Precision Agriculture in Specialty Crops

Title: Assistant/Associate Professor: Precision Agriculture in Specialty Crops

Location: Gulf Coast Research and Education Center University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) Wimauma, Florida

Salary: Commensurate with Qualifications and Experience

Review Date: For full consideration, candidates should apply and submit additional materials by April 15, 2021. The position will remain open until a viable applicant pool is determined.

Duties and Responsibilities

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is committed to creating an environment that affirms diversity across a variety of dimensions, including ability, class, ethnicity/race, gender identity and expression. We particularly welcome applicants who can contribute to such an environment through their scholarship, teaching, mentoring, and professional service. We strongly encourage historically underrepresented groups to apply.

This is a 12-month tenure-accruing position that will be 70% research (Florida Agricultural Experiment Station) and 30% extension (Florida Cooperative Extension Service), available in the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, at the University of Florida. This assignment may change in accordance with the needs of the unit. Tenure will accrue in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE).

This position is part of the cohort of new hires focused on the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics in agriculture. This position is intended to collaborate closely with another new position also to be stationed at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center (GCREC) with a tenure home in ABE, that will focus on AI for phenomics for plant breeding applications ( ) as well as other faculty in ABE and Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering (HWCOE).

The faculty member in this position will develop a successful and nationally recognized research and extension program focused on:
• AI-based precision agricultural technology,
• AI-based mechanical harvesting technology for strawberry, fresh-market vegetables and other specialty crops, and/or
• AI-based machine vision for mechanical harvesting, automated scouting, and/or precision application of agrochemical inputs.
• Integration of AI with geographic information systems and remote sensing.

The extension component will include development of a successful educational program to facilitate commercial adoption and evaluation of state-of-the-art mechanical harvesting and/or other precision agriculture technology with the goal of improving the profitability and environmental sustainability of Florida’s fruit and vegetable industry.

Candidates with strong academic backgrounds that also demonstrate the ability to work with applied systems will be preferred. Candidates with an interest in integrating knowledge from multiple academic domains, particularly computer vision and electronics are desired. The candidate will have the opportunity to work in an interdisciplinary environment consisting of industry partners and faculty in agricultural and biological engineering, economics, entomology, horticulture, microbiology, plant pathology, soil science, and weed science. The development of mechanical harvesting and precision agricultural technologies for specialty crops is a top priority across the country. In recognition of the importance of this field of research, GCREC faculty have initiated research in this area and have already constructed new laboratory and shop facilities for the candidate. The candidate is expected to provide leadership in mechanical harvesting and/or precision agriculture extension and develop the program for the entire state.

Candidates should possess the interest, skills, and temperament to interact and collaborate effectively with other researchers. A successful candidate is expected to embrace all three missions of Research, Extension, and Teaching of the Land-grant university system. The research and extension FTE assignment may vary in response to the needs of the unit.

The candidate is required to establish the basis for a strong externally funded research program, and promote his/her research activity and leadership in professional societies, supported by sustained publication activity in top scientific journals. The candidate has the opportunity to collaborate with other faculty and research partners, creating synergy both inside and outside of the University of Florida. The goals of the position are also in line with strategic research areas of the UF College of Engineering ( of which ABE is also an active member through ABET accreditation. The candidate will be expected to participate in all activities or departmental academic life such as research groups, mentorship of undergraduate and graduate students, and academic service activities; and work closely with other faculty in IFAS, the College of Engineering, and the Center for Remote Sensing.


A doctorate (foreign equivalent acceptable) in Engineering, Computer Science or a closely related discipline is required. Candidates should have demonstrated excellent verbal and written communication skills, and the ability to participate in collaborative efforts, and procurement of external funding. Candidates must be supportive of the mission of the Land-Grant system. Candidates must also have a commitment to IFAS core values of excellence, diversity, global involvement, and accountability.

We seek an applied, interdisciplinary engineer with the ability to focus on mechanical harvesting of fresh-market produce and/or the ability to integrate computer vision with robotic technology for automated scouting and precision application of agrochemical inputs. Postdoctoral experience is desirable.
Background Information

The Gulf Coast Research and Education Center ( has diverse research, extension and teaching programs with 20 faculty members located at Balm (mailing address Wimauma – 35 minutes drive from downtown Tampa) and the Plant City teaching program, with specialization in economics, geomatics, horticulture, pest management, plant breeding, and resource management. GCREC is a modern research and education facility that includes offices and laboratories, 15 greenhouses, approximately 500 acres of field operations, and housing for up to 16 resident graduate students.

The Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department is a unit in the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) at the University of Florida that has diverse teaching, research and extension education programs. The Department is comprised of 34 faculty members located on the Gainesville campus, 5 faculty located across the state at research and education centers, and 20 support personnel (see website, and consistently ranks in the top 10 Agricultural and Biological Engineering programs nationwide. Instilling excellence in research, leadership, innovation, and entrepreneurship are ABE's highest priorities. At ABE, the candidate will join a dynamic, cross-disciplinary group of researchers, and will enjoy broad opportunities for collaborations with existing teams.

Employment Conditions
This position is available immediately, and will be filled as soon thereafter as an acceptable applicant is available. Compensation is commensurate with the education, experience, and qualifications of the selected applicant.

Application Information
Individuals wishing to apply should go online to and submit:
o Cover letter that states applicant’s interest in the position and qualifications relative to the credentials listed above
o Curriculum vitae
o Contact information (including email addresses) for five individuals willing to write letters of recommendation

Selected candidate will be required to provide an official transcript to the hiring department upon hire. A transcript will not be considered “official” if a designation of “Issued to Student” is visible. Degrees earned from an education institution outside of the United States are required to be evaluated by a professional credentialing service provider approved by National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES).