At Unfold, we are specifically focused on the vertical farming industry and its unique growing requirements. Putting taste, color, texture, flavor, nutrition (and more) is at the center of our seed development. Together, we are seekers and explorers on the roads of reimagination. Unfold welcomes others who love feeding their own curiosity as much as they thrive on feeding the world. Join us in pushing the boundaries of what’s possible tomorrow by working hard on what can be done today – with hope. 

The Plant Phenotyping Scientist position offers a unique opportunity for a creative individual to lead the development and refinement of the plant phenotyping efforts with an initial focus on leafy vegetables in Unfold’s state-of-the-art, high-tech vertical farm (VF) R&D set-up. The individual will work with breeders and physiologists to lead phenotyping of commercial varieties and breeding trials including logistics, phenotyping protocol development & validation, data capture, and data analysis on to the company owned databases, ensuring the data meets the quality standards in a timely fashion. The individual will support and improvise the data capture from the automated phenotyping solutions/platforms tools that will be deployed at the vertical farm. This position is full-time exempt, based in Davis CA, and reports to the Vegetable Breeding Lead. This role is highly collaborative and requires a demonstrated ability to coordinate projects with cross-functional teams, in addition to independently design and execute experiments to meet project goals. This individual will be an integral part of the breeding team and will contribute directly to the vegetable crop varieties targeted for vertical farming. 

Major Responsibilities

  • Develop protocols for efficient phenotyping of a sizable germplasm collection in a hi-tech vertical farm (VF) set-up.
  • In close collaboration with Unfold breeding leadership, lead all onsite operations of phenotyping germplasm, with the goal to support Unfold’s ability to identify superior lines for advancement in the breeding pipeline.
  • Identify and implement phenotyping process improvements to maximize efficiency without compromising data quality. Troubleshoot and assist protocol iterations, and proactively find ways to increase efficiency and automate processes as applicable.
  • Collaborate with facility lead/grower to facilitate efficient trial planning and placement in the VF facility, sharing of ideas and techniques and quick response to issues that may arise.
  • Be the Unfold champion to identify, develop, and implement new phenotyping protocols and data capture tools and methods.  Maintain a keen awareness of the scientific literature and prior art in this space and make appropriate recommendations for innovation, acquisition, or collaboration to breeding leadership.
  • Conduct trials under other controlled environment such as growth chambers to manipulate flowering and advancing breeding cycles rapidly.
  • Establish good rapport with colleagues across the technical and business spectrum of Unfold.
  • In close collaboration with the breeding lead, ensure data collection and selections are done in a timely manner.  In collaboration with digital team, ensure that data from protocols and platforms can be readily absorbed into Unfold’s data ecosystems.
  • Self-motivation for exploration, and out of the box thinking is critical.

equired Qualifications

  • A PhD in Plant biology/physiology/crop science or related discipline, or a Master of Science with minimum of 2 years of relevant research experience, or BS with minimum of 6 years of relevant research experience.
  • Direct experience in agricultural/plant science research is required, with experience in a growth chamber/growth chamber and green house breeding program being highly beneficial.
  • Past experience with digital data collection methods & platforms in the context of a plant breeding program.
  • Strong statistical acumen and working familiarity with statistical analysis software & methods
  • Excellent interpersonal and organization skills, and attention to detail are required.
  • Proficient with computers and MS software, database software is required.
  • Possess a strong work ethic, self- motivation, and spirit of creativity & innovation.
  • Must be well organized, able to communicate effectively and possess attention to detail
  • Ability and willingness to travel (international and domestic) as necessary to support Unfold

Desired Qualifications

  • Familiarity with controlled environment growing is highly desirable
  • Familiarity and/or experience with developing or implementing automated phenotyping methods
  • Ability and willingness to learn multiple computer software programs for data collection and retrieval

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