ILRI MSc Graduate Fellowship: Genetic diversity study in a Napier grass collection

  • Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Feed and Forages Biosciences

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) seeks to recruit a MSc graduate fellow under its Feed and Forage Development Program. The fellow will be studying the genetic diversity of a Napier grass (Cenchrus purpureus) collection. Napier grass, also called elephant grass, is one of the most important tropical forage grasses known for its high biomass yield, year-round availability under irrigated conditions, and resistance to most pests and diseases.

ILRI works to improve food and nutritional security and reduce poverty in developing countries through research for efficient, safe and sustainable use of livestock. It is the only one of 15 CGIAR research centres dedicated entirely to animal agriculture research for the developing world. Co-hosted by Kenya and Ethiopia, it has regional or country offices and projects in East, South and Southeast Asia as well as Central, East, Southern and West Africa.

The position

The ILRI Genebank holds over 100 accessions and progeny seeds produced naturally from different accessions. However, little information exists on the amount of diversity held in this collection and how this relates to collections held in other genebanks. Generating more information and understanding the diversity in the collection, in the progeny and in accessions sourced from other genebanks for germplasm enhancement will enhance the conservation and utilization of the genetic resources. Thus, the graduate fellow will work together with ILRI scientists to assess the genetic diversity in the collections and progeny plants through genotyping and phenotypic characterization. This position would be part of a team working with forage genetic resource characterization and conservation.

The ILRI Feed and Forage Development program has an established molecular laboratory and bioinformatics capabilities to support this research based in ILRI Ethiopia. In addition, the Integrated Genotyping Service and Support (IGSS) platform and broader BecA-ILRI capabilities are available at ILRI Kenya to support this work. Under the supervision of ILRI scientists, the graduate fellow will genotype the Napier grass collection in the genebank to identify the amount of genetic diversity in the collection and progeny plants. The fellow will be based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with travel to Nairobi, Kenya as necessary.

Project Title:  Genetic diversity study in a Napier grass (Cenchrus purpureus) collection and progeny plants

Terms of Reference:

  • Literature review on out-crossing nature and diversity in Napier grass
  • Raise seedlings from seeds of Napier grass in greenhouse
  • Isolate DNA from Napier grass seedlings and submit to IGSS for genotyping 
  • Data analysis and write-up (at least 1 poster and 1 peer-reviewed journal publication)

Position Requirements:

  • Degree in Plant Science, Biological Sciences, or a related field
  • Registered at a University, completed MSc course work and ready to start his/her thesis project
  • Demonstrated experience working in molecular genetics, quantitative genetics or bioinformatics
  • Work experience in organizing and implementing laboratory/field/glasshouse work
  • Work experience in DNA extraction and analysis
  • Good working knowledge of MS Office packages
  • Experience contributing to writing reports and journal publications
  • An effective and energetic team player with the ability to work in a multidisciplinary and multi-cultural environment
  • Ability to work independently, multi-task and meet tight deadlines
  • Proficiency with written and spoken English
  • Able to travel, depending on project needs

Duration of fellowship: 6 months (with the possibility of extension)

Location: ILRI Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Terms of appointment:

ILRI will offer a stipend to cover living expenses in the project location, medical insurance and cover research expenses. The fellowship will NOT cover university fees or tuition costs. The successful candidate will be supervised jointly by an ILRI scientist and the university/academic supervisor.

Applications: Interested applicants should send a cover letter and CV expressing their interest in the position, what they can bring to the role and the names and addresses (including telephone and email) of three referees who are knowledgeable about the candidate’s professional qualifications and work experience to the Director, People and Organizational Development through our recruitment portal by clicking on the "Apply Now" tab, above by 12th July 2019. The position title and reference number: FF/GF/02/2019 should be clearly marked on the subject line of the online application.

We thank all applicants for their interest in working for ILRI. Due to the volume of applications, only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

ILRI does not charge a fee at any stage of the recruitment process (application, interview meeting, processing or training). ILRI also does not concern itself with information on applicants' bank accounts.

To find out more about ILRI visit our website at  

ILRI is an equal opportunity employer

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