Assistant Professor - Plant Pathology

Cornell University
Geneva, New York
see job description
Closing date
Jan 7, 2024

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Assistant Professor, Tenure-track

Cohort Hire: Revolutionizing Controlled Environment Agriculture

Focus: Plant Pathology

School of Integrative Plant Science, Cornell University


Location: Cornell AgriTech, Geneva, NY 14456. The academic home for this position is in the School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS) in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, housed on both the Ithaca and Geneva campuses of Cornell University


The School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS) in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at Cornell University invites applications for a tenure-track position in Plant Pathology (Controlled Environment Agriculture; CEA) at the Assistant Professor level. Our new colleague will join a Cohort Faculty Hire in Revolutionizing Controlled Environment Agriculture.


The CALS Roadmap to 2050 identified Transdisciplinary Moonshots - opportunities for the CALS community to collaborate on future-focused, cross-disciplinary scientific breakthroughs and to align research, education, and extension programs for greater impact and stronger connectivity. The Moonshot areas build upon core strengths in CALS, spanning the agricultural, life, environmental and social sciences, with the goal of recruiting 27 faculty into college over the next three years. This cohort will advance the CALS Transdisciplinary Moonshot in Revolutionizing Controlled Environment Agriculture. In addition to this advertised hire, the cohort will include an insect ecologist, a CEA engineer, a food systems economist, and a specialty crop physiologist. The new faculty hires will play an integral role in the design of a planned CALS investment in new CEA facilities.


Research in the Revolutionizing Controlled Environmental Agriculture cohort will be guided by the goal to develop productive and sustainable CEA systems that are energy and resource efficient, resistant to biotic and abiotic stressors, and responsive to changing demographics and food markets. Current production of specialty crops is challenged by a myriad of factors which are amplified by extreme and erratic climatic events that devastate crops and favor the establishment of invasive pests and diseases. CEA is an emerging approach to address climate change and other challenges for crop production. CEA systems, ranging from partially to fully enclosed facilities, have the potential to provide an extended and more stable environment for food production with enhanced protection against extreme weather events, food-borne pathogens, and invasive pests and diseases. These systems create opportunities for streamlining farm labor and advancing production techniques using artificial intelligence and robotics. CEA systems will also help to stabilize supply-chain issues and export market timing, thus expanding market potential and opportunities to provide more equitable access to food.


The successful candidate will be physically located at Cornell’s AgriTech campus in Geneva, NY. Cornell AgriTech is a preeminent center for agriculture and food research that delivers practical solutions to help farmers and businesses thrive. Effective disease management is a requisite for high-quality production of specialty crops in a CEA environment. We are seeking a candidate who will develop an innovative research and teaching program in plant pathology and plant-microbe biology with a focus on CEA. The successful candidate will develop an externally funded research program that applies advanced information surrounding plant diseases and pathogens affecting the production of specialty crops in CEA. Research should address the underlying drivers of disease epidemiology and prediction, pathogen and population biology, and disease management. The candidate is expected to translate basic discoveries into applications with the goal of improving the management of diseases affecting CEA. The candidate will be expected to collaborate with members of other disciplines in SIPS as well as within and outside of CALS and at Cornell to identify integrated strategies to improve disease management. The candidate will also contribute to the missions of CALS and AgriTech to foster sustainable agricultural practices in specialty crops in CEA. The candidate is expected to secure funding from sources that include federal agencies, foundations, the private sector, and agricultural interest groups.


The candidate will also engage in inclusive advising and mentoring of students. Candidates are also expected to engage in service and stewardship activities within the school, the college and university, and relevant professional societies. We welcome candidates who comprehend the barriers facing women and other marginalized identities who are underrepresented in the classroom and in higher education careers (as evidenced by life experiences and educational background), and who have experience in supporting diverse communities with respect to teaching, mentoring, research, outreach, life experiences, or service towards building an equitable and diverse scholarly environment.



This position has an effort split of 60% research and 40% teaching.


Research (60%). Outstanding research scholarship is expected in plant pathogens and diseases affecting specialty crop CEA. The candidate will develop an internationally recognized program in CEA through a well-funded program. Excellence in and devotion to development of multidisciplinary team-based research and training programs is essential.


Teaching (40%).  The candidate will develop undergraduate or graduate courses in their area of expertise. The teaching responsibility could include existing core courses, or a newly designed course providing expertise in specific plant pathogen groups or practical field plant pathology and disease management. Teaching will be conducted both at the Ithaca and AgriTech campuses.


