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Join Our Team

Crop Transformation Facility (CTF) Positions 

Below are the job positions that we are looking for. If you have any questions, please contact the RIPE Senior Project Manager, Lisa Emerson, at

Crop Transformation Facility (CTF) Construct Assembly Technician 

Successful candidates will be working on the construction and validation of plasmids for plant transformation. Required skills expected of candidates include knowledge of molecular cloning, PCR, lab documentation, excellent organizational skills, excellent communication skills, and ability to prioritize multiple tasks effectively. It is preferred that candidates also have knowledge of electronic lab notebooks (Benchling), Sanger sequencing/sequence alignments, and automation techniques. To apply, visit here. Applications are due by October 22, 2021.

High-Throughput Phenotyping Facility (HTPF) Positions

Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE) is a project that aims to improve photosynthesis to equip farmers worldwide with higher-yielding crops to ensure everyone has enough food to lead a healthy and productive life. RIPE is sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research, and the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office who are committed to ensuring Global Access and making the project’s technologies available to the farmers who need them the most.

As RIPE moves an increasing number of transgenic traits from model to crop systems, our capacity for crop transformation needs to increase. To meet this demand, new state-of-the-art facilities, the High-Throughput Phenotyping Facility (HTPF) and the Crop Transformation Facility (CTF), have been built on the University of Illinois Research Park. We are now searching to expand our qualified staff committed to the public-good objectives of RIPE.

The University of Illinois is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action employer that recruits and hires qualified candidates without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, national origin, disability or veteran status. For more information, visit

Below is one position that we are seeking to fill for the greenhouse and HTPF. 

Field Greenhouse Technician

The successful candidate will be a vital part of a team committed to the development of biotechnologies that will be freely available to and will lead to better seeds for poor farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

The incumbent will provide technical support for the daily operation of the greenhouse and field trials. This position requires work at the greenhouse, laboratory, and field, and will be dedicating some of their time to working at the HTPF. 

Some skills required of candidates include having advanced knowledge of the Federal Plant Pest Act that gives APHIS the authority to make determinations regarding transgenic plant variety containment requirements, as well as knowledge of all required associated permitting and disposal regulations. 

To apply, visit here. Applications are due by July 27, 2021. 

Research Technicians 

The Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) at the University of Illinois is hiring several research technicians to assist the RIPE project. Illinois is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action employer. Minorities, women, veterans, and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply. For more information, visit

Postdoctoral Researchers

A postdoctoral position is available in the laboratory of Dr. Laurie Leonelli to pioneer innovation in the field of photosynthesis engineering. 

This position offers a range of opportunities that include characterization of chloroplast proteomes, biochemical and structural studies of key enzymes involved in energy cycling, and exploration in crop genomics. 

The ideal candidate will have a Ph.D. in a relevant field, experience in molecular biology and/or biochemistry, and an eager willingness to learn and apply new techniques. Experience with photosynthesis is a plus. This position is highly cross-disciplinary in nature and a strong spirit of collaboration is expected. 

Expectations and Duties:

  • Performing thoughtfully designed experiments independently

  • Participation in lab meetings and journal club

  • Mentorship of junior lab members

  • Publishing in peer-reviewed journals

  • Contribution to general laboratory maintenance 

To apply for this position, submit your CV, a cover letter summarizing your interest and qualifications, and contact information for three professional references to Dr. Leonelli at Review of applications will begin February 19th. Questions about this opportunity may be addressed to Dr. Leonelli. 

Illinois Summer Fellows

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The Illinois Summer Fellows (ISF) program brings first and second-year students studying biological sciences at the University of Oxford to the University of Illinois to contribute to plant science research throughout the summer months, generally from the beginning of July through the third week of September. Fellows work alongside a postdoctoral researcher mentor to support larger research projects, like RIPE, that are working toward increasing food and bioenergy production. Learn more about the program and how to apply. 

2021 ISF Program COVID-19 Updates

The distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine has commenced and welcomes optimism for what our future holds. However, we must continue to be as diligent as ever in adhering to safety precautions. 

With this said, we are sad to announce that the ISF program for 2021 is canceled. We will not be accepting any ISF applications for this year, however, we look forward to when it is safer for everyone to meet together again. We hope that we can resume our program in 2022. More information for the 2022 ISF program is to come. 

Thank you in advance for your understanding as we work through this next phase of the pandemic. 

If you are interested in joining a specific lab on the project, we encourage you to reach out to the lab's principal investigator directly to inquire about future openings. If you need help identifying a lab that aligns with your skills and interests, please contact us.