The Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS) is now accepting applications for fixed-term employment of young researchers.

In order to facilitate further advancement in research activities that meet global challenges, JIRCAS is offering fixed-term employment aimed at nurturing excellent and highly motivated young researchers in pursuing research in the field of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

The employment contract is subject to renewal after an evaluation of the performance and achievements of the researcher to be carried out 11 months before the end of the term. A fixed-term researcher who successfully passes the evaluation will be employed continuously as a regular researcher.

A fixed-term researcher may take maternity leave, childcare leave, or nursing leave during the term, and may apply for extension of the term to cover the period for leave of absence.

Available positions and job description

Recruitment no.

Research Division, Position, No. of positions

Employment  period

Research description・ Research outputs ・ Key words

1

Rural Development Division, 1 person

 5 years (from 1 April 2020)

Overview of research activities

Public infrastructures such as roads, water supply and sewer services are constructed and managed by public institutions. In contrast, irrigation facilities are inseparably related to agricultural lands owned by farmers, and planning, construction, operation and maintenance as well as water allocation require active participation of the farmers themselves. Recently, a considerable number of studies have been conducted on participatory irrigation management (PIM) wherein irrigation users such as farmers are directly involved in management of irrigation systems. However, implementation of PIM in developing regions is affected by various factors including the amount of available water resources, situation of irrigation facilities, and activities of farmers as well as farmers’ organizations. Therefore, it is necessary to analyze the relationships among these factors using analytical models and to develop efficient measures for optimization of water allocation in rural areas.

We are looking for a researcher to conduct comprehensive studies on water resource development and agricultural water management from the point of view of agricultural engineering and social sciences. The candidate researcher must have sufficient academic background and experience in both research fields. For social implementation of the study, the candidate is also expected to conduct part of the research overseas in collaboration with counterpart research organizations in developing countries.

Research topics

  • Analysis of the current situation of water use and cropping in the rainy and dry seasons in large-scale irrigation systems in Asia, and proposals for water use planning and cropping systems in response to future drought risks and changes in water demand.
  • Developing an incentive system for farmers to disseminate the Alternative Wetting and Drying (AWD) which can realize saving water and mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission.
  • Understanding the changes in water usage and cropping pattern in Africa before and after construction of reservoirs, analysis of issues related to reservoir management, and proposing measures to improve performance of management system.

Keywords

Irrigation development, agricultural water management, participatory irrigation management (PIM)

Other qualifications

  • English language ability for scientific discussion and publication.
  • Communication skills in Japanese language for non-Japanese applicants.
  • Must be comfortable working in an international setting with overseas collaborators.
  • Experience in overseas research activities desirable but not required.

2

Social Science Division / Crop, Livestock and Environment Division, 1 person

5 years (from 1 April 2020)

Overview of research activities

Recent progress in the so-called smart technology has been remarkable, and in Japanese agriculture, various IoT devices, AI learning tools and robots, and infrastructure for dissemination of these platforms have been developed and maintained from production sites to post-harvest. On the other hand, agriculture in developing regions does not fully benefit from these advances in smart agriculture technology because researchers and engineers could not catch up in developing the necessary softwares for maintenance and handling big data.

JIRCAS is conducting research projects for the development of agricultural technologies to contribute in reducing environmental loads in developing regions through effective utilization of natural resources. With the aim of promoting data-driven agriculture, the latest IoT devices are used to collect data on monitoring of agricultural production environments including weather and greenhouse gases, crop growth, behavior patterns and fattening of grazing livestock etc. Big data with different dimensions is then processed using AI algorithms to develop applications that support decision making by farmers, markets, or governments, such as administration, harvesting, shipping timing, quantity etc. In developing such applications, it is necessary to pursue research that links information engineering and agriculture, and addresses the needs of local farmers and markets.

Therefore, we are looking for a young researcher with flexible ideas who can bridge such research fields and promote research to fully utilize the latest smart agricultural technologies in developing countries.

