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Senior Research Leaders (Fruit Horticulture), Plant Photobiologist, Insect Pest Ecologist, Field Pathologist, Kent


NIAB is a dynamic, research led and market driven plant bioscience organisation, with an emphasis on innovative applications for end-users in the agricultural, horticultural and food sectors.  With almost 90 years’ experience of technology evaluation and transfer, NIAB is spear-heading the advancement of plant genetic resources through research, technical services and training.  

Based at East Malling in Kent, NIAB EMR is an internationally-renowned plant science organisation conducting research on horticultural crops and their interactions with the environment, with a particular emphasis on tree- and soft-fruit crops.

The ‘Growing Kent & Medway’ project, which has recently been awarded £18M by the Strength in Places Fund, will provide state-of-the-art horticultural research and plant growth facilities at NIAB EMR.  Building on Kent and Medway’s established industry base, the project aims to make this region one of the most dynamic, competitive and successful horticultural and Agri-tech locations in the world, and is making collaborative R&D funding grants available for horticultural food and drink businesses across Kent and Medway.

In delivering an ambitious five-year plan for growth, we are seeking to appoint experienced Research Group Leaders in the following areas: 

  • Plant Photobiologist

Crop Science and Production Systems

We are seeking a candidate with experience of optimising growing conditions in Total Control Environmental Agriculture (TCEA) systems to enhance crop productivity, resource use efficiency and fresh produce quality. The initial focus will be on manipulating light intensities and wavelengths to optimise photosynthetic capacity, Class 1 yields and fruit quality in soft fruit lines and varieties grown in TCEA systems. 

Our R&D programme focuses on the complete production-to-supply chain and tackles challenges associated with climate change, food security, food chain quality and resource use efficiency, to optimise economic and environmental sustainability. Our aim is to better understand how to optimise growing strategies and management practices to deliver a step-change in crop productivity whilst improving resource use efficiency and reducing waste and emissions.

  • Insect Pest Ecologist

Pest and Pathogen Ecology

We are seeking an insect molecular ecologist. With recent changes in pesticide legislation there is an increasing requirement for alternative pest control approaches including conservation biology and biological control. To assist this as part of an integrated pest management program we need to understand trophic relationships including wild and commercially available biocontrols including parasitoids. The role will involve untangling these relationships and how to incorporate them as part of farm-based control programs, modern state-of-the-art technology and integrate knowledge of pest and natural enemy forecasts whilst collaborating with industry partners and fruit growers.

  • Field Pathologist

Pest and Pathogen Ecology

This post will study the biology, epidemiology and management of plant pathogens to facilitate the development of means for effective and sustainable crop protection. The overall aim is to devise strategies allowing a reduction in the usage of fungicides in UK horticulture, especially in top and soft fruit sectors. It is anticipated that the post holder will actively seek external funding to support relevant R&D work and be responsible for field-based pathological research activities.

Understanding the ecology of economically damaging pests and pathogens of fruit crops and how they interact with the environment is essential to develop innovative solutions for crop protection. This programme of work integrates pest and disease control with management of the local (farm) and wider landscape. The team integrates modern state-of-the-art technology with natural biological processes to reduce the impact of fruit farming on the environment.

All applicants must hold a PhD in a relevant topic, have at least 5 years postdoctoral experience and be able to demonstrate they have the skills required to deliver high quality scientific research and lead a successful research group, including a good track record in securing research funding and managing research grants. All applicants should have a good track record of working with industrial partners. Appointed applicants will develop their own area of research and collaborate with the wider NIAB Group.

Informal enquiries to:

The salary for this role is in the range of £47,612 to £62,823 per annum, dependent on skills, experience and qualifications.

Further details and an application form are available at: or from the HR Office, East Malling, Kent, ME19 6BJ, Tel No. 01732 523797, Email: quoting Ref No. SV/A1312


Closing date for applications:  31 January 2022

Location: Kent
Salary: £47,612 to £62,823 per annum, dependent on skills, experience and qualifications
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Permanent
Placed On: 5th January 2022
Closes: 31st January 2022
Job Ref: SV/A1312
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