Postdoctoral Research Position in Tropical Plant Pathology

Published by Cori VanGalder on

The Plant Diagnostic Clinic at the Tropical Research and Education Center (, located 35 miles south of Miami, Florida, is seeking a highly motivated postdoctoral researcher to work on a project recently funded by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) titled “Improving Dragon Fruit Production in Florida: Reducing Economic Losses by Developing Science-Based Disease Management Recommendations”

The successful candidate will work cooperatively with the Principal Investigator (Dr. Romina Gazis), Co-PIs (Drs. Jonathan Crane and Shouan Zhang), as well as in conjunction with other investigators. The candidate must have the ability to work effectively in a team environment and will be expected to mentor graduate students and coordinate activities with program technicians. The postdoc will also be expected to help oversee other program activities associated with the Plant Diagnostic Clinic, including the routine diagnosis of tropical fruit diseases.

The successful candidate will work with the PIs to design and conduct experiments, collect and analyze project data, prepare progress reports and manuscripts, and engage in extension activities to educate stakeholders on the research. This project entails laboratory work (culture and molecular-based), laboratory and greenhouse experiments with potted plants, and field experiments.

A Ph.D. in plant pathology, mycology, or a related field is required. The candidate is expected to design and conduct statistically valid research using appropriate statistical methods and software packages (SAS, R, SPSS). The candidate should have experience working with fungi, conducting research in laboratory, greenhouse and field environments, and performing contemporary molecular biology and microscopy necessary for making an accurate diagnosis. Experience in molecular diagnostic techniques (primer development, immuno-assays) and fungicide efficacy testing would be beneficial, but not required. The candidate will have opportunities to pursue research on other diseases of horticultural crops (tropical fruits, ornamental and landscape plants) and grant writing. The candidate should provide evidence of effective communication skills in verbal and written English.

Minimum qualifications include:

  • PhD in plant pathology, mycology, or related field
  • Evidence of scientific productivity in the form of peer-reviewed publications
  • Strong scientific writing and communication skills
  • Ability to work independently as well as a productive member of a team, including mentoring experience

This is a full-time, 12-month research appointment. The position will remain open until filled. The start date for this position is January 10th2020. The initial appointment is for one year with the possibility of renewal upon acceptable progress toward project goals. Salary starts at $47,476 and includes benefits.

Interested applicants should email the following to Dr. Romina Gazis at: Short-listed individuals will be contacted.

  • A brief cover letter outlining your background relevant to the project
  • A current CV detailing how you meet the minimum criteria with a list of 3 potential references and their contact information

For more information about UF-TREC-PDC:

Project Summary:

Florida’s dragon fruit production has expanded rapidly during the past 15 years. A recent survey estimated over 720 acres of dragon fruit; grown in at least five counties. New growers and local farmers seeking alternatives to citrus and avocado have adopted dragon fruit because it grows well in this region and has a high investment return. Along with the increase in acreage, there has been an increase in the diversity and incidence of diseases that affect vines, roots, and fruit. One of the main challenges facing the industry and research and extension faculty is rapid identification of the disease pathogens and availability of disease control products. 

General tasks to be performed include: (1) catalog and characterize diseases affecting dragon fruit production in Miami-Dade County at different seasons, developmental stages and grove age; (2) develop detached stem and fruit inoculation assays to document disease progress; (3) test the efficacy of selected pesticide active ingredients on selected disease agents; (4) develop educational material, including extension publications and field guides, that are easily accessible to growers; (5) offer seminars, workshops, and field days to inform current and potential dragon fruit producers of the results of the project and recommendations on crop management. This project will mitigate the economic losses in dragon fruit production by increasing grower’s awareness of the diseases affecting their crop and by developing scientifically-based practical recommendations. In addition, results obtained here will constitute the baseline for further research regarding pesticide efficacy.