The College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resources Sciences (CAHNRS), through the Department of Horticulture, is seeking candidates for a tenure-track, 12-month permanent faculty position to become a core member of our potato research and extension team. The incumbent is expected to develop a high profile and productive research program in the general areas of pre- and postharvest physiology of potato, including storage management and variety development.
Washington State is recognized globally as one of the world’s premier potato-production regions. Potatoes rank third behind apples and wheat as the most valuable crop in WA and together with ID and OR, produces 65% of the nation’s fall potato crop. WA produces approximately 165,000 acres of potatoes annually. Most (87%) of Washington’s crop is long russet cultivars destined for processing into French fries. The potato industry contributes $7.4 billion to the state economy and creates an estimated 35,860 jobs. Approximately 90% of the potato crop is marketed outside the state.
This position is located at the main campus in Pullman, approximately 100 miles from the Columbia Basin, the state’s premier production region for potatoes. Long, warm summer days, cool nights, low precipitation, and well-drained soils make central WA ideal for irrigated potato production. These conditions, coupled with state-of-the-art management systems, enable WA growers to produce the highest yield of potatoes per acre worldwide. The industry is committed to sustainable agricultural practices and conservation of resources. The potato industry annually provides approximately $2 million in competitive funding through the Northwest Potato Research Consortium for projects of interest and value to the industry.
The incumbent will establish a program of research in potato developmental and postharvest physiology in collaboration with the WSU potato management research and extension team and the industry. Developing a research program that incorporates creative and innovative state-of-the-art approaches to defining, understanding, and manipulating crop growth and development to enhance the productivity and quality of potato is expected. The person in this position will establish an internationally recognized research program in potato physiology as it relates to in-season and postharvest management. Possible areas of study include basic processes and mechanisms regulating tuber dormancy, tuberization, flowering, photosynthesis, carbohydrate metabolism, nutrient acquisition, nutrient assimilation/use efficiency, source/sink relationships, plant water relations and use efficiency, and biotic/abiotic stress tolerance.
Additional responsibilities include leading the postharvest phenotyping effort and assisting in the field selection of new varieties in ID, OR, and WA annually for the Northwest Potato Variety Development Program. Relevant skills include in depth knowledge of plant physiology and metabolism, potato growth and development, and postharvest physiology and storage systems. Understanding how abiotic and biotic stresses interact with management inputs to affect postharvest physiology and storability is of vital importance to the potato industry.
The incumbent will collaborate with departmental research and extension faculty in potato agronomy and management systems. On a broader scale, opportunities exist to collaborate with faculty in the departments of plant pathology, entomology, food science, and biosystems engineering at WSU and with university researchers and USDA ARS scientists aligned with the Pacific Northwest Potato Research Consortium to investigate fundamental aspects of potato biology, including interactions with other organisms that affect yield and quality. The incumbent will establish rapport with industry and communicate program results to stakeholders. Access to potato genotypes with varying degrees of resistance to biotic and abiotic stress from the Northwest Potato Variety Development program offers unique opportunities for fundamental research to determine the basis of tolerance/susceptibility to stress.
The successful candidate will be required to seek and secure extramural research funding, contribute scholarly literature, teach and mentor undergraduate and graduate students, and effectively communicate research results to stakeholder groups. Teaching responsibilities include the mentoring and supervision of graduate students, guest lecture modules and a course in the areas of horticultural crop physiology and postharvest systems.
This position complements other Departmental and inter-Departmental programs, and USDA statewide and regional initiatives on potato, such as agronomy, breeding and genetics, variety development, disease resistance, postharvest biology/technology, nutritional enhancement, integrated pest management, and phenomics. The successful applicant will conduct an approved program of research consistent with the mission of the WSU Agricultural Research Center.