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Postdoctoral Engineer in Agrifood Technology (Multiple Hire Recruitment)

Position overview

Position title: Postdoctoral Scholar
Salary range: See Table 23 for the salary range for this position. A reasonable estimate for this position is $60,000 - $ 71,952.
Percent time: 100%
Anticipated start: May 1, 2023
Position duration: 2 years

Application Window

Open date: March 20, 2023

Next review date: Tuesday, Jun 20, 2023 at 11:59pm (Pacific Time)
Apply by this date to ensure full consideration by the committee.

Final date: Tuesday, Mar 19, 2024 at 11:59pm (Pacific Time)
Applications will continue to be accepted until this date, but those received after the review date will only be considered if the position has not yet been filled.

Position description

We are seeking highly motivated postdoctoral scholars for two-year positions to lead research on agrifood technology engineering and innovation. VISTA F3, an emerging research center at UC Merced, is advancing the Economic Development Administration’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge for the San Joaquin Valley. A key research and development activity will be the advancement of transdisciplinary research that works with community advisors and industry partners in use-inspired research and development with commercial application in the emerging agrifood technology and engineering sector. The post-doctoral scholars, emerging leaders in agrifood technology with background in artificial intelligence, computer vision, remote sensing, mechatronics or related subdiscipline, will play a crucial role in the development and commercialization of use-inspired agrifood technology for the benefit of underserved communities supported by the agricultural economy in the San Joaquin Valley region.

These scholars will have the opportunity with a cohort of other scholars funded by the USDA NIFA SAS Securing a Climate Resilient Water Future for Agriculture and Ecosystems through Innovation in Measurement, Management, and Markets (, the USDA NIFA AI Institute for Transforming Workforce and Decision Support (, and the NSF Internet-of-Things for Agriculture ( As such, the successful candidates will work with a diverse team of leading scientists at UC Merced, and their collaborators in California (UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Agriculture & Natural Resources), Washington State University, Oregon State University, University of Pennsylvania, Purdue University and University of Florida, as well as industry partners.

Responsibilities of these positions will include conducting original research that integrates technoeconomic and innovation aspects of agrifood technology in addition to use-inspired research in any of the following areas:

• Inclusive Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Agrifood Tech; Small Farmer Tech Solutions; Convergent approaches to Equitable Food-Energy-Water Solutions; Societal Resilience in Agrifood Tech Innovation

• Climate Resilience and Regenerative Agriculture; Ecosystem Service Quantification (e.g., carbon / nitrogen accounting, water quality remediation); Geospatial Mapping, Analysis and Modeling for precision applications; Water Information and Accounting (e.g., ET, irrigation, groundwater recharge); Food-Energy-Water Systems (e.g., agrivoltaics, vertical farming);

• Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and/or Data Science applications; Automation, Cyberphysical Systems, Robotics, and Mechatronics; Internet-of-Things, Edge Computing, Human-Computer Interaction; Technology Stack Systems Integration; Digital Twins; Biological and Chemical Sensor Systems with applications in environmental sensing, agriculture, food production and quality control.

The incumbents will be responsible for:

• Leading use-inspired research and development of agrifood technology in collaboration with local practitioners and community advisors
• Working with regional industry partners to co-create and commercialize agrifood technology that meets the needs of underserved communities
• Utilizing expertise in AI, computer vision, mechatronics, remote sensing, and robotics to bring the technology to market
• Mentoring junior engineers and participate in the training and development of the next generation of agrifood technology leaders
• Conducting market analysis and product development to ensure commercial viability and meet the needs of underserved communities
• Collaborating with interdisciplinary teams of researchers, industry partners, and community organizations to promote inclusive innovation and sustainable economic growth

Preferred candidates will have experience in interdisciplinary research teams, a proven track record of publishing in peer-reviewed journals, and a commitment to pursuing inclusive innovation. The successful candidates should be able to work with community members from diverse backgrounds, including those who are traditionally underrepresented in decision-making processes. The scholars will be expected to lead development of several studies in collaboration with an interdisciplinary team of researchers, mentor undergraduate and graduate students, and undertake professional development activities in consultation with the PIs to further their own training and career advancement. Limited supervisory activities are required, as the scholars will coordinate Student Assistants and junior staff as needed. Occasional travel will be required to visit collaborating organizations and to team meetings. Best practices in engineering, data management, as well as in team science, are expected.

If you are passionate about agrifood technology, inclusive innovation, and use-inspired solutions for climate resilience food system, we encourage you to apply for this exciting opportunity. You will grow a large network of industry partners and university collaborators while participating in novel training opportunities in inclusive innovation with transformational outcomes.

As a condition of employment, you will be required to comply with the University of California SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program Policy: All Covered Individuals under the policy must provide proof of Full Vaccination or, if applicable, submit a request for Exception (based on Medical Exemption, Disability, and/or Religious Objection) or Deferral (based on pregnancy) no later than the applicable deadline. New University of California employees should refer to Appendix F, Section II.C. of the policy for applicable deadlines. (Capitalized terms in this paragraph are defined in the policy.) Federal, state, or local public health directives may impose additional requirements.


Basic qualifications

Ph.D. in computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, environmental engineering, agricultural engineering, systems engineering, or related field

Additional qualifications

Strong background in the development and commercialization of agrifood technology.
Expertise in AI, computer vision, mechatronics, remote sensing, and robotics or related subdiscipline.
Experience in joint research and development with industry partners, especially in agriculture and/or food processing.
Excellent written and verbal communication skills and ability to work effectively in a team environment.
Strong analytical and problem-solving skills and the ability to think creatively and critically.
Familiarity with market analysis and product development processes.
Experience working with interdisciplinary teams and a commitment to promoting social justice and equity.
Commitment to promoting social justice and equity through inclusive innovation.

Application Requirements

Document requirements
  • Curriculum Vitae - Your most recently updated C.V.

  • Cover Letter

  • Statement of Research

  • Statement on Contributions to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion - Statement on your contributions to equity, diversity, and inclusion, including information about your understanding of these topics, your record of activities to date, and your specific plans and goals for advancing equity and inclusion. Please review the UC Merced Diversity Statement Guidelines and UC’s Commitment to Diversity

Reference requirements
  • 3 required (contact information only)
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Campus Information

The University of California is an Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer and invites applications from all qualified applicants, including women, minorities, veterans, and individual with disabilities, who will enrich the teaching, research and public service missions of the university. All qualified applicants will be considered for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age or protected veteran status. For the complete University of California nondiscrimination and affirmative action policy, see: UC Nondiscrimination & Affirmative Action Policy (

The University of California, Merced, is the newest of the University of California system’s 10 campuses. With over 9,000 undergraduate and graduate students (, UC Merced provides outstanding educational opportunities to highly qualified students from the heart of California, the nation, and abroad. The campus has special connections to nearby Yosemite National Park; is on the cutting edge of sustainability in construction and design; and supports the economic development of Central California. The Merced 2020 Project doubled the physical capacity of the campus, and enhanced academic distinction, student success, and research excellence (

UC Merced is a smoke & tobacco free campus (

Job location

Merced, CA