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Research Assistant/Associate/Full Professor – Purpose-grown Energy Crop Agronomics, Spring 2024


The University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute (UT-ORII) seeks highly qualified research faculty candidates to advance the knowledge and application of Purpose Grown Energy Crops Agronom y, with an emphasis on perennial herbaceous and woody crops . To increase the circularity of the harvested resources, the biomass must be produced in a sustainable manner with minimal inputs ( e.g. fertilizers, pesticides, water). To help reach these sustainability goals, plant varieties grown need to be water and nutrient use-efficient, resistant to pests and environmental challenges, while achieving high biomass yields, optimal fiber and chemistry attributes, net positive carbon sequestration, and improved soil health. Through understanding of crop physiology, along with conventional and biotechnological approaches, we see the successful candidate in this position to advance Circular Bioeconomy Systems (CBS) .

This position will be associated with UT-ORII’s CBS Convergent Research Initiative (CRI), whose mission is to address current and future challenges in the agronomic science of purpose grown energy cro p production . The CBS CRI will include ~20 member investiga tors from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA), and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) . The position’s faculty appointment will be with UT-ORII at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

CBS r esearch faculty will collaborate on laboratory experiments and reporting, proposal preparation and submission, provide support for existing research projects, and mentor students at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Four anchor investigators of the project will provide mentoring and necessary infrastructure to the hire. Applicants will be considered at all faculty ranks.


  • Ph.D. in Agronom y, Plant or Crop Science, Soil Science or a related discipline.
  • A familiarity with field production methods, breeding, genetics, etc. of dedicated energy crops such as giant miscanthus, switchgrass, hybrid poplar and others .
  • Research experience in at least one area that support s UT-ORII’s Circular Bioeconomy Systems mission, including, but not limited to:
    • Sustainable crop production
    • Environmental biogeochemistry
    • Belowground microbial ecology
    • Ecosystem engineering
    • Genetics and plant breeding
  • A track record in publications .
  • A demonstrated research vision and plan for reaching independence as a researcher is desired .
  • Strong communication skills and a demonstrated ability to work in a collaborative team environment.
  • This position requires the ability to be granted a site-access badge for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
  • Experience mentoring students and junior researchers.
  • Experience in grant writing/funding.
  • Experience in more than one discipline or interest in collaboration across relevant disciplines.
Additional Information
  • This is a 12-month, non-tenure track position .
  • The appointment will be with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville .
  • The primary work location for this position is on the UTIA campus in Knoxville and may include visits to collaborator site s on the campuses of ORNL and UTK .
  • The position will be implemented as an initial three-year contract with full salary support for the first year, followed by a gradual increase in extramural funding such that the successful applicant is expected to support a portion of their own salary by the end of the term.
  • The applicant will be expected to recruit multiple graduate students by year three.
  • A competitive startup package including funds for graduate students and equipment will be offered .
  • Salary and title/rank will be determined commensurate with experience.
  • Benefits will be typical of exempt employees at the University of Tennessee.
Application Instructions

The Knoxville campus of the University of Tennessee is seeking candidates who have the ability to contribute in meaningful ways to the diversity and intercultural goals of the University. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. For further information about this position please contact Dr. Mitchell Richmond,

All required application materials must be submitted to Interfolio at

Required Application Materials :
  • a letter of interest
  • a comprehensive curriculum vitae
  • a research pla n
  • a list of at least three professional references, including their complete contact information
More About UT-ORII

The University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute was launched by the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 2021, in response to America’s need for a stronger pool of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and increasingly life science talent.

UT-ORII is leveraging UT and ORNL’s best capabilities and resources to accelerate collaborative discovery, innovation, and interdisciplinary graduate education; and to prepare the next generation of talent in areas of critical importance to the nation and the State of Tennessee. The institute’s current research areas include Clean Manufacturing and Advanced Materials, Energy Storage and Transportation, Radiopharmaceutical Therapies, and Circular Bioeconomy Systems. To learn more about UT-ORII visit .

More About U TIA

The UT Institute of Agriculture is at the core of the University of Tennessee’s land-grant mission of teaching, research, and outreach. We fulfill that mission through the impactful work of outstanding faculty, staff, and students. R esearch has been and continue s to be the engine that drives our expanding bioeconomy, generating scientific innovations and insights for the next generation of agriculture and natural resource management professionals . To learn more about UTIA visit .

More About ORNL

Leveraging the talents of its world-class researchers and exceptional support staff, Oak Ridge National Laboratory is helping solve critical scientific and technical challenges and, in so doing, creating economic opportunity for the nation. ORNL provides access to unique facilities, laboratories, and equipment, drawing thousands of visiting researchers each year. To learn more about ORNL visit .

Equal Employment Opportunity Statement

All qualified applicants will receive equal consideration for employment and admission without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, pregnancy, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, physical or mental disability, genetic information, veteran status, and parental status, or any other characteristic protected by federal or state law. In accordance with the requirements of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the University of Tennessee affirmatively states that it does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, or disability in its education programs and activities, and this policy extends to employment by the university. Requests for accommodations of a disability should be directed to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Accessibility, 1840 Melrose Avenue Knoxville, Tennessee 37996-3560 or or (865)974-2498. Inquiries and charges of violation of Title VI (race, color and national origin), Title IX (sex), Section 504 (disability), the ADA (disability), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (age), sexual orientation, or veteran status should be directed to the Office of Investigation & Resolution 216 Business Incubator Building 2450 EJ. Chapman Drive Knoxville, Tennessee 37996 or (865)974-0717 or .

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