Museum at the Botanical Garden displays meteorites, minerals, dinosaur fossils and the largest faceted-stone collection in the Southeast.

The T. Ed Garrison Livestock Arena is a showplace for livestock activities in the state and has hosted horse and livestock shows, rodeos, sales, 4-H activities, educational programs, and industrial and agricultural exhibitions.

Fort Hill, the home of John C. Calhoun and later of his son-in-law, University founder Thomas Green Clemson, is a registered National Historic Landmark located in the center of campus.

The Class of 1944 Visitors Center is the front door to Clemson — a friendly place to get tours, information, assistance and an introduction to this beautiful, historic university and community.

Get job alerts

Create a job alert and receive personalized job recommendations straight to your inbox.

Create alert