Field Research Assistant I - Plant Biology Laboratory, Dr. Wolfgang Busch

  • Salk Institute for Biological Studies
  • Encinitas, CA 92024, USA
  • Apr 07, 2022
Full time Biology/Biotechnology/Life Sciences

Job Description

The CRoPS project aims to develop crops that sequester more carbon via extensive root systems containing recalcitrant carbon polymers to fight climate change. A major component of this research are field experiments to understand the edaphic or soil factors affecting root traits and root trait-derived soil organic carbon (SOC).

The Field Research Assistant will assist in collecting data in field research operations throughout the United States. This will involve aspects of agronomy, soil science and crop physiology to understand how root traits affect SOC accumulation and stability. The Field Research Assistant will play a key role in organizing, tracking, and processing soil and plant samples from field experiments. Field data collection includes soil coring and root washing, on location, throughout the United States. Sample preparation activities are conducted at Salk facilities and include: milling, grinding, labelling, shipping, and storing soil and plant tissue samples. Sample control activities involve data management and tracking, coordination with collaboration partners and laboratories, and a high skill level of organization and attention to detail. The position will be based in our North San Diego greenhouse/lab location.


(60%) Field and Greenhouse Research Operations

  • Assist in field soil sampling
  • Assist in shoot and root tissue sampling including root washing
  • Milling plant tissue samples in preparation for analysis
  • Grinding soil samples in preparation for analysis
  • Labeling, bagging, shipping, and organizing samples for analysis
  • Repetitive sample processing in laboratory
  • Creative input on research design, soil science and agronomy relating to root phenotyping and soil organic carbon
  • Field work, which includes long hours on feet in inclement weather, physical labor and work around heavy machinery
(30%) Administrative Support
  • Data input
  • Sample tracking on spreadsheet
  • Cleaning and organizing work, lab, and storage space
(10%) Compliance to Safety and Environmental Standards
  • Conduct, train and complete experiments with upmost safety protocols and compliance to established SOPs
  • Ensure field operations are compliant with Federal and California environmental regulations


  •  Knowledge of scientific method and controlled experiments
  • Experience in agriculture, plant, soil science, or general biology
  • No professional experience required with relevant degree
  •  Minimum of two years of experience assisting in large, controlled experiments
  • Experience in greenhouse or field settings


  •  Associates degree in an agricultural, plant/soil science, or biological field
  •  BS/BA degree in an agricultural, plant/soil science, or biological field


  •  Excel and Microsoft Office
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Knowledge and interest in soil science, agronomy, and carbon cycles
  • Knowledge of laboratory or research setting
  • Knowledge on controlled sampling and data integrity
  • Organized
  • Detail oriented
  •  Experience participating in large, controlled experiments
  •  Must be willing to work in an animal-related research
  • Satisfactory completion of the Institute's background
  • Must be willing to sign a confidentiality agreement

This position requires constant adjusting focus, grasping, hearing, keying, seeing, sitting, talking, analyzing, calculating, communicating, reading, reasoning, and writing. 

Application Details

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 Equal Opportunity Employer/Protected Veterans/Individuals with Disabilities


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