Legume Research Student Assistant

Berkeley Food Institute and Alt.Meat Lab Summer-Fall 2019 Legume Research Student Assistant

Appointment: 5 hours/week for 4 weeks in summer and throughout fall semester 2019

Compensation: $20/hour.

Application Deadline: May 13, 2019, 5pm Pacific Time

Applicant must be a matriculated undergraduate or graduate student at UC Berkeley. To apply, submit the following items by email as a single pdf to Ricardo San Martin at rsanmartin@berkeley.edu with the subject line “Legume Research Student Assistant”:

  1. Cover letter
  2. Résumé
  3. Contact information for 2 professional and/or academic references

About The Alt.Meat Lab:

The Alternative Meats (alt.meat) Lab at UC Berkeley helps entrepreneurs and researchers investigate the next generation of foods such as plant-based meats,  dairy substitutes, and alternative sources of fat and protein. Surprisingly, sustainable food tech is currently addressed by few companies, and there is a lack of fundamental research to allow rapid progress. The industry is still based on more art than science. At the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, we are changing this by building an open and collaborative space, where aspiring entrepreneurs are developing novel solutions for food’s current impact on the environment, health, and animal welfare.

About the Berkeley Food Institute:

The Berkeley Food Institute (BFI) at the University of California, Berkeley strives to transform food systems to expand access to healthy, affordable food and promote sustainable and equitable food production. We empower new leaders with capacities to cultivate diverse, just, resilient, and healthy food systems. We pursue our mission through interdisciplinary programs in education, research, policy, communications, and community engagement.

About the Position:

Beans (legumes or pulses), have been a central part of the human diet for millenia, and their origins are traced to Mesoamerica. They are well-known for their nutritional benefits as a rich source of protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They are also increasingly understood for their tremendous benefit to agricultural systems, restoring nitrogen and organic matter and reducing potential erosion and leaching loss. Finally, they are delicious, affordable, and come in myriad varieties which can be prepared in countless ways. So why are beans still so misunderstood, and underutilized, in the mainstream diet of the United States?

We are seeking a comparative analysis of various bean varieties to determine which one holds the most promise as a plant-based protein in the United States. Student should analyze varieties according to the following metrics, if possible:

  • Ease of growing in North American climates;
  • Ease of post-harvest processing, either now or in the future;
  • Soil health and other agronomic benefits;
  • Nutritional benefits;
  • Ease of storage and preparation, which may involve investigation of the microstructure of beans;
  • Taste and palatability, which may involve market research to understand existing market penetration of various varieties.

Most of this may be accomplished through literature reviews, although each metric may also require consultation with respective experts: agronomists, food processors, soil scientists, nutritionists, food scientists, bean processors and/or manufacturers, chefs, and others.


Literature Review and Report Writing (70%)

  • In collaboration with Alt.Meat Director Ricardo San Martin and other experts, review existing literature on above topics and create cross-disciplinary synthesis.
  • Advise team on new directions and/or previously overlooked avenues to answer central research question.
  • Write and deliver final report combining literature review and interviews.

Interviews (30%)

  • Gather specific questions from stakeholders on this project for future staff to forecast what issues.
  • Set up and conduct fact-finding interviews with agreed-upon list of experts who can direct research of the metrics listed above. Write up notes to enhance final report.

Required Qualifications:

  • Interest and experience in the intersection between food and agriculture research.
  • Outstanding research and communication skills.
  • Ability to work independently and to foresee, identify, and recommend solutions in the position’s areas of responsibility.
  • Strong attention to detail.
  • Comfort with creativity, innovation, and hard work.
  • Courtesy, persistence, punctuality, and good humor.
  • Interest and experience in public service and social equity, as core tenets of the UC Berkeley experience and the Berkeley Food Institute mission.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Prior experience or interest in legumes.

Equal Employment Opportunity:

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or protected veteran status. For more information about your rights as an applicant, see: http://www.eeoc.gov/employers/upload/poster_screen_reader_optimized.pdf

For the complete University of California nondiscrimination and affirmative action policy, see: