Job purpose

The Research Associate position will support a PowerPollen® &  BASF collaboration aimed at further developing and applying PowerPollen’s patented pollen preservation and application technology to BASF’s proprietary wheat program.

This Research Associate position will work closely with the leading Scientists on R&D efforts of our wheat focused collaboration.  Key objectives will include:

  • Preserving viability of wheat pollen to levels amenable for commercial use.
  • Development of scalable mechanical tools for wheat pollen handling (co-led with engineering group).

This Research Associate position will support scientific progress toward validation and scaling up for large field applications through:

  • Executing against and enabling company goal achievement through lab, controlled environment/greenhouse and field operations.
  • Collaborating with researchers on both the PowerPollen and BASF teams, to develop protocols to advance our knowledge on plant reproductive physiology.
  • Establish,nurture and maintain relationships with key internal and external stakeholders of both PowerPollen®and BASF.
  • Support and or be involved in the presentation to PowerPollen® and BASF leadership on key areas of accountability, providing insight, lessons learned, enhancements, issues and resolution proposals.

The selected candidate will be based in or near the Des Moines, Iowa metro area with frequent travel to other Midwest regions and areas where wheat is grown.

Primary job duties and responsibilities:

  • Support the scientific lead in a collaboration focused on the development of wheat pollen and pollination technologies.
  • Generate and analyze data to develop understanding of pollen interactions with receptive plant tissues.
  • Conduct data compilation, analysis, and generating technical reports and methods to support development of commercial applications in a timely manner.
  • Maintain relationships with key internal and external stakeholders (including those with both companies involved in the wheat collaboration).
  • Assist with the development and scaling of technologies for commercial deployment and facilitate process up-scaling through management of lab, growth chamber and field activities.

Lab: 

  • Follow safety and aseptic protocols.
  • Accurately calculate, translate and prepare large scale dilutions, and solutions from small concentrations.
  • Utilize best practice laboratory skills to study and prepare cell cultures utilizing germination media, sterilizers, stereoscope, microscope and other related microbiology tools and techniques.
  • Review and understand lab research objectives and protocols before execution
  • Keep detailed record of activities and enter process modifications in laboratory notebooks.
  • Collaborate with other team members in complex projects synchronizing activities for best use of resources.
  • Produce reports and data summaries

Field: 

  • Follow safety protocols and positively encourage other team members to do the same.
  • Review and understand field research objectives and protocols before execution.
  • Ensure experimental methods are followed properly by field crews.
  • Closely work with local field operations personnel to identify, source, secure and manage field workers.
  • Ensure testing grounds and genotypes are adequate for the company’s larger and increasing testing and demonstration activities
  • Help design, implement and monitor process with collaborators including;logistics and materials receipt and transfer.
  • Oversee management of the plant sample collection processes including: team/crew logistics, safety, equipment availability and operation, activity timing, scheduling and administrative coordination.
  • Coordinate plant sample collection, storage and manipulation.
  • Keep detailed record of activities and produce reports and data summaries

Growth Chambers:

  • Monitor and maintain plant health and viability by overseeing: water, fertilize, pest control, plant disposal, supply availability and replenishment.
  • Maintain growth chambers including; lighting, canopy glass, chamber cleanliness, climate control and coordination with outsourced mechanical climate control vendor.
  • Chamber maintenance including; compressor cleaning, painting, cabinet cleanliness.
  • May drive a forklift or a truck to perform growth chamber related duties.

Qualifications:

  • Positive and driven, with a problem-solving attitude
  • Experience working in a start-up environment or experience and genuine interest in working in a rapidly evolving and changing atmosphere including comfort working with assigned areas of responsibility as well as helping others in their areas of expertise as needed.
  • BS degree plus some entry level experience in a science related role, wheat related is advantageous.
  • Experience with plant cell analytical methods including flow cytometry, mass spec; single cell viability testing, and enzyme activity quantification. Familiarity with instrumental analysis.
  • Relevant experience with isolating, culturing, and freezing cells will be an advantage.
  • Demonstrated capability to quickly establish and nurture relationships with key stakeholders including ability to influence, negotiate and reach mutually beneficial outcomes.
  • Skill in common agricultural practices, including management of field crops, and controlled environment facilities. Mechanical aptitude for making adjustments and identification of issues that require external support.
  • Resourceful:  able to build and maintain a network allowing for continued advancement and scaling of company capabilities
  • Previous experience overseeing teams, crews including employees and contracted labor.
  • Highly organized, capable of seeing a barrier or issue as an opportunity to overcome a challenge in the delivery of excellent results.
  • Self-motivation and independent drive with an ability to work with highly effective teams
  • Capable and interested in working in an environment that includes indoor lab conditions and outdoor agricultural conditions throughout the year.
  • Willingness to travel with potential for some extended travel periods throughout the year.
  • PowerPollen will not sponsor an H-1B visa for this position.

Working conditions

This position will work in varying conditions including normal laboratory setting to typical in-season agricultural environment.  This includes working in crop fields when weather conditions are extremely hot/humid and insects are present and long periods of standing/walking may be required.

Physical requirements

The position involves physical activity including lifting objects up to 50 pounds, walking on uneven terrain, ability to tolerate heat and humidity typical of local field conditions, with extended hours that will vary with crop development in different locales.

PowerPollen® is an equal opportunity employer.

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