Open faculty position

Chris Somerville crs at
Wed Jul 29 19:10:44 EST 1998

I have had a number of questions about the following ad for an open
faculty position at Carnegie/Stanford which recently appeared in
Science.  The uncertaintly concerns our focus on "environmental
problems".  Let me just say that we have a very broad view of what
this means.  For example, we are interested in supporting basic
research on any subject that will make plants more productive without
increasing inputs (eg., pest or pathogen resistance).  We are
interested in basic research on anything that increases the
efficiency with which we use plants (eg., modified wood composition
might decrease the loss of 50% of the biomass during pulp and paper
manufacture - in addition to decreasing the pollution).  We are
particularly interested in understanding fundamental mechanisms of
growth and development  (eg, why is a B. napus plant so much larger
than Arabidopsis?).  In short, the field of research is open.
      I must add, however, that I am very concerned about the
consequences to the planets ecosystems of continuing to add 80
million people each year.  I believe that we (plant biologists) must
be proactive about examining the ways in which we can diminish
the environmental consequences of population pressure.   As an
example of the pressure - today we grow wheat on 600 million hectares
worldwide.  If we were growing the same cultivars that were used in
1965 we would need 1,400 million hectares to produce the same amount
of wheat.  That is 800 million hectares of "marginal" land that we
have not been obliged to exploit for food production.  Can we do this
again? Can we do it in a way that is sustainable and does not lead
to social dislocations?  My personal conviction is that the progress
in Arabidopsis genetics and other areas of plant biology will allow
us to make improvements on many fronts.  However, I believe that it
will not happen passively.  Unlike the people who created the green
revolution - most basic plant biologists  are not in touch with
how discoveries can be translated into something useful.   I don't
think there is any magic solution to this but I would like to find a
few colleagues who at least think about the problems.  So that is the
real bottom line on the "environmental" focus.  If you share my
concerns I would encourage you to apply.  Carnegie/Stanford
is a very stimulating environment and a beautiful place to live and
Chris Somerville

****************************The ad **********************************

Applications are invited for a faculty position at The Carnegie
Institution of Washington, Department of Plant Biology at Stanford
University.  We are particularly interested in identifying an
outstanding colleague with basic research interests in some aspect of
plant biology that may contribute towards the understanding or
amelioration of environmental problems.  In this context, we will
consider applications from individuals with interests ranging from
biotechnology to ecology.  For instance, we envision that advances in
understanding the molecular mechanisms of plant growth and development
may permit the development of highly productive crops that require
minimal inputs.  We also envision that improved understanding of
ecosystems may facilitate the design of improved strategies for
biodiversity conservation.

The Carnegie does not have a system of academic rank but salary will
be commensurate with experience and level of acccomplishment.
Applications should include a curriculum vitae, three reprints of
representative publications and a concise statement of present and
future research plans.  Complete applications and three letters of
recommendation should be received no later than August 15, 1998.
Please mail applications to Chris Somerville, Director, Carnegie
Institution of Washington, 260 Panama Street, Stanford CA 94305.

The Carnegie Institution of Washington is an Affirmative Action/Equal
Opportunity Employer.
Chris Somerville
260 Panama Street
Stanford CA 94305

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