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Project Scientist (Assistant) with the Local Farm and Food Innovation Initiative (F3 Local) AP# 23-37

Date Posted: April 29, 2024
Closing Date: June 6, 2024

Job Description: Download

Position Overview

Location Headquarters:   UC Davis, Department of Food Science and Technology

The University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) offers a unique recruitment opportunity for a Project Scientist (Assistant Rank) with the Local Farm and Food Innovation Initiative (F3 Local). UC ANR coordinates a statewide network of researchers and educators in partnership with Counties that are dedicated to the development and application of knowledge to address local agricultural, environmental, youth, and health issues. Over 200 UC ANR UCCE academics conduct research, outreach and education from locally based Cooperative Extension offices in over 70 locations. Our mission is to bring the University of California directly to Californians through research, extension, and education programs that support:

  • Sustainable, safe, and nutritious food production and delivery
  • Economic success in a global economy
  • A sustainable, healthy, and productive environment
  • Science literacy and youth development

By working and living among those we serve, UC ANR expands the University of California’s reach to engage all people and communities in California, ensuring equal access to the UC system.


Purpose and Clientele:

The Project Scientist will conduct research and contribute to outreach and extension efforts to support development of scale-appropriate processing methods and value-added products for local food businesses and small-scale food entrepreneurs.  Research efforts will focus on developing and improving processing and preservation technologies that are effective at control, removal or inactivation of pathogens and spoilage microorganisms in products developed from local, niche, and emerging specialty crops. These efforts will also support the development of new recipes and products that can be used by the UC Master Food Preserver Program and Cottage Food operations. This position is part of the F3 Local Initiative (f3local.org), and the Project Scientist will work as part of a team of academics and extension professionals to increase economic development opportunities for local, small-scale farms and food businesses in Fresno, Madera, and Merced Counties.

Major Duties and Responsibilities:                   

Research (65%):
  • Contribute creatively and collaboratively to an active research program to develop and evaluate safe procedures for small-scale processing of specialty crops and production of value-added products relevant to small-scale farms and food businesses in the San Joaquin Valley region.
  • Design and conduct research projects, including selecting appropriate methods and techniques, to develop strategies to reduce, control or prevent cross contamination during processing, packaging, transportation and /or storage of value-added food products. Areas of emphasis may include any of the following: microbial ecology, food processing or preservation technologies, pathogen detection, and quantitative risk assessment.
  • Work with collaborative teams of UC ANR academics, campus-based specialists, county-based staff, and community stakeholders to develop new peer-reviewed recipes that can be used by the UC Master Food Preserver Program, Cottage Food Operators, small-scale farmers, and food businesses producing and marketing value-added products.
  • Supervise students or technicians on technical aspects of research, including methods development, troubleshooting issues, interpreting results, and planning subsequent experiments.
Outreach and Extension (20%):
  • Plan, organize, and participate in programs designed to educate clientele including small farms, food entrepreneurs, processors, community partners, and public agencies about proper food production, processing, distribution, retailing, and handling procedures that reduce microbiological food safety risks.
  • Develop extension programs including print and electronic materials that address technical and regulatory policy in food safety for small-scale and local growers, cottage food processors and food entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized food processors.
  • Collaborate with F3 Local Initiative staff and partners to collect local and regional information and to connect with small-scale value-added food producers.
  • Prepare extension publications to disseminate research results. Participate in conferences and workshops.
  • May maintain liaison and respond to the needs of various industry organizations, state and federal agencies, and other external groups on issues related to food safety for small-scale processing and food preservation methods.

Professional Competence and Activity (15%):
  • Prepare high-quality written materials including reports, program and project impact statements, blog posts, briefings, executive summaries, and presentations.
  • Conduct literature reviews and summarize existing research relevant to projects.
  • Prepare peer-reviewed journal articles for publication.
  • Contribute to regular project reporting of activities and deliverables.
  • Prepare and give presentations at professional meetings, conferences, and stakeholder convenings.
  • Participate in appropriate professional/technical societies or groups and other educational and research organizations.
  • Participate in activities of committees within UC ANR as appropriate to project activities.


Reporting Relationship: The Project Scientist serves under the administrative guidance of the University of California ANR Regional Director, Small Food and Farm Innovation with programmatic guidance from the local supervisor in the Department of Food Science and Technology at UC Davis.

Qualifications and Skills Required 

Education: A minimum of a Ph.D. degree in food science, food safety, microbiology, or a closely related field is required at the time of appointment.

