Research Lead, OpenAg

by Kelley Shepard

Feb. 6, 2019

Job Description

 At the MIT Media Lab Open Agriculture (OpenAg) Initiative we are on a mission to create
healthier, more engaging, and more inventive future food systems. We believe the precursor
to a healthier and more sustainable food system will be the creation of an open-source
ecosystem of food technologies that enable and promote transparency, networked
experimentation, education, and hyper-local production. The OpenAg Initiative brings together
partners from industry, government, and academia to develop an open source "food tech"​
research collective for the creation of the global agricultural hardware, software, and data
commons. Together we will build collaborative tools and open technology platforms for the
exploration of future food systems.

Under the direction of the OpenAg Director and Principal Investigator, the Research Lead will
help coordinate and maintain OpenAg’s overall research design, execution and publishing
strategy, establish and manage OpenAg’s first wet lab space. In addition, the successful
candidate will expand OpenAg’s experimentation and research into microscopy, genomics
and molecular biology to further OpenAg’s mission and vision.


  • Assist in the development of OpenAg’s next generation research processes and applications; lead a minimum of two OpenAg research projects a year, publishing findings internally and externally, including peer-reviewed journals;
  • Prepare proposals, abstracts, and grant applications; attend conferences;
  • Manage OpenAg’s wet lab, providing team support for ensuring space and equipment are adequate for current and future research;
  • Supervise MIT undergraduate and graduate students; liaise with visiting students, postdocs and MIT & MIT Media Lab faculty to maximize available resources across MIT;
  • Establish connections within MIT and with other academic institutions to foster research collaborations;
  • Liaise with industry leaders and interact with MIT Media Lab research sponsors;
  • Coordinate molecular biology, epigenetics, and/or expansion microscopy experimentation;
  • Coordinate with OpenAg back end, front end, mechanical, biological and architectural teams;
  • Contribute to hardware, software, and data development, testing, and analysis and integration of biological data into environmental sensing and control systems;
  • Take part in teaching, media outreach, knowledge transfer, and educational activities as needed and in collaboration with the OpenAg supervisors and team;
  • Other duties as assigned.

This is a one year appointment with possibility of extension based upon funding availability and project needs.



  • PhD in biological sciences or a related field;
  • At least two years’ experience leading teams conducting primary research in biological sciences;
  • Experience in technology development;
  • Postdoctoral experience leading experiments in molecular biology, epigenetics and/or plant biology;
  • Effective communication skills;
  • Ability to work independently with minimal oversight;
  • Strategic thinking;
  • Ability to do outstanding work alongside a diverse group of colleagues in a fast-paced, team-oriented, and often challenging work environment;
  • Some evening and weekend hours required during deployment of pilot programs.


  • Minimum of five years of postdoctoral experience conducting theoretical and applied research.

To apply, go to and search for job ID #17086.

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