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The USDA Agricultural Research Service, Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology (CMAVE) has an opening for a postdoctoral research associate. The project primarily involves developing volatiles-based mass spectrometry and machine learning technology to dramatically improve animal welfare in the egg industry.

The Challenge

About 700 million chicks are hatched annually in the US egg industry. Half of those are male and they are culled the day they hatch because they lack economic value. We are developing a method to determine the sex of the egg when it is laid. Our novel approach uses rapid volatile compound mass spectrometry and machine learning. This will allow the male eggs to be diverted and used for food products before the chick develops the ability to sense pain. Early sex identification also reduces industry costs by reducing the need for egg incubators and labor. The postdoc in this position will build off the existing work and intellectual property of the group to quickly create a viable commercial prototype in 18 to 24 months.

Desired skills

  • good experience in any field of mass spectrometry.
  • Additional knowledge in analytical chemistry, chemical ecology, poultry, or statistics is a plus.
  • An ideal candidate will also have a collaborative, inventive and entrepreneurial spirit, a problem-solving mentality, and an interest in gaining valuable skills in machine learning.

I recognize that each person has a unique mix of experience and individual strengths and I encourage any applicant with a strong record of research productivity and relevant experience to apply, even if your mix of skills is different than what is listed above.

The Team

  • Adam R, Rivers, PhD (PI, microbiomes, software and machine learning methods)
  • Shawn Christensen PhD (Co-PI, plant defense response to microbes, metabolomics)
  • John Beck, PhD (Co-PI, chemical communication of plants, insects, and microbes)
  • Gary Butcher, DVM, PhD (Co-PI, Veterinarian board certified in avian pathology and management. Expertise in hatchery management).

The Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology, located near the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL, is an internationally recognized research facility comprising four Research Units, each with a diverse group of scientists (chemistry, entomology, plant physiology, molecular biology, genetics, among others) working on cutting-edge research in chemical communication of plants, insects, and microbes; mosquitoes; fire ants; and, insect behavior and biocontrol. Compensation includes competitive postdoctoral pay and benefits.

Interested? Email today.

USDA/ARS is an equal opportunity provider and employer.