Qualifications: The successful candidate will have a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology or related disciplines with a working knowledge of plant disease management. An obligation to research and teaching in the SIPS and to the development of multidisciplinary team-based research and teaching programs with a collegial atmosphere is essential. Well-qualified applicants are expected to have a demonstrated record of publication excellence. Preferred qualifications include postdoctoral experience, the aptitude to work as part of a team, and the skills needed to communicate effectively with students, colleagues, and broader audiences. Having specific experience working in CEA is not a requirement to apply for this position.


Affiliation: The successful candidate will be a tenure-line faculty member of the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and will be based in the School of Integrative Plant Science with the option to join one of the two SIPS sections on the AgriTech campus. This hire will be based in the collaborative, interdisciplinary community on the Cornell AgriTech campus in Geneva, New York. The new faculty member will also be part of the CEA Initiative at Cornell as a member of the cohort of faculty hires focusing on Advancing Controlled Environment Agriculture to Revolutionize the Future of Specialty Food Crops. Cornell is an innovative Ivy League institution and an exciting work environment. Our inclusive community of scholars, students and staff impart an uncommon sense of larger purpose and contribute creative ideas to further Cornell’s mission of teaching, discovery, and engagement. A mentoring program will aid the personal and professional development of the new faculty member, providing advocacy, guidance, and assistance. The ideal candidate will thrive in this highly collegial and interactive environment of Cornell, which includes diverse faculty and vibrant graduate programs affiliated with SIPS. SIPS and CALS at Cornell embrace diversity and seek candidates who will create a climate that attracts students of all races, nationalities, and genders.


Applications and Starting Date: The anticipated starting date is Summer 2024, or as negotiated.  Qualified applicants should submit their application as a single PDF file including: 1) a cover letter briefly summarizing background, qualifications, and interest in the position; 2) a curriculum vitae; 3) a research statement outlining experience, interests, and goals (4 page maximum); 4) a teaching statement outlining experience, interests, and goals (2 page maximum); 5) a statement supporting diverse communities (this can be a stand-alone document (preferred) or the information can be embedded in other parts of the application materials) outlining how, through research, teaching, service. mentoring, extension, and/or outreach, the candidate has and will contribute to support Cornell’s historical mission of “any person … any study”; 6) copies of no more than four relevant publications; 7) names and contact information of four references (letters will be requested after the applications are reviewed); and 8) academic transcripts (unofficial is acceptable). Materials should be submitted online to: Applications received by January 1, 2024, will be given full consideration. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.


Inquiries may be directed to:

Search chair: Sarah Pethybridge

School of Integrative Plant Science

Cornell University

Geneva, NY 14456



CALS hiring range for position:

Assistant Professor: $79,400 - $135,000


The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at Cornell University is engaged in pioneering pursuit of inclusive, purpose-driven science. As Cornell’s second largest college, with discovery for impact at its core, we work across disciplines to tackle the obstacles of our time through equitable, world-renowned research, education, and outreach. The questions we probe and the answers we seek focus on three overlapping concerns: natural and human systems; food, energy, and environmental resources; and social, physical, and economic well-being. CALS is fundamentally invested in improving the lives of people, their environments, and their communities both in New York state and around the world.


Cornell seeks to meet the needs of dual career couples, has a Dual Career program, and is a member of the Upstate New York Higher Education Recruitment Consortium to assist with dual career searches including positions available in higher education in the upstate New York area.


Cornell is an Ivy League and Land-grant institution and a great place to work. Our inclusive community of scholars, students, and staff impart an uncommon sense of larger purpose and contribute ideas to further Cornell’s mission of teaching, discovery, and engagement.


Cornell's regional and global presence includes state-wide Cornell Cooperative Extension programs and offices in all counties and boroughs, global partnerships with institutions and communities engaged in life-changing research and education, the medical college's campuses on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and Doha, Qatar, and the Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island in the heart of New York City.


Cornell University embraces diversity and seeks candidates who will contribute to a climate that supports students, faculty, and staff to all identities and backgrounds. We strongly encourage individuals from underrepresented and/or marginalized identities to apply.


Diversity and Inclusion are a part of Cornell University’s heritage. We are a recognized employer and educator valuing AA/EEO, and we do not tolerate discrimination based on any protected characteristic, including race, ethnic or national origin, citizenship and immigration status, color, sex/gender, pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions, age, creed, religion, actual or perceived disability (including persons associated with such a person), arrest and/or conviction record, military or veteran status, sexual orientation, gender expression and/or identity, an individual’s genetic information, domestic violence victim status, familial status, marital status, or any other characteristic protected by applicable federal, state, or local law. We also recognize a lawful preference in employment practices for Native Americans living on or near Indian reservations in accordance with applicable law.


Cornell University embraces diversity and seeks candidates who will contribute to a climate that supports students, faculty, and staff to all identities and backgrounds. We encourage individuals from underrepresented and/or marginalized identities to apply.

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