Research Agronomist

Synthetic Genomics, Inc.
Calipatria, California
Nov 03, 2020
Required Education
Bachelors Degree
Position Type
Full time

Some farms grow food. Ours grows the future.

In partnership with ExxonMobil, Synthetic Genomics, Inc. is growing algae biofuels to one day power planes, propel ships and fuel trucks—ultimately offering the potential to cut emissions in half. At our farm in California’s Imperial Valley, we are cultivating acres of energy-rich algae, working day and night toward the technical ability to produce 10,000 barrels a day of low-emission algae biofuel by 2025. We are looking for a Research Agronomist to be the pivot point at our state-of-the-art algal pilot facility to translate scientific breakthroughs from the labs into scalable algal farming reality. Come join our fast growing, dynamic and collaborative team at Synthetic Genomics’ California Advanced Algal Facility (CAAF) in Calipatria, California.

Under the direction of the Director, Phototrophic Production, the Research Agronomist will be responsible for the everyday research and development activities of the pilot facility including the coordination and execution of the programs research activities, as well as the production functions of the site. Collaboration and partnership with leadership onsite and at the La Jolla facility is a must for this role to be successful. This position will have a shared leadership responsibility with the Facilities and Operations Manager to ensure the research and activities on site are on schedule and are meeting all research goals and deliverables.

This position will be focused on developing and promoting better farming practices through the collaborative investigation of multi-scale algae cultivation systems. The position will require a self-motivated, detail orientated individual with excellent listening, communication and problem-solving skills. This position is instrumental in translating cutting edge science from the lab to the field, and closing the loop to the lab bench with the experiences gained at CAAF.

Position Purpose

  • The purpose of the Research Agronomist is to provide complimentary technical expertise and experience to the existing CAAF Team in order to better facilitate the transition of science and technology from the lab to the field.


  • The Research Agronomist will work with their supervisor and team of other scientists contributing significant intellectual input into the design of experiments, deploying advanced monitoring and data collection systems to the field. 
  • Manage and maintain testing procedures to ensure the completion of designed test plans and production requirements with an expectation of generating reports and presenting findings to management, clients, or other interested parties.
  • Actively participate in the development of new production concepts, products, and cultivation solutions by collaborating the company’s various research teams while maintaining alignment with strategic initiatives and provide a clear sense of direction and focus.
  • Management of site’s large-scale water treatment/recycle system including preventative maintenance and system qualification.
  • Actively monitor and record cultivation system nutrient balance.
  • Monitoring and implementation of specific Integrated Pest Management Plans on active cultivation units at scale.
  • Maintain current sensor network as well enable the development and deployment of new and improved sensor networks.
  • Manage/Monitor the consolidation of the site’s multiple data streams to ensure proper delivery as well as the use of “in-hand” data to make informed cultivation decisions.
  • Contribute to a cross functional team with the design/test/deploy of new systems for culture monitoring and system analysis.
  • Consistently demonstrate initiative in implementing projects and/or necessary work.
  • Foster a spirit of teamwork and unity among research and process development teams that allows for collaboration and the appreciation of diversity, to work effectively together to enable each employee and the department to succeed.
  • Ensure and promote a culture of safety in the laboratories and scale-up facilities.


  • Requires a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture, Biology or Engineering with at least 5 years of relevant industry experience including OR a Master’s degree with 3 years of relevant industry experience. Equivalent education and experience may be considered, experience in large scale algae cultivation or biomass production strongly preferred.
  • Experience managing large scale cultivation systems a must. Experience can be from terrestrial test crops or from large scale algae production.
  • Experience with large scale sensor networks and various types of sensors and monitoring equipment desirable.
  • Must possess excellent communication and interpersonal skills to facilitate interactions with a highly interdisciplinary team.
  • Experience with the creation and maintenance of complex multivariable modeling of scaled production systems.
  • Must possess a meticulous attention to detail while being able to develop, learn and adopt new methods of understanding.
  • Must be able to quickly problem solve and communicate rapid schedule changes in a safe and effective manner.
  • Bilingual in Spanish and English highly preferred.