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Research Scientist in the Plant Breeding Industry

Research Scientist – Plant Breeding


What do plant breeders do?

There are a variety of types of positions in the plant breeding industry from work in a greenhouse, plant transformation lab, genotyping lab, or field to many types of data analysis. More and more processes are automated and large amounts of data are generated.  Each year one or more of our genetics graduates obtain positions in local or regional plant breeding companies such as Corteva Agriscience (formerly Pioneer), Bayer (formerly Monsanto), or Syngenta.  Others may choose to go into plant breeding industries following graduate school. Your ability to be promoted to higher positions will depend on the company policies, your experience and education.

How do I best prepare for a job in the plant breeding industry?

In addition to the coursework in the Genetics major, you will be well-served to take a few business classes, obtain a minor in Agronomy, and additional coursework in Bioinformatics and Plant Pathology. Plan on undergraduate research with one of the many plant scientists on faculty beginning as soon as possible.  After your sophomore and junior years, consider obtaining an internship in a plant breeding company over the summer.   Employers routinely rate a previous internship with their company as the best qualification for being offered a permanent position.  Some companies also offer internships to new graduates as a pathway to permanent jobs.  Other companies use employment agencies such as Aerotek to fill temporary positions.  These again often lead to full time employment with a company.


Kyle Dick

Education: BS, Genetics, ISU, 2013

Current Position:  Research Scientist at Bayer Crop Science, St. Louis, MO

Kyle Dick

Iowa State’s genetics program provides a broad range of experiences and perspectives.  Which, helped me gain insight into the specific fields of genetics I wanted to explore.  The in-depth coursework in quantitative genetics, agricultural labs, and bioinformatics has ultimately led me into a rewarding career, designing software in the agri-biotech industry.


Jeremy Schuster

Education:  BS, Genetics, minor Agronomy, ISU, 2018

Current Position:  Research Associate at Corteva Agriscience, Algona, Iowa

Jeremy Schuster

Genetics is a hard and challenging field of study, there are always more questions than answers; however, it is just as rewarding and exciting. So take it one day at time and four years will go by in no time. Don't worry about the small things.  Technology is ever advancing and new applications of it are constantly becoming available. Learn how to make the most that technology. Take some bioinformatics to learn how code and work with large data sets to make predictions. It'll pay off in the long run. Lastly, remember to have fun and make friends. College is an exciting time and you'll no doubt learn a lot. Make sure you can look back and smile.