Position Description: NutraMaize is seeking a self-motivated scientist to participate in a National Science Foundation funded Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) project. The primary focus of this project is the development of improved varieties of High Carotenoid Orange Corn through genotypic and phenotypic selection. The secondary focus of this project is developing an understanding of how Orange Corn kernel characteristics affect food processing performance. This position will work with the NutraMaize R&D team and collaborators at Purdue University to conduct a variety of interdisciplinary research activities related to plant breeding, genetics and food science. This fellowship is for 1-year with the potential option for renewal based on performance and the availability of funds. Upon completion of the fellowship, a full-time employment opportunity with NutraMaize may be available.

Company Description: NutraMaize is on a mission to transform the United States’ largest staple crop – corn – into a platform for delivering better nutrition on a population-wide scale. NutraMaize’s innovation is a set of unique varieties of non-GMO Orange Corn. The vibrant orange color comes from significantly higher levels of carotenoids (2-4x more than yellow corn), the same natural antioxidant pigments that give carrots their color and health-benefiting reputation. NutraMaize’s Co-Founder Dr. Torbert Rocheford originally participated in the development of Orange Corn as part of the humanitarian effort called HarvestPlus to help address malnutrition in Sub-Saharan Africa, where it is currently grown in more than 10 countries. Now NutraMaize is bringing the nutritional benefits of Orange Corn to Americans whose eye health stands to benefit from increased carotenoid intake.

Position Core Research Activities: This position will primarily focus on supporting the development of high yielding Orange Corn hybrids suitable for large scale commercial applications. This will be accomplished through the development and use of molecular markers as well as phenotypic selection. This position will leverage our research groups existing extensive knowledge of carotenoid biosynthesis and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that have already been identified for 18 genes in the carotenoid and related pathways that have been associated with levels of carotenoids. Core research responsibilities will include:

  • Work with unique orange corn flint germplasm, elite exPVP yellow dent lines, advanced breeding lines, and experimental hybrids to identify the best candidate inbred lines for future commercial production.
  • Design, optimize and use SNP markers in marker assisted selection.
  • Participate in phenotypic selections based on High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) analysis for carotenoids, yield data and food science results.

This position will work closely with Dr. Rocheford, and interact with NutraMaize’s consulting quantitative geneticist Dr. William Muir to use phenotypic and genotypic data in the Orange Corn hybrid development process. NutraMaize is located in West Lafayette, IN and collaborates closely with Dr. Rocheford’s lab at Purdue University. Physical research activities will be conducted on Purdue University’s Campus and at the Purdue Agronomy Center for Research and Education (ACRE). This opportunity is well suited for someone looking to grow into a Principal Investigator role with an innovative start-up company.

Desired Experience and Qualifications:

  • PhD in plant genetics, breeding, biology, statistics, bioinformatics, or related discipline.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication and team skills
  • Detail-oriented with the ability to manage multiple priorities at once
  • Ability to work with others in a dynamic work environment
  • Demonstrated ability to produce scientific results
  • Ability to analyze, summarize and interpret datasets
  • Experience with phenotypic and genotypic datasets specifically is a plus
  • Experience working with maize or another food crop is a plus.
  • Willingness to perform physical research activities in corn fields and greenhouses, including controlled pollinations and note-taking of yield trial plots.

How to Apply:

This fellowship is funded through the American Society of Engineering Education’ Innovative Postdoctoral Entrepreneurship Research Fellowship (I-PERF) program. In order to apply you will need to create an account at https://iperf.asee.org/ and apply through the I-PERF portal. Applicants must also meet the following program requirements in order to apply:

  • Hold an earned doctoral degree in an NSF-supported STEM discipline from a recognized Ph.D. granting institution,
  • Earned their relevant doctoral degree within 7 years of their application to the I-PERF research opportunity, and
  • Be a United States Citizen, National, or Permanent Resident of the United States at the time of application to the I-PERF program.

Emphasis will be placed on the participation of persons who are members of socio-economic disadvantaged groups, members of underrepresented groups in science and engineering, persons with disabilities, veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, and first generation college graduates.