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Icipe – African Insect Science for Food and Health – Scientist (Chemical Ecologist)

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VACANCY ANNOUNCEMENT

(Ref. No. IRS/583 /092023)

SCIENTIST (CHEMICAL ECOLOGIST)

International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) is a pan-African Centre of excellence in research for development and capacity building in insect science and its applications. Its mission is to help alleviate poverty, ensure food and nutritional security and improve the overall health status of people of the tropics. It does so by developing and extending management tools and strategies for harmful and useful arthropods while preserving the natural resource base. Since its establishment in 1970, icipe has become a significant contributor to science and innovation required to meet the health and food security challenges of sub-Saharan Africa. The Centre has achieved this status by developing alternative and environmentally friendly pest and vector management technologies and products that are effective, selective, non-polluting, non-resistance inducing, and affordable to resource-limited rural and urban communities. icipe is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya and has operations in more than 40 African countries as well as thriving partnerships with universities and research organizations across the world. Employing over 500 international and national staff, icipe also has approximately 150 graduate students who contribute to its research portfolio annually. For additional information, visit: www.icipe.org

icipe is seeking to appoint an outstanding, dynamic and self-motivated individual to fill the position of Scientist (Chemical Ecologist), to provide research and programmatic leadership to the Behavioural and Chemical Ecology Unit (BCEU) in support of the achievement of the objectives, vision and mission of the Centre. To review icipe’s Vision and Strategy 2021–2025, download this at: http://www.icipe.org/system/files_force/about/corporate_publications_files/icipe_Vision_and_Strategy _2021-2025.pdf?download=1

The position is tenable in Nairobi at the icipe Duduville campus and will be offered for an initial contract of 3 years, renewable subject to continued funding and performance of the staff member. A competitive and generous compensation package that includes housing and transport allowances, education allowance, comprehensive health and life insurance cover, and an offshore retirement package (all payable in US Dollars), will be offered to the right candidate. Furthermore, the incumbent will receive paid annual vacation and return airfare for themselves and their dependents to their nominated home base each year. If the successful candidate is appointed from outside Kenya, s/he will be offered support to relocate and settle in Nairobi.

Living in Nairobi, Kenya

Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, is cosmopolitan with a population of over four million people. It hosts all the urban and social amenities, and offers a comfortable, convenient and pleasurable life. A wide variety of excellent international schools and well-equipped medical facilities are open 24/7 in Nairobi. The city is also accessible by various reputable international airline carriers. Nairobi is a regional hub of many commercial and non-governmental organizations and has a thriving international research scene, hosting various CGIAR centres, as well as several UN agencies.

Overall purpose of the job

Insects (pests, vectors, pollinators etc.) are heavily dependent on their olfactory system to understand their environment and rely on semio-chemicals for intra-and interspecific communication. Insect chemical communication shapes the structure and functioning of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, maintaining their equilibrium and providing crucial ecosystem services that are of great importance to livelihoods and humanity. In time of climate change, each step in this communication process may be altered (positively or negatively) by climate change-associated parameters and the proposed scientist in collaboration with icipe 4H-Theme and assess how climate change-related factors affect insect communication, develop and optimize the existing pest and vector control tools suited to changing climate and apply a systematic approach to address knowledge gaps and cross-disciplinary adaptive research.

The overall purpose is to work within the research group focused on developing and implementing environmentally friendly pest and vector control tools in the time of climate change to counter the threat of direct pests, vectors and the diseases they spread that affect livelihoods. The holder will contribute to developing environmentally sound pest and vector control tools to manage pest and vector and climate adaptation in relevant 4H-Theme of icipe.

  • The envisaged studies will include elucidating pest-crop and vector-host interaction, and the impact of climate variables for the host-pest/vector interaction.
  • Translate knowledge into tools for control purposes and for climate adaptation.
  • Investigating how abiotic and biotic factors modulate host metabolites.
  • Coordinate a balance of basic and applied research understanding the behaviour, the mechanism of various pest-plant, and vector-host interactions in different agro-ecologies that will lead to the discovery of control tools besides knowledge generation.

Specific Duties:

  • To undertake high-quality research on how pests and vectors respond to ecologically relevant biotic and abiotic factors in a complex changing climate and chemical environment.
  • Investigate the neuroethology of pest-crop and vector-host interaction.
  • Investigate multitrophic level interactions among various crops, and pest pathogens interaction across diverse ecologies.
  • Investigate the impacts of biotic and abiotic factors on host metabolites.
  • Design laboratory and field-based assays to evaluate novel pest and vector control tools.
  • Isolate, and identify plant metabolites and other signalling compounds that have the function for pest communication, host defence and adaptation.
  • Assess the potential and efficacy of various vector control tools developed (in collaboration with the relevant 4H -Theme of icipe and technology transfer Unit of icipe and optimize accordingly.
  • Participate in the development of project proposals to strengthen the application of Chemical Ecology in one health concept.
  • Give training on electrophysiological techniques and supervise junior scientists and graduate students (MSc and PhD) in the chemical ecology field.
  • Publish research outputs in high-quality peer-reviewed journals.

Requirements/Qualifications

  • PhD in Entomology/Chemical ecology.
  • At least 3 years of postdoctoral experience in a relevant research area.
  • Broad knowledge of chemical ecology/neuroethology, olfaction, and electrophysiological techniques (GC-MS, GC-EAD, single sensillum recording, behavioral bioassay etc.) as evidenced by publications in peer-reviewed high-impact journals.
  • Strong mathematical and big data processing is a plus.
  • Excellent oral and written English communication skills.
  • Proven experience in conducting chemical ecology research, including fieldwork and laboratory experiments.

Other desirable attributes

  • Contribute to the instrumental and statistical designs, reporting, budgeting and data analysis in support of the research activities within icipe’s 4H- Theme.
  • Supervise activities in chemical ecology-related activities including technical staff and students.
  • Contribute to the management of scientific activities within the Unit.
  • Use the allocated fund responsibly to achieve the stated objectives and deliverables.
  • At least 5 publications in the relevant field in a peer-reviewed journal.
  • Significant contribution and good track record to the preparation of at least two successfully funded proposals annually.
  • Demonstrate involvement in donor relations or building fund-raising coalitions with partners.
  • Contributes to the internal and external relations with stakeholders in relation to the scope of their activities including training, research, or proposal development with partners.
  • Participate in different scientific committees and presentations in various forums within the donor community.

Reporting

This position reports to the Senior Scientist and Head of Behavioural and Chemical Ecology Unit.

HOW TO APPLY

Applications will be accepted up to 30th October 2023. Interested applicants should submit (a) a confidential cover letter; (b) a detailed CV with names and addresses of 3 referees (including e-mail addresses); (c) a statement illustrating suitability against the listed qualifications /competencies/ abilities and skills; (d) five (5) published papers relevant to this position.

Candidates are required to apply online through: http://recruit.icipe.org or by Email:recruitment@icipe.org

icipe is an equal-opportunity employer. It fosters a multicultural work environment that values gender equity, teamwork, and respect for diversity. Consideration for employment is given to qualified applicants regardless of race, color, age, gender, religion, disability status, national and ethnic origin, or social status.

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