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Potato Physiologist Faculty Position

Images of potatoes and researchs
The Opportunity

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.

WSU Position #130958


Potato Physiologist


Assistant or Associate Professor 12-month, full-time, tenure-track position


Washington State University

Pullman, WA


Competitive salary commensurate with qualifications, training and    experience; excellent benefits


June/July, negotiable

Qualifications Required:

  • Earned Ph.D. in Horticulture or a closely-related discipline at time of hire
  • Evidence of ability to lead and manage a research program focused on potato physiology
  • Demonstrated record of scholarly accomplishments in basic and applied plant physiology commensurate with career level


  • Demonstrated ability to communicate (oral, written, electronic) effectively with technical and nontechnical audiences
  • Demonstrated ability to conduct original research in potato physiology and management and experience in field-level research
  • Ability or capacity to teach/mentor undergraduate and graduate students
  • Demonstrated record of or capacity to acquire and/or manage extramural competitive grant support
  • Knowledge of potato production and post-harvest management systems
  • Extensive knowledge of state-of-the-art techniques applicable to plant biology/physiology research
  • Ability to work effectively with interdisciplinary teams composed of multiple institutions, stakeholders and commodity groups.

In partnership with Washington State’s potato industry, Washington State University strives to be the world leader in potato research and education.  Today, WSU’s potato research effort includes approximately 14 faculty who dedicate much of their time and effort to potato research and extension.  These faculty span seven academic disciplines – horticulture, biological systems engineering, entomology, plant pathology, crop and soil science, food science, and agricultural economics – and are located on the main Pullman campus, at three research and extension centers, and in regional extension units.  This effort is supplemented with the activities of scientists and personnel in the USDA-ARS IAREC (Prosser and Wapato) and the Washington Potato Commission (Moses Lake).

Field research capabilities for this faculty position are located near Othello, WA. WSU is committed to advancing its potato research, extension and education programs with recent investments in this faculty position and personnel and infrastructure at the WSU Othello Research Unit.  The research station has state-of-the-art farm operation equipment (including planting, irrigation, harvesting, grading, and storage facilities) purchased by the various projects involved in potato research.  New linear-move and center pivot irrigation systems with GPS-guided variable rate technology (VRI) were installed in 2013 as a gift from the Washington State Potato Commission (WSPC) in partnership with WSU’s Agricultural Research Center (CAHNRS) to specifically support the potato research program.  In 2015, the WSPC gifted a new auto-steering, GPS-guided diesel tractor with climate-controlled cab in support of potato research.  These gifts, along with the continuing support from the WSPC and the Northwest Potato Research Consortium, positions WSU among the elite research institutions in the nation for potato research.


Screening of application materials begins March 9, 2020; open until filled.  To apply visit:  Applications must include the following materials:  1) a cover letter of application addressing, in distinct sections, all the required and preferred qualifications for the position (including your areas of expertise and research interests), 2) a statement of vision and goals for the position that describes how your program would serve the needs of the Pacific Northwest potato industry; 3) a current curriculum vitae, 4) electronic copies of graduate program academic transcripts, and 5) names and contact information for four professional references.  Reference letters will be requested for the finalists.

For questions about the position contact:  Dr. Mark J. Pavek, Chair, Search Committee:  509-335-6861,


Pullman offers a friendly, small-town atmosphere with a high quality of life and connected community.  Located 80 miles south of metropolitan Spokane, Pullman is also a quick drive away from the scenic Idaho panhandle and Moscow Mountain.  The rolling hills of the Palouse offer a wide range of outdoor activities and a true four-season climate.  The area provides ample opportunity to enjoy the cultural and academic hub of both Washington State University and the University of Idaho, in the neighboring town of Moscow, Idaho.  Additionally, Pullman has an excellent public school system and was recently ranked by Bloomberg Business as the best small town in Washington to raise children.

To learn more about the Pullman community, visit:


WSU is committed to excellence through diversity, has faculty friendly policies including a partner accommodation program, and a NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant (see

WSU employs only US citizens and lawfully authorized non-US citizens. All new employees must show employment eligibility verification as required by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Washington State University is committed to providing access and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, activities, education and employment for individuals with disabilities. To request disability accommodation in the application process, contact Human Resource Services: 509-335-4521(v), Washington State TDD Relay Service: Voice Callers: 1-800-833-6384, TDD Callers: 1-800-833-6388, 509-335-1259(f), or