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Postdoctoral Researcher – Crop Pathology (Brown Group)

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Researcher to join the Crop Pathology group, to study the impact of globalisation on rust diseases of wheat.

These are growing in importance world-wide and are among the most serious diseases of crops.


The post is in the lab of Professor James Brown, which takes an inter-disciplinary approach to studying durable control of crop diseases, including methods of breeding for durable resistance. It is one of several research groups in plant pathology, which together make the John Innes Centre an outstanding institute for research on crop diseases.

The role

The goals of the project are to understand the role of globalisation in the world-wide increase in rust diseases of wheat, and to develop recommendations for reducing the spread and severity of wheat rusts. These are among the most serious of all crop diseases, threatening food production in many regions of the world.

The project will evaluate global changes in the “disease triangle” and compare their impacts on rusts of wheat. It will examine how the genetic diversity and distribution of rust resistance in wheat varieties have changed, how those changes have affected the potential for the world-wide dispersal of virulent rust fungi to cause epidemics, and how the establishment of rust epidemics has been affected by climate change. The research will examine the extent to which globalisation of food production, plant breeding, trade and travel may have stimulated epidemics of wheat rusts. Conclusions from the work will contribute to a European Union programme on improving rust control in wheat crops.

The postdoctoral researcher will work with a substantial degree of independence to obtain and analyse data relevant to the project from diverse sources in agriculture, social sciences and environmental sciences. The project will involve collaboration with other scientists at the John Innes Centre and other organisations within the RustWatch collaboration supported by the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme. It will also include writing peer-reviewed papers to report the research, helping to train and supervise other scientists, contributing to reports and recommendations, and making presentations at project meetings and research conferences.

The ideal candidate

Reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the project, the successful applicant may have a PhD or equivalent experience in an agricultural science or a social science relevant to agriculture. They will be able to develop novel ideas and define testable hypotheses about the impact of current, large-scale changes in agricultural systems on crop diseases, and identify relevant sources of published data to test those hypotheses. A high level of expertise in data analysis is essential, as are excellent science communication skills, both written and oral.

Knowledge of plant pathology, including breeding for disease resistance, will be particularly helpful, as will knowledge of areas such as travel and transport, climate change or crop genetics.

The appointee will be able to work independently and efficiently with a high degree of initiative, while contributing to the research group and advancing the goals of a multi-organisation collaboration.

Additional information

Salary on appointment will be within the range £31,625 to £38,575 per annum depending on qualifications and experience.  This is a full-time post for a period of 30 months.

We welcome applications from candidates seeking job-share, part-time or other flexible working arrangements.

Click here to find out more about working at the John Innes Centre.

Further information and details of how to apply can be found here, or contact the Human Resources team on 01603 450462 or  quoting reference 1003753.

We are an equal opportunities employer, actively supporting inclusivity and diversity. As a Disability Confident organisation, we guarantee to offer an interview to all disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria for this vacancy. The John Innes Centre is also proud to hold a Gold Award from Athena SWAN and is a member of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme.

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