PhD Graduate Research Assistantship in Fruit Breeding and Genetics at the University of Arkansas

PhD Graduate Research Assistantship in Fruit Breeding and Genetics at the University of Arkansas


A PhD graduate research assistantship is available in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, AR beginning in May 2019. The PhD student will work on a USDA-NIFA funded project to develop molecular breeding strategies to improve fruit firmness and postharvest quality in tetraploid blackberry. The US fresh-market blackberry industry has experienced rapid growth and change during the past 15 years driven by increased consumer demand, new cultivars, advanced production methods, and year-round product availability. Despite recent growth, the blackberry industry continues to be plagued by short shelf life and loss of fruit quality during shipping. The University of Arkansas is home to the largest public-sector fresh-market blackberry breeding program in the US. New ‘crispy’-textured blackberries developed at UA have the potential to increase the profitability of the US blackberry industry because of their superior postharvest performance and resistance to red drupelet reversion. However, the underlying biology of crispy texture is not understood and the trait has been difficult to recover in crosses between crispy and non-crispy selections in the UA breeding program. One facet of the research program for the graduate student will be to conduct a GWAS study to identify markers for fruit texture, resistance to red drupelet reversion, and other traits of interest in the UA blackberry breeding program. Additional research topics may also be pursued, depending on the interests and abilities of the student. The PhD student will also be expected participate in cultivar development activities in blackberry, peach, and muscadine grape.


The research project will require extensive travel from Fayetteville to the UA Fruit Research Station in Clarksville, AR (~ 90 miles away). The graduate research assistant will establish field/greenhouse/lab studies, collect data, analyze research results, prepare reports, write journal articles, present research results, and prepare a thesis/dissertation. This half-time assistantship will provide a stipend ($18,000 per year) and a full tuition waiver. Opportunities for additional income in the form of scholarships are also available.


Desired qualifications:

An MSc in horticulture, crop science, genetics, or a related field and experience in applied plant breeding, statistics, and genetics are preferred. Other desirable qualities include a strong work ethic, ability to work independently, advanced English language proficiency (verbal and written), and enthusiasm for applied plant breeding and field work. The candidate must possess (or be qualified to possess) a valid US driver’s license. Candidates must also meet the admission requirements of UA's Graduate School and the Department of Horticulture. Interested candidates that meet these qualifications are encouraged to inquire about the position by contacting:


Dr. Margaret Worthington:, 984.227.9787

About the University of Arkansas:

Founded in 1871 as a land grant institution, the University of Arkansas is classified by the Carnegie Foundation among the top two percent of universities in the nation with the highest level of research activity. Ten colleges and schools serve more than 26,700 students with more than 200 academic programs. University of Arkansas students earn nationally competitive awards at an impressive rate and represent 50 states and more than 120 countries.

Located in the stunning Ozark Mountains of Northwest Arkansas, Fayetteville is home to the University of Arkansas campus, known for its spectacular views and ample green spaces. Fayetteville is considered one of the country’s finest college towns, and the surrounding northwest Arkansas region is regularly ranked one of the best places to live in the U.S. Some of the nation’s best outdoor amenities and most spectacular hiking trails are within a short drive of campus.