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Scientific Assistant Senior

Washington State University
Mt. Vernon, WA

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Employment Type
Full Time
Institution Type
Four-Year Institution

Job Details

Available Title(s):

1160-NN_ADMINPRO - Scientific Assistant Senior

Business Title:

Scientific Assistant Senior

Employee Type:

Admin. Professional (+) (Fixed Term)

Time Type:

Full time

Position Term:

12 Month

Position Details:

Summary of Duties:
Perform senior level work in field, greenhouse, and laboratory research related to vegetable pathology/seed pathology in small-seeded vegetable crops in Washington and the greater Pacific Northwest. Identify and define research problems, design experimental approaches/methods, utilize appropriate plant pathology research methods and plant disease inoculations/evaluations. Accurately record and compile data, and complete robust statistical data analyses. Interpret data analyses and summarize results in relevant tables/graphs/reports. Present research in publishable forms. Work effectively independently and as part of the Vegetable Seed Pathology Program. Perform molecular plant pathology laboratory techniques, including molecular identification of plant pathogens. Supervise time-slip employees, and undergraduate and graduate interns; and help advise other staff in the Vegetable Seed Pathology program as well as mentor graduate students and other technical staff at the WSU Mount Vernon NWREC on plant pathology techniques. Assist Postdoctoral Research Associates in the Vegetable Seed Pathology Program. Interact constructively with stakeholders and the WSU Mount Vernon NWREC community.

Due to the environment in which the person in this position will be working, the person must be willing to work outdoors under a range of weather conditions, and with a diversity of crops, plant pathogens, arthropod pests, and natural enemies. The person must be willing to travel to field trial sites in Washington, including in central Washington, and occasionally to other states, with overnight stays. The person must be willing to work in conventional and organic agricultural production systems. The person must be willing to work with or in the vicinity of lab and agricultural chemicals for which appropriate safety measures, equipment, and training are provided.

Experiment Documentation, Statistical Analyses, Research Publications, and Presentations | 25%

Document experimental evidence using various instruments, photographic, and computer resources. Apply appropriate experimental designs in implementing research trials. Analyze and interpret experimental data using relevant statistical analyses and computer software (including SAS and R), and develop graphs, tables, and reports for research publications using relevant software (e.g., Excel, PowerPoint, SigmaPlot, and Word). Complete searches of literature, assimilate technical information, prepare drafts of manuscripts for research and extension publications, and fulfill relevant co-author responsibilities. Prepare summaries of research projects for reports and publications (research and Extension), and present results at relevant meetings, field days, and conferences.

Laboratory, Greenhouse, and Field Equipment Operation | 25%

Operate, calibrate, and maintain relevant plant pathology laboratory equipment and instruments (e.g., autoclaves, balances, centrifuges, electrophoresis units, incubators, laminar flow hoods/biological safety cabinets, microscopes, pH meters, water baths, beadbeaters, molecular laboratory equipment, etc.). Drive tractors and operate other relevant farm and greenhouse equipment; calibrate seeders and drills, irrigation devices, fertilizer injection systems, and other field equipment needed for plant pathology trials. Apply pesticides (fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides) as needed in field and greenhouse environments, and calibrate pesticide applicator equipment. Follow established safe handling procedures when working with chemicals and equipment. Install, use, and maintain dataloggers and spore traps for monitoring environmental conditions and dispersal of plant pathogens in relation to diseases affecting crops. Maintain cleanliness and safety of laboratories. Follow established safe handling procedures when working with chemicals and equipment.

Research Experiment Design, Implementation, and Program Oversight | 30%

Design, implement, maintain, and evaluate experimental field, greenhouse, growth chamber, and laboratory experiments in plant pathology. Develop new methods and investigative assays and test their reliability experimentally. Document experimental evidence using various instruments, as well as photographic and computer resources. Work with diverse bacterial, fungal, oomycete, viral, and nematode pathogens of vegetable and seed crops including techniques for isolation, culture, and inoculation. Oversee common-use equipment in the Core Molecular Lab at the WSU Mount Vernon NWREC, including training new graduate students, technical staff, and visiting scientists on safe and effective use of the equipment. Maintain the inventories of lab, greenhouse, and field supplies for the Vegetable Seed Pathology program, and order supplies in a timely manner. Maintain the Vegetable Seed Pathology Program’s culture collection and collection database, and keep effective records for long-term access by members of the Vegetable Seed Pathology program. Perform microscope-based identification of fungal plant pathogens, characterization of biological and physical attributes of fungal and bacterial plant pathogens, and perform molecular procedures, such as PCR and quantitative PCR assays, genotyping using microsatellite markers, analyzing DNA sequence data, and performing DNA and RNA extractions in a research setting. Follow all Standard Operating Procedures and policies to maintain relevant laboratory permits (e.g., BSL2 lab certification, and USDA APHIS PPQ 526 permits for receiving domestic and international shipments of specific plant pathogen cultures/samples).

