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Data Science Associate

The laboratory of Dr. Christopher Topp at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is a plant root phenomics lab, innovating uses of 3D imaging modalities to investigate roots and their environment. We are seeking someone interested in plant biology and image analysis to help process and measure digitized plant samples using both external and internal analysis tools.

This involves maintaining a robust computational infrastructure–including dedicated workstations, storage and processing servers, virtual machines, internal code bases, third-party software licenses, VR systems, cloud storage, databases, resource provisioning, development environments, and data management. This plays a key role in cutting-edge research and analytics to solve problems in agricultural sustainability. The role allows for creativity and autonomy in the design and development of tools and procedures. The successful candidate will be organized, independent, creative, have strong communication skills, desire to learn, and work with outstanding collaborative capability.

  • Provides support for research software tools (e.g., write SOPs, perform updates, troubleshooting)
  • Works closely with computational scientist and other lab members to enhance existing processes
  • Works directly with our IT department and Data Science Facility to provision and maintain computational resources–both hardware and software
  • Maintains and provides support for workstations (Windows, Debian/Ubuntu) and servers (CentOS)
  • Manage research data and storage media (e.g., files, database, documentation making up 500+ TiB)
  • Occasionally help with data collections from agronomic fields, greenhouses, and wet lab
  • Train lab members on how to use pipelines and related tools (e.g., VNC)
  • Duties, responsibilities and activities may change or new ones may be assigned at any time with or without notice

Required knowledge, skills, and abilities:
  • Goal-oriented, creative individual who thrives in a dynamic and collaborative environment
  • Able to organize, multitask their time efficiently and work both independently and collaboratively within a multidisciplinary and interactive research environment
  • Effective communication skills and ability to produce high-quality oral and written research products
  • Strong problem solving and critical thinking skills
  • Strong understanding or exposure to Linux operating systems and familiarity with tools used to manage packages (dnf/yum/apt), compiling from source (i.e., Makefile), and routine system maintenance and troubleshooting
  • Strong proficiency with Python and its ecosystem, including data science and scientific computing
  • Strong proficiency in C/C++ (Exposure Go is acceptable)
  • Familiar with relational databases (SQL)
  • Familiar with version control systems (Git) and GitHub
  • Comfortable working with custom file formats, both binary and plan text formats
  • Live the Danforth Center values: Collaboration, Diversity & Inclusion, Innovation, Integrity & Respect, Environmental Sustainability, and Stewardship.

Preferred knowledge, skills, and abilities:
  • Familiar with image segmentation and image analysis concepts
  • Strong competency in scientific computing for both development (C++, Matlab, Python) and specialized third-party tools (e.g., samtools)
  • Able to quickly learn new libraries, frameworks, and tools
  • Excellent documentation skills and use of self-documenting code
  • Comfortable with packaging and distribution (Python/PyPI, Matlab, R/CRAN, Debian/RHEL, or similar)
  • Familiar with any of the following languages: C++, Python2/3, Matlab, R, Shell, Java, Makefile, SQL
  • Experience with data management and its best practices for dealing with both large files (40+ GiB) and numerous files (800,000+) per dataset
  • Strong understanding of the computer components, how they interact, and their relative tiers

  • B.Sc. in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Information Technology or similar degree

  • Cover letter clearly describing research interest and career goals
  • CV
  • Contact information for three (3) professional references

About the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center:
Founded in 1998, The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is an independent, non-profit organization with a mission to improve the human condition through plant science. Our focus is scientific research at the nexus of food, energy and the environment to improve the productivity and sustainability of agriculture. We assemble interactive teams of scientists and develop unique platforms to discover underlying principles about how plants work. We then convert that knowledge into useful crops and products, and partner with organizations that are best positioned to solve problems where they exist around the world. The Center’s work is funded through competitive grants from many sources, including the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Energy, National Science Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is proudly an equal employment opportunity employer. Employment decisions at the Danforth Center are based on merit, qualifications, and abilities. It is our policy that the Danforth Center does not discriminate in employment opportunities on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or national origin and status as protected veterans or individuals with disabilities. As a federal contractor, the Danforth Center is required to comply with the 2021 Executive Order mandating full vaccination status of employees by December 8, 2021 unless the employee is legally entitled to an accommodation due to physical disability or sincerely held religious belief. If you need a reasonable accommodation to access the information provided on this web site, please contact Human Resources, at 314-587-1033 for further assistance.