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Notice of Vacancy: Endowed Chair in Tree Fruit Soil and Rhizosphere Science

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Washington State University Department of Crop and Soil Sciences Notice of Vacancy

WSU Position #121694 vacancy link



  • Endowed Chair in Tree Fruit Soil and Rhizosphere Science
  • 12-month, permanent, full-time, open rank, tenure-track or tenured

Preferred Location:

  • Washington State University (WSU) Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center (IAREC), Prosser


  • Competitive salary commensurate with qualifications and experience


  • October 1, 2018 (negotiable)

The Opportunity:

The College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resources Sciences (CAHNRS) through the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences (CSS) seeks a current or emerging leader in basic and applied research on soil-plant interactions to serve as a core member of our tree fruit research and extension team. The endowed chair will build an internationally renowned soil and rhizosphere research program that enhances the competitiveness of the Washington apple, cherry, pear and stone fruit industries. This position is supported by a $2.0 million endowment made possible by a recent and historic, $32 million investment from the state’s tree fruit growers to support tree fruit research and extension at Washington State University.

Washington State is recognized globally as a premier tree fruit production region, with more than 230,000 acres of tree fruits statewide providing an annual economic impact of more than $8 billion. Over a third of the state’s fruit production is exported worldwide. The Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center (IAREC) is situated in one of the most agriculturally diverse regions in the U.S., where long, warm summer days, cool nights, low precipitation, and fertile soils make ideal conditions for irrigated fruit production, as well as other high-value horticultural crops.

The Endowed Chair in Tree Fruit Soil and Rhizosphere Science is directly responsible to the Chair of the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences and the IAREC Director.


The Endowed Chair in Tree Fruit Soil and Rhizosphere Science located in the WSU Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, but collaborating widely both within and beyond WSU, is expected to address significant challenges to fruit production whose solutions can be derived from an improved understanding of soil processes and soil-plant interactions. Research may include investigations of rhizosphere characteristics; function of soil microbial communities in mediating biogeochemical processes; the phytobiome; plant nutrient and water uptake; nutrient cycling; signaling between root, microbes and scion; and root characteristics, exudates, and architecture. Building on a foundation of tree fruit research, the endowed chair is expected to collaborate with scientists currently addressing soil-plant interaction questions in tree fruit and related systems. By relating soil-tree interactions to bulk soil properties (biological, chemical, physical), meteorology, hydrology, biotic and abiotic stress, rootstock and scion performance, crop management practices, and landscape variability, new research findings will inform technology transfer to, and successful adoption by, growers. Participation in formal dissemination of soil-related knowledge to the tree fruit industry, undergraduate and graduate students via guest lectures, individual and team teaching activities and graduate student advising is expected. The endowed chair’s research program complements several recent and planned soil- and rhizosphere-focused faculty hires, as well as current USDA-ARS programs in tree fruit soil and root health and IAREC, Wenatchee Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center, Departmental, inter-Departmental, and state-wide initiatives—such as integrated pest management, the WSU Tree Fruit Decision Aid System, the WSU Agricultural Weather Network, the Center for Precision & Automated Agricultural Systems (CPAAS), and the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (CSANR).

The successful candidate will emphasize collaborative programs with state, federal, and private research and extension personnel to strengthen ties between interdisciplinary horticultural and soil science research teams. The successful candidate will acquire competitive extramural funding to support a comprehensive research program, contribute scholarly literature, and enhance the national and international scope and reputation of the WSU soil science and horticultural programs. The successful candidate will be expected to conduct a program of research consistent with the mission of the WSU Agricultural Research Center, and work effectively with other researchers, extension professionals, private crop consultants, and with the grower community and stakeholders. The successful candidate will participate in regional meetings, promote soil and rhizosphere science in tree fruit production systems, and write for popular/grower press in addition to publishing extensively in scientific journals. Teaching responsibilities include the mentoring and supervision of graduate students, guest lectures and individual or team teaching contributions.



  • Earned Ph.D. in soil science, ecology, horticulture, plant science, forestry or closely related field at time of application; and
  • Demonstrated record of scholarly accomplishments in soil and rhizosphere science commensurate with career level.


  • Demonstrated ability to communicate effectively with technical and nontechnical audiences in oral, written, and electronic forms;
  • Demonstrated leadership in developing and executing an interdisciplinary soil and rhizosphere science research program;
  • Demonstrated excellence in collaborative research, graduate student mentoring, and interdisciplinary team building;
  • Demonstrated record of acquiring extramural competitive grant support;
  • Knowledge of state-of-the-art techniques applicable to tree fruit soil and rhizosphere science research;
  • Demonstrated knowledge and ability to work effectively with individuals and groups of diverse cultures, backgrounds, and ideologies.

WSU/Industry Partnership:

In partnership with the State’s tree fruit industry, Washington State University strives to be the world leader in tree fruit research, outreach and education. Today, WSU’s tree fruit effort includes more than 30 faculty members who dedicate the majority of their time and effort to tree fruit research and extension. These faculty span ten academic disciplines – horticulture, biological systems, engineering, entomology, plant pathology, soil science, food science, agricultural economics, agrometeorology and rural sociology – 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 in the USDA-ARS Tree Fruit Research Laboratory located in Wenatchee, the USDA-ARS Fruit and Vegetable Insect Research Laboratory located at Wapato, and the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission located in Wenatchee and Yakima. WSU has continued to advance its tree fruit research and education program with recent investment in faculty positions in breeding and genomics, physiology, automation and mechanization, as well as the purchase of a 150-acre research and demonstration orchard near Wenatchee. The historic $32 million investment from the state’s tree fruit producers will add six endowed chairs, at least five extension/tech transfer positions, and provide operating funds for research orchards, facilities and equipment.

The Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission uses grower assessments on fruit produced in the state to competitively fund research efforts in partnership with WSU, other universities and the USDA on essential aspects of tree fruit production including germplasm and rootstock development, physiology and crop management, improved post-harvest practices, eating quality and crop protection. Approximately $1.5 million per year is provided to WSU and USDA personnel in tree fruit research grants.

The Department of Crop and Soil Sciences:

Faculty and students in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences (CSS) at WSU are committed to creating a sustainable earth and feeding the world through research, teaching, and extension. Our department offers M.S. and Ph.D. programs in Crop Science and Soil Science. Undergraduate students can select B.S. programs in either Integrated Plant Sciences (with emphasis on agricultural biotechnology, field crop management, or turfgrass management) or Agricultural Food Systems (with emphasis on education, technology and production management, business economics, organics or food security). First-class facilities include a new 30-acre organic farm on the Pullman campus as well as labs and farms at research centers in Prosser, Wenatchee, and Mount Vernon. Partnerships with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest Laboratory, commodity commissions, the agriculture industry, and family farms result in well-rounded and timely research, successful outreach, and opportunities for student internships.

For more information, visit

Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center (IAREC):

The position is expected to be located at the Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center (IAREC) near Prosser in the lower Yakima Valley of central Washington. The IAREC functions as an administrative unit and maintains a strong multidisciplinary focus. It is also the state headquarters for the WSU AgWeatherNet, which includes 177 automated weather stations around the state ( Sixteen faculty members are stationed at the IAREC representing six WSU academic departments, as well as 80 staff members and Washington State Department of Agriculture personnel. Facilities include four research farms totaling almost 1200 acres, and extensive laboratories, greenhouses, offices, and support facilities. The Tri-Cities and Yakima metropolitan areas, less than an hour’s drive from the IAREC, host the WSU Tri-Cities campus and the USDA Yakima Agricultural Research Laboratory, respectively. The recently opened WSU Wine Science Center at the Tri-Cities campus offers state-of-the-art laboratory facilities for plant physiology, microbiology and biochemistry research.

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL) national user facility, a short walk from the Wine Science Center, has initiated a major rhizosphere research campaign. Instrumentation available at the EMSL facilities includes advanced mass spectrometers, microscopes, nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers and surface characterization tools – with new equipment regularly added.  World-class EMSL scientists offer expertise in fields ranging from environmental microbiology and metagenomics to analytical chemistry and high-performance computing.

For more information on IAREC, visit

For more information on PNNL-EMSL, visit

Life in South-Central Washington:

Prosser, a town of 5000 residents and excellent public schools, is situated centrally in the midst of this bountiful horticultural region. Located in south-central Washington State, Prosser is the birthplace of Washington wine and is home to the recently established Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center. The Yakima River runs through the town and expansive vineyards. Prosser is just a 30-minute drive to the Tri-Cities metropolitan area, where many IAREC researchers reside, with a population of two hundred and fifty thousand; extensive water-related activities at the confluence of the Columbia, Snake and Yakima rivers; and the Tri-Cities Airport (PSC) with direct connections to 10 major cities. Farther afield, the Blue and Cascade mountain range and Seattle are just 1-3 hours drive for outdoor and urban experiences, respectively.

To learn more about the Prosser community, visit

To learn more about the Tri-Cities community, visit

The College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences:

The College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS) at Washington State University is an expansive and diverse college that includes 15 academic units and five research and extension centers distributed across the state. CAHNRS fosters disciplines that serve at the interface of scientific discovery and its application to the advancement of society and improvement of the human experience. Our mission is to provide global leadership in discovering, accessing, and disseminating knowledge that contributes to producing a safe, abundant food and fiber supply; promotes the well-being of individuals, families, and communities; enhances sustainability of agricultural and economic systems; and promotes stewardship of natural resources and ecological systems. In all dimensions of our mission, we strive to embody the signature “World Class. Face to Face.” motto of Washington State University. CAHNRS personnel embrace the opportunity to fulfill the university’s land-grant mission by making groundbreaking research discoveries, by utilizing innovative approaches to teaching and learning, and by delivering relevant, progressive extension programs that synergistically generate outcomes that enhance the quality of life for the citizens of Washington State, as well as for people around the globe.

For more information, visit

Washington State University:

Founded in 1890, Washington State University is a comprehensive land-grant university with teaching, research, and extension missions, and one of two research universities in Washington State. WSU is organized into ten academic colleges, the Honors College, and the Graduate School. It has an enrollment of more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students on four campuses (Pullman, Spokane, Tri-Cities, and Vancouver) with approximately 20,000 students located on the main campus in Pullman, WA. WSU ranks among the top 60 public research universities and is a Carnegie I, Doctoral/Research Extensive University. WSU strongly values diversity among its faculty, staff, and students and seeks to ensure a welcoming community for all.

Further information about WSU can be found at:

Application Process:

Screening of application materials begins July 9, 2018, open until filled. To apply, visit Applications must include the following materials: 1) a cover letter, 2) a current curriculum vitae, 3) a statement of vision and goals for the position that describes how you would serve the needs of the tree fruit industry; 4) electronic copies of official graduate transcripts, and 5) the names and contact information for four people willing to serve as references. Reference letters will be requested for the finalists. The cover letter should address, in distinct sections, all of the required and preferred qualifications for the position (including your areas of expertise and research interests). Direct link for WSU Position #121694 vacancy

For questions about the position, contact Dr. David Brown at or 509-335-1859.


WSU is committed to excellence through diversity, has faculty friendly policies including a partner accommodation program, and an 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

Washington State University