Research Assistant III, Plant Architecture - Plant Biology Laboratory, Dr. Wolfgang Busch

  • Salk Institute for Biological Studies
  • 10010 North Torrey Pines Road San Diego, CA
Full Time Agriculture Research Science

Job Description


The CRoPS project aims to develop crop plants that sequester more carbon via extensive root systems containing recalcitrant carbon polymers to fight climate change. A major component of this research is to phenotype plant traits for conducting genetic analysis and confirm trait changes of genetic changes.

The Research Asst III will supervise at least one Research Asst I, and work with other members of the CRoPS project and the Busch laboratory to conduct screen root traits to identify genetic mechanisms that lead to optimal root systems for carbon sequestration, and assess phenotypes of genetically engineered crop plants. The Research Assistant III is responsible for conducting large-scale phenotyping screens, as well as phenotyping of specific genotypes and lines in the support of the research goals of HPI. Phenotyping will use advanced methods such as 3D imaging and root X-ray CT. Range of duties will include, but is not limited to: conducting procedures, modifying procedures as needed, data collection and analysis, plant growth, tissue culture, and laboratory maintenance. Works on problems in which analysis of situations or data requires an in-depth evaluation of various factors.  Exercises judgement within broadly defined practices and policies in selecting methods, techniques, and evaluation criteria for obtaining results. Work is done under periodic supervision of a lab coordinator and the PI.



(80%) Plant growth, phenotyping and phenotype data analysis

  • Conducting assays on plants to measure plant traits
  • Troubleshoot or optimize assays
  • organization of strains and strain collections for phenotyping
  • using image and data analyses software to analyze plant phenotypes
  • store and organize research data

(20%) Lab Support

  • Assist PI and lab organizer in organizing lab
  • Assist in maintenance and creation of lab databases
  • Assist in ordering general lab supplies and preparing stocks and reagents for common use when needed
  • Attend lab meetings and assist in general problem solving
  • Prepare PowerPoint slides detailing results for presentation
  • Train new lab members on scientific protocols and use of lab databases
  • Supervise and instruct RA I for phenotyping and other lab activities




  • Minimum 4 years of experience with laboratory techniques.
  • Demonstrated experience with plant phenotyping
  • Experience analyzing and interpreting data


  • Experience with advanced image based phenotyping (e.g. CT , laser scanning)
  • Experience with one or more of following plant species (corn, wheat, rice, canola, soybean, radish, clover, sorghum)
  • Experience with plant histology




  • Bachelor's degree in biological science or equivalent


  • Master’s degree in biological sciences.




  • Theoretical and hands on knowledge of plant biology and phenotyping.
  • Ability to perform complex experiments and techniques with high levels of reliability and accuracy within time constraints.
  • Demonstrated ability to conduct and oversee independent research. This includes the ability to (a) develop, maintain, execute, and complete research projects of varying size and scope; (b) critically read, understand, and extract information from published medical, chemical, and biological literature to prepare background information for scientific abstracts, manuscripts, lectures, and grant proposals; (c) perform basic data and statistical analysis;
  • Ability to independently design experiments and debug protocols.
  • Ability to manage and track large numbers of samples meticulously without mixup or cross contamination.
  • Demonstrated ability to prioritize and work independently.
  • Skill in the operation and maintenance of various lab equipment.
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently, prioritize work and independently manage multiple, diverse and competing priorities while meeting deadlines; plan and develop meaningful objectives; and integrate multiple work initiatives into the overall department goals.
  • Demonstrated knowledge and experience in researching information and analyzing data to arrive at valid conclusions, recommendations, and plans of action.



  • Must be willing to work in an animal-related research environment.
  • Must be willing to work an adjusted schedule to support research needs.
  • Successful completion of the Institute’s background investigation.
  • Must be willing to sign a confidentiality agreement. 



This position requires constant handling, seeing, sitting, touching/feeling, analyzing, calculating, reasoning, and working inside. 

Equal Opportunity Employer/Protected Veterans/Individuals with Disabilities

The contractor will not discharge or in any other manner discriminate against employees or applicants because they have inquired about, discussed, or disclosed their own pay or the pay of another employee or applicant. However, employees who have access to the compensation information of other employees or applicants as a part of their essential job functions cannot disclose the pay of other employees or applicants to individuals who do not otherwise have access to compensation information, unless the disclosure is (a) in response to a formal complaint or charge, (b) in furtherance of an investigation, proceeding, hearing, or action, including an investigation conducted by the employer, or (c) consistent with the contractor’s legal duty to furnish information. 41 CFR 60-1.35(c)


General Science

Education Requirements

Bachelor's Degree


Depending on Experience and Education

Requisition Number