Postharvest Biology and Physiology Specialist

Postharvest Biology and Physiology CE Specialist
Position Description: Postharvest CE specialist will focus on harvested horticultural products. As much as
35% of the fruits and vegetables produced in the United States are never consumed due to deterioration after
harvest, greatly reducing the sustainability of our agricultural systems. The position will model produce
response to environmental conditions and subsequent shelf life and develop improved handling strategies for
produce. These strategies are critical to the continued economic viability of California’s produce industry.
The Specialist is expected to play an active role in the Postharvest Technology Center, based on an ANR
Workgroup, which supports Farm Advisors and their clientele throughout the State on issues related to
postharvest handling and processing. The individual will collaborate with Advisors and AES faculty in
his/her research and outreach program. A candidate for this position is expected to have a PhD in
Horticulture, Food Science, Biology, or related fields, with research experience in Postharvest Biology and
Justification: The UC Postharvest Technology Center is recognized around the world for its expertise in
the field of postharvest. Demand for research and education in postharvest physiology is very high and
growing. Our courses are filled each year, the website visits are extensive, and requests for research and
specialized programs are beyond current personnel capability to fill. To sustain our current programs, we
need additional CE Specialists to contribute their expertise and time. Postharvest CE Specialists work very
closely with commodity boards to address postharvest issues related to specific commodities.
1. Enhancing human health and reducing obesity: Consumption of vegetables and fruit are clearly
linked to human health and is an important factor in reducing obesity and diabetes. Inferior flavor
quality and low convenience of fruits and vegetables can reduce consumption. Applied research
and extension in postharvest handling of fruits and vegetables will enhance the quality and
availability of produce for consumers, thereby enhancing consumption.
2. Sustainable practices: As much as 30% of the fruits and vegetables produced in California are never
consumed because of waste after harvest. These losses can be greatly reduced by improved
postharvest handling practices, thereby preventing the waste of inputs in water, fertilizer, seed, and
labor for producing these crops and reducing chemical inputs into the environment. A very small
percentage (<5%) of the resources available for research and extension focus on product handling
after harvest; yet significant benefits to sustainability and enhanced consumption of healthy food
can be achieved with this focus.
Extension: The CE specialist will become a key member of the Postharvest Technology Center, contributing
to annual extension programs offered by the center, including Postharvest Biology and Technology of
Horticultural Crops, Fresh Cut Workshop, and the Ripening and Ethylene Management Workshop. Advisors
are invited to attend these training activities for free. Clientele will include Advisors, Grower/Shippers,
Retailers, Foodservice Companies, and Consumers.
Research: The Specialist will address the applied research needs of the produce industry in
California, with emphasis on vegetable products. Research activities will include improved handling
strategies to reduce losses and enhance product quality, modeling product response to postharvest
conditions, developing value-added products, and evaluation of new germplasm for postharvest
performance, sensory quality and consumer acceptance.
ANR continuum: There is a core group of AES faculty and CE Specialists at UC Davis within the
Departments of Plant Sciences, Food Science & Technology, Biological and Agricultural Engineering and
Agricultural and Resource Economics as well as two colleagues at UC Riverside whose research and
outreach activities are related to postharvest biology and technology. Due to 3 recent retirements over the
past 3 years, the Center has lost key expertise in postharvest biology and physiology that would be covered
by the Postharvest Biology and Physiology Specialist and all expertise in engineering that would be
covered by the Postharvest Systems Engineering Specialist (requested by Biological and Agricultural
Engineering Dept.). There are no county advisors who are assigned primarily to work on postharvest issues;
however many Advisors conduct applied research related to postharvest in consultation or collaboration
with CE Specialists. All Advisors working with fruits, vegetables and ornamentals have clientele who have
needs in postharvest handling, and depend on the expertise of the CE Specialists and AES faculty at UC
Davis and UCR. A core group of CE Specialists with a range of expertise within the postharvest field is
needed to maintain the viability of the internationally recognized Postharvest Technology Center and the
availability of postharvest knowledge.
Support: The Department of Plant Sciences will provide travel funds, office and laboratory space, full
access and use of the Wickson Hall and Mann Laboratory postharvest facilities, and complete human
resource and business office. Internet, phone, desktop support, website, fileserver, cyber security, and email
will be provided.
Other support: The Postharvest Technology Center will provide logistical and administrative support, short
course offerings, publication sales, and a web site with millions of hits per year. Research funding will come
from produce packing and marketing companies, government agencies, and commodity boards. The produce
industry has been very supportive of research in postharvest biology and technology. In addition, USDA
NIFA Specialty Crops Research Initiative is an excellent source of support. Service companies related to
postharvest handling are often interested to partner on research or support research projects. The Postharvest
Workgroup supports this position as a high priority.
Location: The Specialist will be located at UC Davis and will become an integral member of the
Postharvest Technology Center, but will collaborate with Advisers throughout the state and with AES faculty.