Nursery Plant Health & Clean Stock Research Scientist

  • Location: US - Watsonville, California
  • Job Family: Research & Development
  • Time Type: Full time
  • Job Requisition ID: R0004541
  • Experience Years: 3-5 Years of Experience
  • Employee Type: Regular

About the Opportunity

The successful candidate will lead our global work with the four breeding departments and work closely with each business units’ nursery clean stock and plant health programmatic leads. This will involve developing, documenting and auditing our nurseries’ deployment of preventative systems-based pathogen testing and handling procedures as well as managing genetic fidelity. Work will include updating our existing clean stock standards for all four berries, monitoring program implementation, and ultimately ensure Driscoll’s plants are free of economically important pathogens and horticulturally true-to-type. This position is in the Global Plant Health group and joins a group of senior scientists with expertise in international management of berry pathogens and pests. The successful candidate together with colleagues will collectively lead integration of data and information to create robust plant health systems for the Driscoll’s enterprise.


  • Develop, optimize and deploy clean stock programs for all 4 berry crops.
  • Refine, update and document breeding and nursery clean stock standard operating procedures.
  • Ensure correct processes are in place and being followed in breeding, nursery, and plant pathology/clean stock departments that ensure our plants are free of economically important diseases and are true-to-type. 
  • In cooperation with company Information Systems and nursery colleagues develop tools to handle all record keeping and reporting tasks related to clean stock.
  • Work cross-functionally and across regions to extend clean stock programs.
  • Assess and formally audit nursery clean stock programs.
  • Refine and update metrics to assess how well we are meeting our clean stock goals.
  • Update audit tools and methods for assessing clean stock programs. 
  • Audit our nurseries to ensure they are operating in compliance with our clean stock standards. 
  • In collaboration with nursery and plant health colleagues lead high priority research projects in plant pathology and clean stock. This could involve novel non-chemical treatments that contribute to sustainable nursery plant production and/or development of novel tools for determining cultivar genetic fidelity.    
  • Understand and engage with phytosanitary regulatory community for berry crops.
  • Serve on state, federal and international committees related to phytosanitary risk management.
  • Work with regulators around proper handling of phytosanitary risk and protection of natural and agricultural resources, including creative solutions that can increase the speed of genetic deployment. 
  • Conduct diagnostics and plant tissue testing to ensure clean stock and facilitate outsource testing when appropriate.
  • With assistance from department colleagues and breeders conduct diagnostic testing (graft indexing, classical, serological, molecular) for economically important pathogens, or liaison with external labs. Report the results to the nursery in a timely manner.
  • Other duties as assigned.

Candidate Profile

  • PhD degree in plant pathology or other relevant field of study.
  • Three plus years of experience in plant pathology, including classical and molecular pathology methods.  
  • Literacy and experience in bioinformatics and high throughput sequencing would be desirable for a candidate. Knowledge of databases and information systems also valuable. 
  • Ability to work independently to carry work forward is required but balanced with need to be highly collaborative with others in the R&D group.
  • Knowledge of plants and their cultivation in greenhouse and field.
  • High organizational skills, attention to detail and ability to manage data.
  • The ability to successfully work with a diverse cross-cultural team.
  • Individual should be a self-starter and enjoy the challenge of working in a growing company.
  • Excellent communication & presentation skills required. California driver’s license and the ability to be covered under company-sponsored vehicle insurance program are also required.
  • Hold valid passport. Willingness for occasional domestic or international travel up to 20%.

About Driscolls

Driscoll's is the global market leader for fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. With more than 100 years of farming heritage and hundreds of independent growers around the world, Driscoll's is passionate about growing fresh, beautiful and delicious berries. Our values of humility, passion and trustworthiness have guided our mission to delight consumers around the world.

Driscoll's exclusive patented berry varieties are developed through years of research using only natural breeding methods – meaning, no GMOs. From farm-to-table, we focus on delivering a high quality, premium berry experience with our many supply chain partners.

Driscoll's is the trusted brand for Only the Finest Berries™.

Driscoll's es el proveedor líder en la comercialización de Fresas, Frambuesas, Zarzamoras y Arándanos Azules en el mundo. Con más de 100 años de herencia en agricultura y cientos de productores independiente alrededor del mundo, Driscoll's es una compañía apasionada por cultivar Berries frescas, hermosas y deliciosas. Nuestros valores de humildad, pasión y confianza han guiado nuestra misión de deleitar a los consumidores en el mundo.

Las variedades exclusivas de Driscoll's han sido desarrolladas a través de años de investigación usando sólo métodos de mejoramiento natural. De la granja a la mesa, nos enfocamos en ofrecer una experiencia de alta calidad con apoyo de nuestros socios de la cadena de suministro.

Driscoll's es la marca de confianza de sólo las mejores Berries.