Research topics

  • Agricultural data collection and accumulation with IoT devices equipped in project sites
  • Construction of the agricultural data platform which conforms to the inter-operable international standard in the country.
  • Development of a tool to evaluate the productivity of grasslands and the fattening of beef cattle with sequential drone pictures processed by AI algorithms.
  • Construction of a decision support model for land and resource management that can be used to realize improvement of agricultural production, reduction of environmental loads and sustainability in an agrosylvopastoral system.

Keywords

Agronomy, Information Technology, Information Science

Other qualifications

  • English language ability for scientific discussion and publication.
  • Communication skills in Japanese language for non-Japanese applicants.
  • Must be comfortable working in an international setting with overseas collaborators.
  • Experience in overseas research activities desirable but not required.
  • Sufficient background in bioinformatics, experience in using field server and DSSAT (preferable).

3

Crop, Livestock and Environment Division / Biological Resources and Post-harvest Division /Tropical Agriculture Research Front, 1-2 person(s)

5 years (from 1 April 2020)

Overview of research activities

JIRCAS is conducting research on crop improvement in developing regions in Africa, where agricultural production is severely affected by abiotic stresses such as drought, salinity, iron toxicity and low soil fertility. In particular, we are using breeding technologies enhanced by the availability of genome sequences and a wide range bioinformatic approaches in developing improved cultivars of crops such as rice and soybeans. In collaboration with international research organizations and partner research institutes overseas, we hope to contribute in the development of highly productive crops adaptable to soil environmental conditions with low water and nutrient availability, highly nutritious crops, and functional crops with a high content of beneficial plant metabolites.

We are recruiting young researchers who can promote emerging research topics through a combination of novel phenotyping approaches, new breeding technologies such as genome editing, and new data processing options using bioinformatics, big data analysis and machine learning. The candidate shall be involved in research on: (1) selection of high-productivity crops (rice, soybean, etc.) adapted to adverse soil environments and crops with high nutritional value or content of functional constituents, and elucidation of the candidate genes related to these traits; and (2) genomics-aided breeding of highly productive crops adaptable to adverse soil environmental conditions, highly nutritious crops or functional crops. We expect the researcher to engage in collaborative research with domestic and overseas researchers, and promote joint research on crop genome breeding from a global perspective in the future.

Research topics

  • Search for candidate genes related to adverse soil tolerance, nutrition, functionality etc. by genome analysis of genetic resources and comparative genome analysis, and elucidation of causative genes using genome editing etc.
  • Genomics-aided breeding of highly productive crops adaptable to adverse soil environmental conditions and with high a content of nutritional and functional constituents.

Keywords

Crop, genome analysis, gene functional analysis, genome editing, genome-aided breeding

Other qualifications

  • English language ability for scientific discussion and publication.
  • Communication skills in Japanese language for non-Japanese applicants.
  • Must be comfortable working in an international setting with overseas collaborators.
  • Experience in overseas research activities desirable but not required.

4

Tropical Agriculture Research Front, 1 person

5 years (from 1 April 2020)

Overview of research activities

JIRCAS is pursuing research on crops that could be used as sources of food and biomass, but also for increased productivity of such crops even in poor environmental conditions. Sugarcane is one of our target crops because it is not only a potential source of food and alternative energy, but it can also adapt successfully to poor cultivation conditions. We have developed multi-purpose sugarcane (MPS) varieties by interspecific hybridization between commercial sugarcane and wild sugarcane. Yields of both sugar and fiber of MPS varieties are good where productivity of sugarcane is low due to severe drought and infertile soils. Intergeneric hybridization between sugarcane and Erianthus, or sugarcane and Miscanthus led to the development of new breeding materials with improved root system or cold hardiness as compared to existing sugarcane varieties. These new varieties are particularly suitable for cultivation in developing countries in Africa with poor environmental conditions such as low soil fertility and drought.