Supervision and Other Duties | 20%

Contribute to constructive citizenship for the Vegetable Seed Pathology program, the WSU Mount Vernon NWREC, the Department of Plant Pathology, and the greater WSU community by serving on relevant committees, including search committees, engaging in relevant professional development (including attending grower and professional meetings), and contributing to a positive work environment. Supervise and train time-slip employees, interns, undergraduate and graduate students, and postdoctorates; coordinate work with other employees, and maintain good relations with employees, other research and extension programs, stakeholders, and the public. Perform other duties as assigned. Complete orientation for new employees, oversee worker safety, training, and evaluation of employees’ skills for assigning work accordingly. Schedule and report hours of work, establish goals for work to be performed, monitor work completed, report progress/problems, make hiring and dismissal recommendations to the Vegetable Seed Pathology program leader.

Required Qualifications:

A Master’s degree in an appropriate related scientific or engineering discipline and four (4) years of progressively responsible related professional research experience. A PhD in a scientific or engineering field may be substituted for up to two (2) years of the required work experience. Any combination of relevant education and professional experience may be substituted for the educational requirement on a year‐for‐year basis.

  • Required Master’s degree must be in plant pathology or closely related scientific discipline.

  • Two years of the required work experience must have been within the field of plant pathology, or a closely related scientific discipline.

  • Experience with field, laboratory, and greenhouse research experiments in plant pathology, and experience operating plant pathology laboratory and greenhouse instrumentation.

  • Experience in molecular laboratory techniques (including ELISA, DNA/RNA extraction, regular and real-time PCR assays, DNA or RNA sequencing for microbial identification, including multilocus sequence analysis and phylogenetic analysis).

  • Experience with effective use of dissecting and compound microscopes.

  • Knowledge of fundamental plant pathology principles, and experience applying those principles in a research environment.

  • The ability to carry out research projects using appropriate experimental designs and techniques.

  • Must have a valid driver’s license and at least 2 years of driving experience at time of hire.

  • Willing and able to obtain a WSDA pesticide applicator’s license within 3 months of hire.

  • Ability to work cooperatively with others and follow established protocols.

  • Ability to communicate effectively in written and spoken English.

  • Effective interpersonal skills (written and oral), including demonstrated collaboration with coworkers and the public, and the ability to listen and effectively handle employee questions, concerns, and problems.

  • Willingness and ability to travel, with overnight stays to: a) research plots located off-station, including to central/eastern Washington and neighboring states, and b) professional meetings and workshops (in-state, out-of-state, and occasionally international). Willingness to travel to isolated sites.

  • Willingness to work in the laboratory, office, and experimental field and greenhouse sites for the Vegetable Seed Pathology program at the WSU Mount Vernon NWREC, including working in conditions with dust, fumes, and excessive noise for which relevant PPE are provided.

  • Ability to meet physical demands of the position, including: lift/carry up to 30 lb and pull/push up to 30lb repetitively; and bend, twist, squat, climb, kneel/crawl, reach (including overhead), sit, drive, and use fine dexterity/manipulation frequently.

  • Evidence of quality research publications in peer-reviewed journals.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Experience with seed pathology methods and research, including seed quality assays and seed health testing.

  • Experience operating various types of farm machinery used in research, particularly plant pathology research.

  • Experience in diagnosis of fungal, bacterial, and viral plant diseases (preferably vegetable pathogens).

  • Experience with microscope photography.

Additional Information:


College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS)

Department Name:

Plant Pathology

City, State, Zip:

Mount Vernon, WA, 98273

Department Link:

Monthly Salary:

$5,139.79 – $7,872.33

In accordance with RCW 49.58.110, the above salary reflects the full salary range for this position. Individual placement within the range is based on the candidate’s current experience, education, skills, and abilities related to the position.

For more information regarding Administrative Professional (AP) Compensation at Washington State University (WSU), please visit the following website:

WSU offers a comprehensive benefits package which includes paid sick and vacation leave; paid holidays; medical, dental, life and disability insurance package for employees and dependents; retirement; deferred compensation and optional supplemental retirement accounts.

For a more detailed summary of benefits offered by WSU for AP staff visit:

Find total compensation information here:



Temporary End Date:

This is a 12-month, temporary position with renewal contingent upon satisfactory performance and availability of funding.

Posting Close Date:

Applicants must submit their completed application by July 10, 2024 at 11:59 p.m.

Background Check:

This position has been designated by the department to require a background check because it requires access to children or vulnerable adults as defined by RCW 74.34, engages in law enforcement, requires security clearance, interacts with WSU students in a counseling or advising capacity, has access to personal identifying and/or financial information, unsupervised access to university buildings/property, or other business-related need. A background check will not be completed until an initial determination of qualification for employment has been made.

Application Instructions:

External candidates, please upload all documents in the “Resume/CV” section of your application. Internal candidates, please upload all documents in the “Resume/Cover Letter” section of your application.

