Postdoctoral Research Associate - Texas A&M University
Great increases in agricultural productivity have been made through improved cultivars, but the world’s growing population accentuates the need to increase productivity. While DNA sequencing and marker data have vastly decreased in cost over the past decade, making them broadly available for plant selection by breeders and scientists, improvements in speed, accuracy, and relevance of phenotypic data are now needed. New high-throughput field phenotyping (HTFP) tools are expected to enable developed of the next generation of improved crops. In this project, ground and aerial HTFP approaches for grain sorghum improvement will be used and developed. Specific metrics of interest include plant growth curves and grain yield estimates. New methods of sorghum breeding are expected as a result of this project, as more genotypes and far more information about each genotype will be able to be screened than ever before possible. Key engineering-research issues include sensor development and data analysis of relationships between phenotypic and genotypic data. The employee will work on (a) sensor selection and integration with existing mobile platforms, (b) testing of conventional and machine-learning based image analysis procedures for accuracy and repeatability in measuring important crop metrics, and (c) automation of candidate image-analysis methods to enable real-time collection of metrics. The employee will be involved in operation and maintenance of sensors on all HTFP platform(s). Fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft will be flown weekly to collect multispectral – and possibly hyperspectral and thermal – images of grain sorghum hybrid trials. Also, an unmanned ground phenotyping vehicle (UGPV) with roughly 10-ft clearance for phenotyping all types of sorghum (energy, forage, and grain) will be deployed on a weekly basis with the following proximal sensors: ultrasonic sensors for height measurements, NDVI sensors, temperature sensors, and RGB cameras. Activities will be conducted at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research farm located in the Brazos River Bottom just west of College Station, Texas. The position will be funded for at least one year.
- Provide leadership and collaboration in HTFP data collection and analysis.
- Provide leadership and participation in development and execution of protocols, as well as automation of those protocols for consistent data products for repetitive scientific needs.
- Provide leadership and participation in design and development of new autonomous sensing systems including work in mechatronics and optoelectronics.
- Provide leadership and participation in development of innovative “big data” analysis techniques.
- Assist faculty in experimental design, field supervision, and fieldwork during data collection.
- Supervise assigned graduate and undergraduate students.
- Oversee the Biological Engineering Sensor Technologies Laboratory (BEST Lab.) including providing guidance in training graduate and undergraduate students to work in BEST Lab.
- Procure necessary parts, equipment, materials, and supplies.
- Use presentation graphics and multimedia to develop presentations and documents to support lead BAEN principal investigator.
- Write research reports and make oral presentations.
- Perform other related duties as assigned.
The individual in the position will receive supervision from the research program’s lead principal investigator in BAEN. The individual will supervise graduate students and undergraduate student workers and other individuals who will assist in the combined research program.
A Ph.D. degree in Biological & Agricultural Engineering or closely related engineering field.
Demonstrated experience in research projects, extensive knowledge of computers and GIS and image-analysis software packages. Experience in precision-agriculture technologies (GPS/GIS), image-processing and remote-sensing software and hardware including UAVs, robotics, and optoelectronics is desirable. Significant programming experience in HTML, C, JAVA and/or other languages. Experience in designing and building electronic circuits.
Knowledge, Abilities and Skills
Excellent written and oral communication skills, proficiency in remote and proximal sensing for agricultural applications, and willingness to work in laboratory research and agricultural field-research operations are required. Ability to write well-structured computer programs. Ability to design, build, and test electronic circuits.
Applications can be submitted at greatjobs.tamu.edu.