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  • Organization: CIMMYT - International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center
  • Location: Texcoco | Mexico
  • Grade: FG I, Function Group 1, Contract Agent - Administrative support
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Public Health and Health Service
    • Scientist and Researcher
    • Managerial positions
    • Agriculture and Forestry
  • Closing Date: 2018-12-17

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Scientist and Head, Seed Health Unit

Texcoco (Mexico) | Mexico

The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, known by its Spanish acronym, CIMMYT®, is a not-for-profit agricultural research for development organization with partners in over 100 countries. Please refer to our website for more information:

CIMMYT seeks a highly motivated, innovative, rigorous scientist who is keen to work with breeders, germplasm bank curators, pathologists, crop systems agronomists, seed specialists and others, providing leadership in the area of seed health and phytosanitary compliance. CIMMYT annually imports and exports hundreds of thousands of seed samples from and to dozens of countries. Ensuring the efficient movement of these seeds, while preventing the international movement of seed-transmitted or seed-borne pathogens is the principal responsibility of this position. The successful candidate will oversee the activities and staff of CIMMYT’s seed health laboratory, ensuring to maintain ISO-accredited (17025:2005) quality standards. The position requires excellent professional interaction skills with national phytosanitary authorities in Mexico, and frequent communication with pertinent authorities abroad, always maintaining technical rigor and professional courtesy.

The Head of the Seed Health Unit will monitor plant introduction blocks and seed production fields at CIMMYT sites in Mexico, implementing and documenting appropriate assays to detect, and recommending corrective actions to control adventitious presence of pathogens or transgenics. She or he will assist research station managers to develop and implement practices to prevent or manage pathogens that could threaten the safe storage and international movement of seed. The position advises and monitors compliance by CIMMYT’s regional offices with appropriate phytosanitary procedures.

The selected scientist will develop and collaborate with colleagues to develop, implement and publish innovative research in his/her area of expertise, e.g. seed health, seed storage, field and laboratory methods, and plant pathology. She/he will participate in capacity development activities, such as organizing short training workshops, hosting visiting technicians or scientists, and overseeing student research projects.

This position is of crucial importance to CIMMYT in managing the phytosanitary risks associated with seed movement and seed stewardship in our germplasm bank.

The position is based at CIMMYT’s campus in Texcoco, State of Mexico, located 45 km northeast of Mexico City, Mexico.

Specific duties:

  • Manage the Seed Health Laboratory in Mexico:
    • Supervise seed testing activities to ensure that seed are suitable for export, import or storage in the bank: ensure that protocols are in place; tests are conducted properly; supplies are well managed; results are reviewed/curated; maintain testing records.
    • Update protocols and techniques ensuring that methods keep pace with the literature and recent findings.
    • Be proactive and alert to detect and control emerging pathogens, even if not present on quarantine regulations or guidelines.
    • Mentor and oversee professional development of laboratory staff; insulate staff from pressure from clients.
    • Ensure that the laboratory operates within and maintains its ISO quality management standards.
  • Provide guidance and monitor compliance with appropriate phytosanitary standards at CIMMYT’s regional offices.
  • Conduct and collaborate with colleagues on research that contributes to seed health, seed quality or other aspects of this position.
  • Maintain excellent, professional relationship with national phytosanitary authorities (e.g. public relations, import/export authorizations).
  • Provide technical advice and occasionally lead actions related to the phytosanitary management of research stations.
  • Provide internal and external training. 

Required academic qualifications, skills and attitudes:

  • PhD in plant pathology, seed health or similarly pertinent field.
  • Fluency in English; minimum of intermediate levels of verbal and written Spanish.
  • Hands-on laboratory and field experience with plant diseases; preferably for maize and/or wheat.
  • Experience with field monitoring of diseases.
  • Experience in seed health and methods to monitor viral, bacterial and fungal pathogens.
  • Laboratory management experience using a rigorous quality management system, e.g. ISO.
  • The selected candidate must exhibit the following competencies: Decision-making, Strategic Staffing, Delegation, Collaboration, People Management, Innovation and Creativity, Customer orientation, Strategic thinking, Problem Solving, Communication and Multi-Cultural Awareness.

The position is for an initial fixed-term of three (3) years, after which further employment is subject to performance and the continued availability of funds. CIMMYT’s internationally competitive salary and benefits include housing allowance, car, comprehensive health and life insurance, assistance for children’s education, paid vacation, annual airfare, contribution to a retirement plan, and generous assistance with relocation shipment.

Candidates must apply here for IRS18145_Scientist and Head, Seed Health Unit. Screening and follow up of applications will begin on Monday, December 17, 2018. Applications must include a CV and a letter of interest. Incomplete applications will not be considered. For further information on the selection process, please contact Yessica Castillo, at For further reference about the position, please contact Dr. Kevin Pixley, at

Please note that only short-listed candidates will be contacted.

This position will remain open until filled. 

CIMMYT is an equal opportunity employer. It fosters a multicultural work environment that values gender equality, teamwork, and respect for diversity. Women are encouraged to apply.

We do our best to provide you the most accurate info, but closing dates may be wrong on our site. Please check on the recruiting organization's page for the exact info. Candidates are responsible for complying with deadlines and are encouraged to submit applications well ahead.
Before applying, please make sure that you have read the requirements for the position and that you qualify.
Applications from non-qualifying applicants will most likely be discarded by the recruiting manager.

What does it mean?

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