Postdoctoral Position in Genetic Variation of Oat Seed Metabolome at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

The position is in the Plant Breeding and Genetics Section at Cornell University, and is part of a USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative grant to breed more nutritious oat. Oat is uniquely valued among grain crops for the health-promoting composition of its seeds. The project leverages extensive genomic, transcriptomic, and metabolomic datasets collected in oat to understand its seed metabolome and provide breeders effective tools to change it.

The Plant Breeding & Genetics Section, within the School of Integrative Plant Science, trains interdisciplinary scientists in the elaboration of new breeding methods, the discovery of genetic mechanisms important for economically important traits, and the creation of genetic stocks, germplasm, and varieties. We promote a collaborative and interactive workspace to improve learning, cross connectivity, and mutual support between basic and applied researchers. Cornell University plant breeders are world leaders in innovative plant breeding research, teaching, and extension, and we collaborate globally.

The Jannink lab works with several crop species (wheat, oat, barley, cassava, and the brown algae sugar kelp) to develop genomic prediction methods and integrate them optimally into breeding schemes. We work together to discover, build on, and share new ideas and tools from across computational disciplines that lead to successful applied breeding outcomes. With the Jannink lab, Dr. Michael Gore and Dr. Mark Sorrells provide leadership on the multiomic oat selection project.

In research for this project, the postdoc will collaborate with oat breeders at Universities in Minnesota, Wisconsin and South Dakota, as well as a postdoctoral associate currently working on the project. We have characterized an oat diversity panel of 384 genotypes with high-density DNA marker data, RNA-seq gene expression data, and non-targeted LC-MS, GC-MS, and targeted fatty acid methyl ester data of mature oat seed. We will analyze these data to identify important genomic drivers of the mature oat seed metabolome. We will test whether results from this analysis can improve prediction accuracy in a series of 18 biparental crosses. We will also sequence a population of 1,500 oat TILLING (Targeted Induced Local Lesions In Genomes) lines at putative causal loci to determine if their metabolomes are indeed affected.

We seek a candidate with metabolomics expertise and interest in systems biology analysis methods. This expertise will be put to use in two ways. The postdoc will interpret findings from linear models fit to the output of metabolomic assays by leveraging knowledge of biochemical pathways important during seed maturation and connecting this knowledge to gene expression data. The postdoc will also contribute to the design of analyses that incorporate metabolomic knowledge as prior information to strengthen signal from genetic variation and enable its analysis in non-linear models

Term is one year renewable to three years contingent on performance.

Anticipated Division of Time
Field work, sample prep, data collection 25%
Metabolomic data analysis and interpretation 30%
Writing 30%
Training of lab members and collaborators in metabolomics 15%

Position Requirements
Ph.D. in plant biochemistry or metabolomics with experience or interest in genetic applications, or Ph.D. in plant or animal breeding with emphasis on biochemistry, metabolomics, or nutritional science. Proven scientific writing ability and communication skills.

Preferred Specific Skills
Genome-wide association studies and genomic prediction methods. High-dimensional data analysis. Programming skills in R or other quantitative / statistical scripting. Basic bioinformatics skills (sequence alignment, use of gene annotations). Basic notions of mating designs in breeding.

How to Apply
Candidates should send a statement of interest, curriculum vitae, contact information for three references and a statement of diversity, equity and inclusion. Submit all application materials to Academic Jobs Online at Questions about the position can be addressed to Dr. Michael Gore at: . Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.

Diversity and Inclusion are a part of Cornell University’s heritage. We are a recognized employer and educator valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and Individuals with Disabilities.

Application Materials Required:
Submit the following items online at to complete your application:
Cover Letter
Curriculum Vitae
Three References (no actual letters, just names and email addresses)
And anything else requested in the position description.

Further Info:

School of Integrative Plant Science
Section of Plant Breeding and Genetics
Cornell University
Plant Science Building, Room 358
Ithaca, NY 14853

Time remaining: 6%
19/07/2020 (1 week)