Required Documents:

Applicants must upload the following required documents to their online application.

1) Resume/CV

2) Cover Letter

WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY/AFFIRMATIVE ACTION EDUCATOR AND EMPLOYER. Members of ethnic minorities, women, special disabled veterans, veterans of the Vietnam-era, recently separated veterans, and other protected veteran, persons of disability and/or persons age 40 and over are encouraged to apply.

WSU employs only U.S. citizens and lawfully authorized non-U.S. citizens. All new employees must show employment eligibility verification as required by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

WSU is committed to providing access and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, activities, education and employment for individuals with disabilities. To request disability accommodation in the application process, contact Human Resource Services: 509-335-4521 (v), Washington State TDD Relay Service: Voice Callers: 1-800-833-6384; TDD Callers: 1-800-833-6388, 509-335-1259(f), or


Working at Washington State University

Founded as the people’s university, WSU embraces its land-grant heritage, seeking to transform lives through education, research, and community engagement and service. The University has been delivering life-changing knowledge and discoveries to the state, region, nation, and the world for nearly 130 years. WSU enjoys productive partnerships with major industries in the state, including agribusiness, aerospace, health care, software, technology, and construction. The colleges at WSU Health Sciences Spokane have formed robust partnerships across the state of Washington, both with large medical centers and hospitals, as well as a variety of rural and community hospitals and clinics.

WSU is Washington’s land-grant university with campuses located statewide in Everett, Pullman, Spokane, Tri-Cities, Vancouver, and online through the Global Campus. WSU also has research centers located throughout the state and extension offices in every county. Learn about WSU’s statewide reach.

WSU employees promote academic excellence and innovative research with nationally recognized academic programs, renowned professors, students who make a difference, and vibrant communities.

WSU offers staff and faculty a comprehensive benefits package as well as professional development and a host of work/life quality programs. Explore WSU’s benefits.

Review the application instructions for instructions and tips on using the WSU Jobs site and applying for jobs at WSU.

WSU is Washington’s land-grant university with campuses located statewide in Everett, Pullman, Spokane, Tri-Cities, Vancouver, and online through the Global Campus. WSU also has research centers located throughout the state and extension offices in every county. Learn about WSU’s statewide reach.

WSU employees promote academic excellence and innovative research with nationally recognized academic programs, renowned professors, students who make a difference, and vibrant communities.

WSU offers staff and faculty a comprehensive benefits package as well as professional development and a host of work/life quality programs. Explore WSU’s benefits.

Review the application instructions for instructions and tips on using the WSU Jobs site and applying for jobs at WSU.

Diversity Profile: Washington State University

As a land-grant institution, diversity, equity, and inclusion serve as core values and beliefs of Washington State University (WSU). At the university, college, or department level, WSU is committed to fostering open, proactive dialogue to create a more inclusive culture at all its locations including the five physical campuses and its online Global Campus, as well as its 39 Extension offices, four research centers, and 25 small business development centers.

Core Belief

WSU is committed to achieving an ethical and socially just society for all. Instituting social change on a large scale begins at home with system-level policies that actively promote equity. The University is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout every aspect of its statewide system. We strive to create a climate that enables underrepresented students, faculty, and staff to thrive in communities that foster a sense of belonging in a culture of inclusion. The ultimate goal? Creation of institutional culture in which inclusion and equity are the norms, a model that helps move the world toward a place in which all people are treated with dignity and respect.

Core Value

Equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging. Promotion of an ethical and socially just society through an intentional commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion.

WSU’s core ideology can be found in its System Strategic Plan. 

WSU’s Student Body

WSU's student body statewide is ethnically diverse: 31 percent of our students are underrepresented minorities, and first-generation students represent nearly 33 percent of the total enrollment. About 15 percent of WSU students hail from outside the state of Washington and about 7 percent are international students. System-wide enrollment reached a record 31,607 students in fall 2019.

Associate Vice Provost for Inclusive Excellence Recently Announced

Dr. Lisa Guerrero was recently named associate vice provost for inclusive excellence. Guerrero has been an active advocate for diversity and inclusion since joining the WSU faculty in 2004. She is currently a professor of Comparative Ethnic Studies in WSU’s School of Languages, Cultures, and Race. She will maintain her faculty position, while serving as associate vice provost in a half-time appointment.

Dr. Guerrero will provide leadership to academic affairs in implementing WSU’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. She will help to identify and implement best practices and evidence-based approaches in faculty hiring, tenure and promotion, research support, faculty retention, teaching and mentoring, and curriculum planning. One of her first areas of responsibility will be to oversee the Racism and Social Inequality in the Americas faculty cluster hire program for Fall 2021.

Representative Affinity Groups

Representative affinity groups within the Washington State University system include the following:

WSU Resources and Offices

WSU Human Resource Services supports a climate of integrity and equity that actively reflects open, respectful dialog. Additional resources are available on the Human Resource Services website.

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