BioSS 04-21 - Principal Scientist for Plant and Crop Sciences

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Posted: 11/03/2021 16:01
Start Date: Not Available
Salary: £49,205.00
Location: Dundee
Level: Hutton F
Deadline: 09/04/2021 23:59
Hours: 37
Benefits: Generous
Job Type: Permanent

BioSS seeks a motivated and innovative quantitative scientist to lead our work in the critical and expanding application area of Plant and Crop Sciences.  The post represents an excellent long-term career opportunity for an experienced statistician, mathematical modeller or quantitative scientist, offering a stimulating mix of work including: collaboration with plant and crop scientists at leading UK research institutions; interactions with other quantitative experts within and beyond BioSS; a generous time allocation within which to develop your own area of quantitative methodological research; and the opportunity to contribute actively to the leadership of BioSS as we continue to develop our strengths as a centre of quantitative applied research and consultancy.  BioSS is eligible to apply for UKRI funding, and we will be keen for the successful applicant to develop and lead proposals as we seek to grow our portfolio of such projects. This position will be based at the Invergowrie site of the James Hutton Institute, near Dundee.

BioSS is a member of the SEFARI (Scottish Environment, Food and Agriculture Research Institutes) collective (, and offers a stimulating working environment, with over 40 staff and students at four locations, collaborating on applications in plant & crop science, animal health & welfare, environmental science & ecology, and nutrition & human health.

Main Purpose of Job

  • Provision of scientific leadership in the application area of plant and crop science across BioSS and managing a local group of BioSS staff.
  • Development of a portfolio of personal research in applied statistics or at the interface between statistics and mathematical modelling motivated by quantitative problems encountered in collaborative projects.
  • Generating additional income for BioSS by leading applications for funding and by both managing and contributing to the resulting projects.

Main duties of postholder

  • Lead the BioSS group based at the James Hutton Institute in Dundee, managing two scientific staff.
  • Oversee BioSS inputs to the Scottish Government funded Strategic Research Programme made by the group in Dundee, or by other BioSS staff working in plant or crop science.
  • Represent BioSS at external meetings with stakeholders from scientific and non-scientific backgrounds.
  • Extend collaborative links with government agencies, NGOs, universities, research institutes and commercial organisations.
  • Deliver quantitative inputs to collaborative research projects across BioSS, focused on (but not limited to) plant and crop science activities at the James Hutton Institute.
  • Deliver research on applied statistical/mathematical modelling methods with clear relevance to the Scottish Government funded Strategic Research Programme.
  • Lead applications for funding, including calls from UKRI, and manage/deliver resulting projects as appropriate.
  • Contribute to the development and delivery of BioSS training courses for scientists.
  • Contribute to the general management of BioSS by participating on the BioSS Management Group, taking responsibility for selected BioSS corporate activities.



  • A PhD in statistics or another very closely related discipline, or an MSc with commensurate post-qualification development and work experience. 
  • Experience of development and use of modern quantitative methods applied to real-world examples.  Specific examples of desirable fields are given below.
  • A strong track record of research and/or collaboration evidenced by scientific journal and conference papers in a methodological field relevant to plant and crop science; experience in statistical genetics would be particularly welcome.
  • Evidence of ability to provide leadership in management and motivation of quantitative staff.
  • Evidence of ability to initiate, manage and maintain scientific collaborations.
  • The ability to work independently.
  • A promising track record of successful funding applications.
  • Enthusiasm for development and application of quantitative methods, and for collaborating with applied scientists in a range of science areas.
  • Strong general statistical skills, including an understanding of relevant areas such as: experimental design, mixed models, generalised linear models, generalised additive models.
  • Good statistical programming ability in R or other high-level statistical or mathematical programming platform.
  • Evidence of good written communication.
  • A willingness and an ability to give spoken presentations, for both quantitative and wider scientific audiences.


  • Experience in statistical genetics relevant to plant and crop genetics and breeding, such as linkage analysis, QTL mapping, genome-wide association studies or genomic prediction.
  • Experience in the application of mathematical and statistical methods to the objectives of maintaining biodiversity and increasing resilience of food production to climate change.
  • Experience in the application of statistical bioinformatics to gene expression data sets.
  • Experience of managing projects and communicating with government and commercial clients.


We are an equal opportunity employer.  We celebrate diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees, and encourage applications from underrepresented groups in STEM, particularly women, BAME and LGBTQ+.  We encourage flexible working and are happy to discuss options at interview stage.

BioSS has been awarded IiP Gold Status and is formally part of The James Hutton Institute, a Scottish charity No. SC041796.

The James Hutton Institute is a: Stonewall Diversity Champion; Athena SWAN Bronze Status Holder; Disability Confident Committed Employer and a Living Wage Employer.

You must have the right to work in the UK to be eligible for this position.

For further information, please visit the BioSS vacancies page at . To apply for the post, please visit .  Potential applicants may contact Dr Iain McKendrick ( to discuss this position.

This vacancy has now expired  Print