We are looking for a researcher with academic and research background in developing high-yielding biomass crops under unstable environments by introduction of useful characteristics such as biomass productivity or stress tolerance from wild relatives of sugarcane.  The research shall involve: (1) searching for genetic resources with useful characteristics and development of new breeding materials by crossing; (2) establishment of techniques for evaluating important characteristics of genetic resources and breeding materials, and selection of promising lines; (3) development of DNA makers related to useful characteristics; and (4) elucidation of transduction effect of useful characteristics in developed promising lines under field condition.

The researcher must have a sense of cooperation and international sensibility that allows joint research to proceed with domestic and foreign researchers, and the motivation to challenge new research subjects regardless of experience in sugarcane research.

Research topics

  • Development of new breeding materials by using genetic resources such as sugarcane varieties for sugar production, wild sugarcane, Erianthus, and Miscanthus.
  • Establishment of techniques for evaluating stress tolerance of genetic resources and breeding materials, and selection of promising lines.
  • Development of DNA markers related to useful characteristics such as environmental stress tolerance.
  • Elucidation of transduction effect of useful characteristics in developed promising lines under field conditions.

Key words

Sugarcane, genomic resources, breeding, phenotypic evaluation, environmental stress tolerance, DNA marker selection

Other qualifications

  • English language ability for scientific discussion and publication.
  • Communication skills in Japanese language for non-Japanese applicants.
  • Must be comfortable working in an international setting with overseas collaborators.
  • Experience in overseas research activities desirable but not required.

5

Tropical Agriculture Research Front, 1 person

5 years (from 1 April 2020)

Overview of research activities

The Tropical Agricultural Research Front, JIRCAS (Ishigaki) is pursuing research on introduction, evaluation, and utilization of the diversity of rice germplasm to realize sustainable rice production. So far, we have clarified genetic variations of agricultural traits in rice germplasm and developed breeding materials through research collaborations with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice), and National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) in developing regions. The genetic, physiological and morphological characterization of these germplasm through international collaboration is necessary to facilitate the development of breeding materials and technologies for breeding indica rice varieties adapted to the tropical region. Furthermore, in order to enable researchers in Japan and overseas to access these genetic resources and breeding materials, it is necessary to construct a database in addition to a storage and management system.

We are looking for young researcher who can pursue the following research activities: (1) clarify the diversity and genetic basis of agronomic traits in rice germplasm and breeding materials, 2) develop breeding materials adaptive to tropical regions, and 3) conserve, manage and develop a database for rice germplasm and breeding materials. The researcher must have a motivation to pursue joint research collaboration with Japanese and foreign researchers, and is expected to manage international collaborations for rice germplasm and the development of breeding materials through these collaborations.

Research topics

  • Clarification of hereditary mode associated with sustainable production and high added value of rice in the tropical region.
  • Development of breeding materials adapted to poor environment in tropical regions.
  • Implementation of research domestic and international research collaboration through collection and conservation of rice germplasm, and construction of database.

Keywords

Rice, germplasm, rice breeding, genetic variation, genetic mechanism, breeding material

Other qualifications

  • English language ability for scientific discussion and publication.
  • Communication skills in Japanese language for non-Japanese applicants.
  • Must be comfortable working in an international setting with overseas collaborators.
  • Experience in overseas research activities desirable but not required.

6

Tropical Agriculture Research Front / Biological Resources and Post-harvest Division, 1 person

5 years (from 1 April 2020)

Overview of research activities

Plant phenotyping is important in breeding and cultivation. Recent advances in genomics and information technologies facilitate the development of novel phenotyping platforms for more efficient and accurate evaluation of physiological, morphological and ecological interactions in plant growth. In addition, the development of continuous and non-destructive phenotyping technologies enables us to conduct effective crop management and yield prediction in model crops. So far, JIRCAS has introduced germplasms of rice, sugarcane, tropical fruits etc. and has developed breeding materials in collaboration with counterpart research organizations in developing countries. To utilize these germplasms, morphological and physiological characterization of these germplasm must be carried out using new phenotyping methodologies to identify and clarify the genetic diversity and factors of agronomic traits by new methodologies in phenotyping. The results will be linked to the development of new breeding materials, crop management and/or fed back to plant control. Furthermore, it is also necessary to disseminate the information for application in the breeding programs and efficient crop management of developing countries.

In order to maximize the utilization of our germplasm collection and to facilitate the breeding of new crops in developing countries, we are looking for a researcher who can pursue research in developing (1) novel efficient phenotyping methods using machine learning, and (2) applications of simplified methods of plant diagnosis using smartphones for implementation in developing countries. The candidate researcher will be based at the Tropical Agriculture Research Front (Ishigaki) and is expected to engage actively in the promotion of domestic and international collaborative research from a global perspective in the future.

Research topics

  • Development of continuous and non-destructive phenotyping methodologies for tomato, strawberry and other crops in environmentally controlled greenhouse.
  • Development of non-destructive and efficient phenotyping methodologies in the field for agronomic traits of rice or sugarcane germplasm
  • Development of measurement methods of floral traits of tropical fruit germplasm by 3D-structural analysis

Keywords

Rice, sugarcane, tropical fruit, machine learning, digital photographic analysis, germplasm, breeding, phenotyping, continuous and non-destructive phenotyping, database

Other qualifications

  • English language ability for scientific discussion and publication.
  • Communication skills in Japanese language for non-Japanese applicants.
  • Must be comfortable working in an international setting with overseas collaborators.
  • Experience in overseas research activities desirable but not required.
Qualification
  1. The applicant must possess a doctoral degree or expected to receive the degree by March 2020.
  2. The applicant must possess sufficient academic background, experience and skills to pursue research in the intended post.
  3. The applicant must have sufficient Japanese language ability that would not interfere with daily work.  

JIRCAS promotes gender equality in accordance with the Basic Act for Gender Equal Society, and strongly encourages qualified female researchers as well as non-Japanese researchers to apply.

Salary and benefits

To be determined according to JIRCAS regulations.

Documents to submit
  1. Curriculum vitae (Form 1)

          ※ Use the prescribed form.
          ※ Please make sure to indicate an email address for correspondence.

  1. Research achievements (Form 2)

          ※ Use the prescribed form.

  1. Research plan and future career goals (one-page A4, free format)
  2. Copy of peer-reviewd publications with applicant as lead author (one copy each)
  3. Summary of previous research activities (one-page A4, free format)
  4. Recommendation letter (From current supervisor excluding JIRCAS staff. Submission is optional.)
Send documents to

Dr. Masayoshi Saito
Director, Research Planning and Partnership Division
Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS)
1-1 Ohwashi, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8686

Deadline of application

November 28, 2019 (Documents must be received by 17:00.)

※ Submission by mail attachment or electronic file will not be accepted.
※ Please note that incomplete documents, flawed documents, or wrong information
   will be excluded in the evaluation of the applicant.

Selection process
  1. Screening of applicants based on submitted documents (early December 2019)
  2. Interview for selected applicants (mid to late December 2019)

※Place: JIRCAS Headquarters (1-1 Ohwashi, Tsukuba, Ibaraki)

Start of employment

April 1, 2020 (tentative)

For inquiries, please contact

Dr. Masayoshi Saito (masaito@ affrc.go.jp)
Dr. Tomohide Sugino (tosugino@ affrc.go.jp)

Other matters
  1. All expenses incurred in attending an interview will be borne by the applicant.
  2. All submitted documents will not be sent back to the applicant regardless of the result of the application.
  3. All correspondence will be done by email only.
Handling personal data

All submitted documents will be used only for the purpose of screening the applications, and not for any other purpose.

Form 1 Curriculum vitae
Form 2 Research Achievements