Required Qualifications: · 

  • Experience using microbial detection methods for foods and knowledge of microbial detection methods for microorganisms in foods and related laboratory skills. 
  • Understanding of food safety regulations such as Food Safety Modernization Act, HACCP, and low acid canned food regulations.
  • Experience conducting hazard analysis and validation studies.

Preferred Qualifications

  • One or more industry and regulatory certifications such as the Food Safety Modernization Act Preventive Control Qualified Individual certification, Better Process Control School certificate of completion, Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule Grower training certificate.
  • Experience conducting research related to the safety of foods and product development.
  • Experience in extension education, community development, or community-based partnerships.

Additional Requirements

  • Ability to work independently and seek guidance when needed, demonstrated through academic research, professional experience, or a combination.
  • Excellent verbal, written, and interpersonal communication skills and presentation skills.
  • Ability and means to travel on a flexible schedule as needed, proof of liability and property damage insurance on vehicles used is required. Must possess a valid California Driver's License to drive a County or University vehicle.
  • This is not a remote position. The candidate must be available to work onsite. In accordance with UC ANR Flexible Work Guidelines flexible work agreements are available upon approval by supervisors and periodic re-evaluation.


Skills Required:   To be successful, a Project Scientist requires skills in the following:

Technical Competence and Impact

  • Interact with collaborating scientists to achieve project objectives.
  • Collect and analyze data for agency reporting and journal publications. Participate in extension education and outreach activities.


  • Demonstrated excellence in written, oral, interpersonal and information technology communication skills and ability to extend information to a variety of audiences including students, staff, faculty, and industry stakeholders.
  • Skills to communicate and extend technical information to diverse audiences are required.
  • Participation in professional societies and conferences and ability to give presentations at seminars and continuing education functions.

Collaboration, Teamwork and Flexibility

  • Strong problem-solving skills and ability to simultaneously manage multiple projects
  • Demonstrated ability to work collaboratively as a team member with others.
  • Able to adapt as circumstances warranted.
  • Promote diversity, equity and inclusion.

Lifelong Learning

  • Demonstrated commitment to ongoing self-improvement.


About UC ANR

The University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) consists of a network of scientists and educators working in partnership across the state of California.  We are committed to developing and supporting healthy food systems, healthy environments, healthy communities, and healthy Californians.  UC ANR administers Statewide Programs and Initiatives (SWP/I’s) that focus research and extension on solving priority problems that engage ANR academics and UC faculty in integrated teams to work on complex issues requiring trans-disciplinary approaches; as well as UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE), which is responsible for program development and delivery in counties throughout the state.


Learn more about

Salary & Benefits

SALARYThe beginning salary will be in the Assistant Project Scientist Rank from Step 1 - $71,500 to Step 4 $82,900 annually.  Step placement in this series is based on experience.  For information regarding the Project Scientist non-represented series salary scales, please refer to  https://www.ucop.edu/academic-personnel-programs/_files/2023-24/july-2023-acad-salary-scales/t37-b.pdf   This is a represented position.

The Assistant Project Scientist position is a limited term appointment.  The merit cycle is every two years.   The performance in the position will be evaluated annually.  The position will be extended based on the continued need for the position, performance and availability of funding.

Benefits: The University of California offers comprehensive benefits including health insurance, retirement plans, two days per month paid vacation, one day per month paid sick leave, and holidays. For more information, refer to the UC Benefits website at: https://ucnet.universityofcalifornia.edu/compensation-and-benefits/index.html.

How to Apply

If interested in this position, please visit: https://recruit.ucanr.edu/ and choose “applicants” (refer to position #23-27)

Closing Date: To assure full consideration, application packets must be received by June 6, 2024 (open until filled).


Recruitment Questions:  Contact Mikyla Perez – email: mikperez@ucanr.edu

“Please note that successful applicants are responsible for ensuring work authorization without need of employer sponsorship for the duration of the appointment period.”


University of California Cooperative Extension

As a University employee, you will be required to comply with all applicable University policies and/or collective bargaining agreements, as may be amended from time to time.  Federal, state, or local government directives may impose additional requirements.  

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age, protected veteran status or other protected categories covered by the UC nondiscrimination policy. 

As of January 1, 2014, ANR is a smoke- and tobacco-free environment in which smoking, the use of smokeless tobacco products, and the use of unregulated nicotine products (e-cigarettes), is strictly prohibited