Join the lab!

Interested in conducting applied ecological research on fungal plant pathogens? In addressing large scale issues related to water conservation and land use management? In learning about plant pathology extension in agriculture? Then you’ve come to the right place!

Postdoctoral scholar position available for Fall 2021

I am currently recruiting for a post doctoral researcher to join the program in Fall 2021.

This position will be located in Davis, CA. The scholar will be jointly by Dr. Cassandra Swett (UC Davis), Dr. Frank Martin (USDA-ARS, Salinas), and Dr. David Geiser (Pennsylvania State University). This fully funded postdoctoral scholar position includes an annual stipend, health insurance, fully funded research and travel expenses and visa assistance. UC Davis has a vibrant postdoctoral research community which includes an active Plant Pathology Postdoc group as well as a University Postdoctoral Scholar Association.

The duration of the contract is 1 year, with high likelihood of extension to multiple years depending on productivity. This position have opportunities in cutting edge research technologies, attendance at conferences and collaborations with extension, diagnosticians (including NPDN), industry researchers and public research groups. This position includes training in disease diagnosis and participation in the Vegetable and Field Crop Pathology diagnostic lab. International applicants are welcome. This is an excellent position for researchers looking to go into diverse job markets.

The postdoctoral scholar is expected to focus on two research directions:

  • Molecular and biological-based population biology and phylogenetic analyses of the transkingdom fungal pathogen Fusarium falciforme in vegetable and field crops (including tomato, melon, hemp, bean, pepper and garlic), perennial crops, animals (eg. turtle egg), and humans (eg. keratitis) populations. Goal: determine whether this is a single broad host range trans-kingdom pathogen or a genetically diverse group, comprised of host-specific strains (formae speciales) and/or multiple species.
  • Genome-based development and validation of diagnostic tools (eg. PCR, RPA) and soil testing tools (eg. QPCR) for Fusarium falciforme, Fusarium wilt and Fusarium crown and root rot in tomato. This would involve characterization of other pathogenic and non-pathogenic F. solani-type strains found in diseased tomato plants.

The postdoctoral scholar will also be encouraged to develop a third research direction. Areas could include:

  • Analysis of virulence mechanisms of F. falciforme, particularly understanding the role of plant toxins in vine decline development, using bioassays, spectrophotometry, and genomic analysis; application to development of resistance screening protocols.
  • Infection biology of F. falciforme—understanding the role of wounding in infection processes.
  • Understanding factors driving the transformation of Fusarium falciforme from a minor foot rot pathogen to a severe driver of vine decline in tomato and cucurbits in California. Areas to examine include changes in planting practice, irrigation method, insect activity and management, cultivar shifts, and/or shifts in pathogen traits (eg. heat tolerance).

Previous experience with vegetable or field crops, Fusarium, phylogenetics, or with disease diagnosis is not necessary. Some modern molecular biology experience is required. Should have some experience working with diseases in plants in the greenhouse or field.  This position will not involve working with living cultures of human or animal pathogens.

To apply or inquire, email Cassandra Swett, and include 1) letter of interest, 2) CV, and 3) list of interests and hobbies.

More information on the Swett lab can be found at:

Application deadline: May 15, 2021

Start date: Flexible, between August 2021 and January 2022.

Prospective Graduate Students

I am always open to graduation student applicants at the MS and PhD level. As a common theme in all graduate projects in my lab, we study fungal pathogen ecology in order to develop integrated management methods which reduce disease losses.

Research areas include:

-Effects of water scarcity on soil-borne fungal pathogens at organismal and community scales

-Diversity and management of mycoparasitic and predatory communities in fungal survival structures (sclerotia)

-Host range ecology of soil borne fungal pathogens and applications to crop rotation and weed management

-Infection biology of soil borne fungal pathogens, and applications to resistance screening and field management.

I encourage prospective students to contact me 3-6 months prior to the January application deadline to discuss project interests. Please include some details on your background and specific research areas you might be interested in.


I highly advise you to also contact members of my lab, to calibrate whether my mentoring style will be a fit.

I am open to assist prospective students in preparing applications for fellowship or scholarship programs (eg., NSF GRFP), if you are interested in seeking your own funding.

Click here for details on how to apply to the Plant Pathology graduate program at UC Davis.

Undergraduates in the lab

We offer both paid research assistant and paid research internship project opportunities in the lab.

It is typical for undergraduates to start in our lab in technical capacity for one or more quarters (working either for credit or paid) in order to learn the ropes, and then transition to an internship project in a subsequent quarter.

We recruit for students year round, and always have a large recruitment the spring (Feb-March), for summer help.

Please email me if you are interested in working in the lab:

Diagnostics internships

If you are currently an undergraduate or graduate student at UC Davis and interested in disease diagnostics,  I offer diagnostics internships to train students in the process of differential diagnosis for plant diseases. Internships are available in spring, summer and fall quarter. Contact me for more information; in your email, indicate that you are interested in a diagnostics internship: