Research Assistant in Plant Biology

University of California Berkeley

Research Assistant in Plant Biology

Job #JPF04083
  • Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology / College of Engineering / UC Berkeley

Position overview

Position title:Alt Meat Program Coordinator
Salary range: The posted UC academic salary scales set the minimum pay determined by rank and/or step at appointment. See the following table for the salary scale for this position A reasonable estimate for this position is $51,300–$65,900 annually.
Percent time: 100%
Anticipated start: Fall 2023
Position duration: This is a 12 month position with possibility of an extension depending on performance and availability of funding.

Application Window

Open date: August 18, 2023

Next review date: Friday, Sep 1, 2023 at 11:59pm (Pacific Time)
Apply by this date to ensure full consideration by the committee.

Final date: Monday, Sep 18, 2023 at 11:59pm (Pacific Time)
Applications will continue to be accepted until this date, but those received after the review date will only be considered if the position has not yet been filled.

Position description

The Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (SCET) at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) is seeking applications for a Junior/Assistant Specialist in the area of secondary metabolite production in plants and its purification, e.g., saponins. The Junior/Assistant Specialist will support research in the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship Alt Meat Lab under the supervision of Dr. Ricardo San Martin.

The successful candidate will conduct research and scientific input to determine the optimal approach for cultivating Quillaja saponaria trees across greenhouses, vertical farming, and open fields. A significant area of investigation will involve developing protocols for indoor production, specifically vertical farming, to understand the impact of CO2 levels, water availability, and light wavelengths on saponin production. This research aims to establish hydroponic methods for tree cultivation and create clones of the most promising plants through cuttings.

Responsibilities include successful cultivation of Quillaja saponaria plants in different growing conditions:
• Plot Inspection: Inspecting Quillaja research plots (Oxford tract greenhouse, hydroponics and field; Gill Tract: 500 plants in the field; Richmond Field Station: indoor farm unit), checking for any signs of pests, diseases, or unusual growth patterns.
• Cultural Practices for Quillaja saponaria: Provide direction on proper planting depth, spacing, and any necessary maintenance tasks for consistent growth
• Environmental Monitoring: Design and install a network of weather monitors to track temperature, humidity, and sunlight, making real-time adjustments.
• Hydroponic system Check: Inspect hydroponic systems, ensuring proper nutrient levels, pH, and water circulation for healthy plant growth.
• System Adjustments: Monitor environmental conditions and make necessary adjustments to maintain optimal nutrient, temperature and humidity levels for Quillaja plants.
• Problem-Solving Session: Address any growth issues or concerns with students, brainstorming solutions to enhance plant health.
• Coordinate with the manager of Oxford and Gill tracts any actions needed to properly execute the project.
• Biweekly visit to monitor quillaja plantations in UC Davis. Collection of samples, discussion with
Manage and set daily tasks to 8-10 undergraduate students that collaborate with the project.

In addition, this position will be responsible for leading student teams by:
• Assigning specific tasks for the next day's activities to student collaborators, ensuring a smooth workflow and balanced responsibilities.
• Student Guidance: Providing hands-on guidance to students, demonstrating planting techniques and discussing hydroponic principles.

This position will also engage in data collection & preparation of reports:
• Data Collection: Oversee students as they collect data on plant height, leaf color, and nutrient consumption, recording observations, Work with students to accurately record growth measurements, weather conditions, and any observed anomalies. Oversee student teams as they collect soil and plant samples, ensuring proper labeling and organization.
• Analytical Discussion: Engage in discussions with students about collected data, guiding them to analyze trends and draw initial conclusions.
• Write detailed weekly reports and 2-3 page monthly reports for sponsoring agency. Provide critical discussion on the data collected.


Basic qualifications (required at time of application)

Bachelor’s degree or equivalent international degree

Preferred qualifications
  • Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent international degree in the area of agricultural sciences
  • Experience with techniques to grow trees in greenhouses, field and hydroponically, to allow its cultivation in vertical farming units.
  • Experience cloning trees from cuttings to grow them hydroponically.
  • Prior research in a laboratory setting
  • Demonstrated ability to work in a team and build effective relationships.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills

Application Requirements

Document requirements
  • Curriculum Vitae - Your most recently updated C.V.

  • Cover Letter (Optional)

Reference requirements
  • 3 required (contact information only)
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Campus Information

UC Berkeley is committed to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. The excellence of the institution requires an environment in which the diverse community of faculty, students, and staff are welcome and included. Successful candidates will demonstrate knowledge and skill related to ensuring equity and inclusion in the activities of their academic position (e.g., teaching, research, and service, as applicable).

The University of California, Berkeley is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age, or protected veteran status. For the complete University of California nondiscrimination and affirmative action policy see:

In searches when letters of reference are required all letters will be treated as confidential per University of California policy and California state law. Please refer potential referees, including when letters are provided via a third party (i.e., dossier service or career center), to the UC Berkeley statement of confidentiality prior to submitting their letter.

As a University employee, you will be required to comply with all applicable University policies and/or collective bargaining agreements, as may be amended from time to time. Federal, state, or local government directives may impose additional requirements.

Job location

Berkeley, CA

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