ICIPE Postdoctoral Research Fellow - Biological Control of Fall Armyworm

ICIPE Postdoctoral Research Fellow - Biological Control of Fall Armyworm

icipe—International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology—is a world-class research centre with a mission to alleviate poverty by ensuring food security, improving health, protecting the environment and building the capacity of researchers and communities across the developing world through the application of insect sciences.

Employing close to 500 national and international staff, icipe is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya with outposts in Ethiopia and on the shores of Lake Victoria in western Kenya.

icipe has a proud reputation and history of
delivering world-quality science that has made crucial contributions to African food and health policy, delivered development outcomes to rural communities, and has been at the forefront of building Africa’s biological
research capacity.

The Centre’s research activities span the African continent with partnerships linking research organisations, not only across Africa, but also the globe.

In addition, 100–150 graduate students and a number of postdoctoral fellows contribute to icipe’s research portfolio annually.

icipe seeks to recruit a highly motivated Postdoctoral Fellow to join an established interdisciplinary team dedicated to the development of sustainable IPM programmes for the management of cereal stemborers and
other pests, including the invasive fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda), a destructive pest of maize and other crops that recently invaded Africa.

The successful candidate will plan and conduct world-leading research with
a focus on developing an IPM approach for S. frugiperda utilising the natural defence mechanisms of the crop and companion plants together with enhancing biocontrol with natural enemies of the pest.

Under the direct supervision of the Project Leader, the successful candidate will employ a balanced basic and applied research programme to deliver the goals of the project.

The position will be offered for a period of 24 months and will be based at icipe Thomas Odhiambo Campus, Mbita, on the shores of Lake Victoria in western Kenya and also involves travel to project action sites in the region and collaborators at Keele University in the UK.

A competitive and generous compensation package that includes comprehensive health and life insurance cover (all payable in US Dollars) will be offered to the right candidate.

Furthermore, the incumbent will receive paid annual vacation, return airfare for themselves and their dependents to their nominated home base each year, and duty-free privileges.

If the successful candidate is appointed from outside Kenya, he or she will be offered
support to relocate and settle in Mbita.

Qualified candidates from Africa (and especially females) are invited to
apply. Only shortlisted candidates will be acknowledged.

Living in Mbita, Kenya

icipe Thomas Odhiambo Campus (ITOC) is situated on the shores of Lake Victoria, with excellent housing facilities for staff and students. The Campus sits on 24.5 hectares of land, 40% of which consists of experimental
fields and buildings with landscaped gardens.

ITOC’s research structures include state-of-the-art laboratories and offices, as well as insect and animal rearing facilities. The Campus also hosts St. Jude’s Clinic, a kindergarten, primary school, and the Mbita Guest House.


  • The candidate will work with a research group (team) in planning and conducting basic and applied research targeted at developing an integrated management approach (IPM) based on companion cropping for the destructive S. frugiperda, a serious pest of maize and other crops that has recently invaded Africa from Tropical America.
  • The successful candidate will engage with the team (as well as relevant stakeholders) in the technical and operational design and implementation of the
    project, and periodic reporting to the Project Leader.

  • Vacancy Announcement
  • (Ref. No. Irs/275/092018)
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow -
  • Biological Control of Fall Armyworm

    Specific duties

    The successful candidate is expected to:

  • Assess S. frugiperda direct and indirect resistance in diverse cereal germplasm to establish any potential role of host plant resistance as a component of IPM approach for the pest;
  • Evaluate the germplasm for the existence of early herbivory alert in response to insect eggs and volatile signalling to attract natural enemies of the pest;
  • Identify the host range of S. frugiperda and identify potential companion plants for use as repellent and trap plants for managing the pest;
  • Elucidate any above- and below-ground signalling between companion and cereal plants (including the role of soil microbiome), and establish the potential role in S. frugiperda management;
  • Elucidate chemical ecology of plant–S. frugiperda–natural enemy interactions for exploitation in managing the pest;
  • Conduct field trials to identify natural enemies of S. frugiperda, and to validate the companion cropping based management approach;
  • Publish research outcomes in peer-reviewed journals, as well as communicate research results to stakeholders through presentations, media and other outreach materials.


  • PhD in entomology and crop protection from a recognised university, with experience in chemical ecology of plant–pest–natural enemy interactions at both basic and applied levels.
  • Excellent track record of research and peer-reviewed publication.
  • Excellent oral and written English communication skills.
  • Candidate should be below 40 years of age.

    Core Competencies

  • Ability to design and run biological and behavioural assays in laboratory and screen house settings and conduct field experiments involving lepidopteran pests and their natural enemies.
  • Ability to conduct thorough evaluation of different plants in randomised replicated field trials at the icipe research station and to also evaluate their performance in farmers’ fields.
  • Knowledge and experience of biological control with natural enemies of pests.
  • Ability to design and conduct below- and above-ground plant signalling studies.
  • Demonstrated experience in chemical ecology procedures, including collection and analysis of plant volatile organic compounds.
  • Proficiency in use of statistical tools and other related statistical software.
  • Knowledge of and ability to design and undertake studies involving soil microbiome in influencing plant responses to pests.

    Other desirable attributes

  • Ability to supervise and mentor technical staff and students and demonstrate leadership skills.
  • Ability to engage with farmers as well as with scientists.
  • An effective, innovative, team player with ability to work in multidisciplinary, multi-institutional and multicultural environment.
  • Eagerness to learn new techniques and work with minimal supervision.


  • This position reports to the Project Leader or her/his designee at icipe.
  • The selected candidate should be available to start as soon as possible.

    How to Apply

  • Applications will be accepted up to 26th October 2018.

    Interested applicants should submit:

  • A confidential cover letter;
  • Detailed CV with names and addresses of 3 referees (including e-mail addresses, fax numbers);
  • A statement illustrating suitability against the listed qualifications/competencies/abilities and skills

  • For more information and job application details, see; ICIPE Postdoctoral Research Fellow - Biological Control of Fall Armyworm

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