Vacancy Information

Senior Group Leaders - Quantitative Genetics & Pre-Breeding


Location: Cambridgeshire
Closing date: 15 Mar 2021
Reference number: SV/A1122

Job details

We are seeking experienced research leaders from both academic and industry backgrounds to provide outstanding scientific leadership, delivering innovative and internationally competitive research programmes to underpin NIAB’s leading position in translational crop research, especially in the area of cereal genetics. NIAB strives to deliver the crop science solutions required for highly productive, sustainable agriculture and horticulture. NIAB is focused on delivering the solutions required for sustainable, resilient, net zero agriculture, leveraging its unique position in the UK research landscape and its broad skills in farming systems and systems-level approaches to problem solving. 

The Crop Science Centre, NIAB’s alliance with the University of Cambridge, ( places NIAB at the heart of future impact-oriented international research and development and is part of a £25 million redevelopment of NIAB’s Cambridge estate.

Headquartered in Cambridge, with a major site at East Malling, Kent and at key strategic locations across the UK, NIAB has unique capabilities and expertise, delivering both high quality research and an array of statutory and sought-after services to public and private stakeholders.

NIAB has an excellent track record of strategic research in genetics and pre-breeding of arable crops, providing key resources for cereals (especially wheat) and protein crops (Vicia faba). Similarly, our strengths in farming systems, applied pathology, potato agronomy and horticulture research help the UK industry remain productive and resilient.

Our services include statutory DUS testing supporting Plant Breeders Rights, seed certification and testing, delivery of recommended and national list trials as well as a range of contract research, trials and other services to the agri-food sector. As such we have a unique combination of capabilities offering the opportunity for multidisciplinary collaborations.

Research Areas

NIAB has an ambitious five year plan for growth; in delivering this we are seeking to appoint established research leaders at our Cambridge site in:

Quantitative and statistical genetics:
• Quantitative genetics is of key importance at NIAB Cambridge, with our unique pre-breeding genetic resources in cereals and legumes (e.g. synthetic wheat and MAGIC populations), as well as our wealth of field-derived trait data. Candidates with expertise in statistical genetics (e.g. genomic prediction) and genotype x environment interactions are especially welcome. We are seeking to integrate our quantitative genetics activity with the related areas of crop modelling, machine learning and plant phenomics which are all key areas of ongoing work at NIAB.
• Pre-breeding has been a major pillar of activity at NIAB for over a decade and NIAB has provided many of the underpinning resources to the wheat community that have enabled functional characterisation of cereal crops. Many of these have been delivered or utilised in partnership with the plant breeding industry. Looking forward we seek to further utilise our diverse collections of material to integrate resilience traits into crops, to aid in the design and deployment of sustainable cropping systems, nationally and internationally and are searching for candidates with expertise in small grain breeding and pre-breeding research and development.


• Build and strengthen NIAB’s world leading flagship programme especially in wheat/small grain genetics.
• Plan and deliver internationally competitive research proposals alone and in collaboration with others, as Principal Investigator, and by mentoring/coaching and collaborating with members of the broader Genetics and Breading group in the conception, preparation and delivery of their own proposals.
• Regularly publish peer reviewed papers, targeting appropriate journals
• Externally, play a key role in the national and international advocacy of cereal pre-breeding and/or quantitative genetics in the broadest sense; where NIAB is recognised for unique strengths.
• Be involved at a senior level in positioning and strategically developing NIAB’s research capacity and capability for the next 10-20 years, consolidating NIAB’s position as one of the premier translational institutions in agriculture worldwide.
• Lead a group or research area and secure funding from appropriate sources (e.g. BBSRC, Innovate UK, NERC, EU Horizon 2020, Global Challenges Research Fund. AHDB and commercial sources).
• Encourage innovation and application of science across NIAB
• Identify and encourage outstanding researchers to join NIAB and to train and mentor promising young scientists through our tenure track programme
Group Leaders and Senior Group leaders are expected to secure and manage portfolios of research funding (the value of which is dependent upon grade) and be highly visible members of their research fields.

Specifically, we wish to appoint to the following roles:

One or more senior group leader posts – NIAB Crop Research (Cambridge).  These roles will command a salary in the range of £46,908 up to £75,000 depending upon skills, experience and qualifications.
Informal enquiries to:
NIAB Cambridge- Crop Research posts – Richard Harrison (

Further details, a job description and an application form are available at: or from the HR Office, NIAB, 93 Lawrence Weaver Rd, Cambridge CB3 0LE, Tel No. 01223 342282, Email: