Pacific Community



Job Type


Closing Date

31st Jan 2019


See below

— Description —



The Pacific Community (SPC) is the principal scientific and technical organisation in the Pacific region, supporting development since 1947. We are an international development organisation owned and governed by our 26 country and territory members. In pursuit of sustainable development to benefit Pacific people, our organisation works across more than 20 sectors. We are known for our knowledge and innovation in such areas as fisheries science, public health surveillance, geoscience, and conservation of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.


The Land Resources Division (LRD) provides advice, technical assistance, research and training support to Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) on all aspects of agriculture and forestry. This includes plant protection, conservation, plant genetic resources, animal health and production, agroforestry, biosecurity and trade facilitation, and sustainable systems for agriculture, forestry and land management. This work has two objectives: improved food and nutritional security, and resilient communities. The division’s services are provided through seven technical/thematic teams: Animal Health and Production; Plant Health; Biosecurity and Trade Facilitation; Forest and Agriculture Diversification; Crop Production and Extension; Genetic Resources; and Forests and Trees.


The role – Associate Scientist – Germplasm Health is responsible for leading and strengthening the capacity and efficiency of the Germplasm Health Unit within the Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees. This role will develop project proposals, provide scientific coordination, and oversee implementation of a number of projects related to virus research and virus elimination as well as molecular technologies and applications. 


The key responsibilities of the role include:

  • Management of the Germplasm Health Unit (GHU) within the Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT)
  • Manage CePaCT-GHU molecular activities
  • Project Management and coordination
  • CePaCT Operational Activities


For a more detailed account of the key responsibilities, please refer to the job description provided.


Key selection criteria



  • Master’s in Science with a specialisation in a related field such as molecular diagnostics, virology, microbiology or biology 


Knowledge and experience

  • At least 10 years of experience in virus diagnostics of tropical crops such as aroids, banana, sweet potato and yam
  • Expertise in research areas relevant to the conservation of clonal crops in tissue culture
  • Good working knowledge of the biotechnology lab and associated equipment
  • Experience in writing both scientific and project reports, and peer-reviewed papers
  • Ability to provide training and supervision                                                                                                                                                                                      

Essential skills

  • Techniques including polymerase chain reaction (PCR), reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), IC-PCR, RCA, Sanger, next generation sequencing, sequence analysis, symptomatology, grafting, electron microscopy
  • Virus elimination methods, including meristem culture, chemotherapy, thermotherapy and electrotherapy
  • Ability to design and implement experiments
  • Excellent PC based computer skills, preferably with current Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Internet


Language skills

  • Excellent English communication skills (oral and written) with a working knowledge of French being an advantage


Interpersonal skills and cultural awareness

  • Ability to work in a multicultural, inclusive and equitable environment
  • Ability to work as part of a small team with a high level of interpersonal skills


Salary, terms and conditions


Contract Duration – Three years


Remuneration – The Associate Scientist – Germplasm Healthis a Band 10 position in SPC’s 2018 salary scale, with a starting salary range of 2,451‒3,063 SDR (special drawing rights) per month, which currently converts to approximately FJD 7,009–8,761 (USD 3,382–4,227; EUR 3,030–3,788). An offer of appointment for an initial contract will normally be made in the lower half of this range, with due consideration given to experience and qualifications.Progression within the salary scale will be based on annual performance reviews. Remuneration of expatriate SPC staff members is not subject to income tax in Fiji; Fiji nationals employed by SPC in Fiji will be subject to income tax.


Benefits for international employees based in Fiji – SPC provides a housing allowance of FJD 1,170–2,625 per month. Establishment and relocation grant, removal expenses, airfares, home leave, medical and life insurance and education allowances are available for eligible employees and their recognised dependents. Employees are entitled to 25 days of annual leave and 30 days of sick leave per annum, and access to SPC’s Provident Fund (contributing 8% of salary, to which SPC adds a matching contribution).


Languages – SPC’s working languages are English and French.


Equal opportunity – SPC is an equal opportunity employer. Recruitment is based entirely on merit; in cases where two short-listed candidates are judged to be of equal rank by the selection committee, preference will be given to Pacific Island nationals.


Child protection – SPC is committed to child protection, irrespective of whether any specific area of work involves direct contact with children. SPC’s Child Protection Policy is written in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.


Police clearance – Successful candidates will be required to provide a police clearance certificate.


Application procedure


Closing Date – 31 January 2019


Applicants must apply online at http://careers.spc.int/


Hard copies of applications will not be accepted.


For your application to be considered, you must provide us with:


  • an updated resume
  • contact details for three professional referees
  • a cover letter detailing your skills, experience and interest in this position
  • responses to all screening questions


Please ensure your documents are in Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF format.


Applicants should not attach copies of qualifications or letters of reference. These documents may be requested at a later stage.


For international staff in Fiji, only one foreign national per family can be employed with an entity operating in Fiji at any one given time. The Pacific Community does not support dual spouse employment.


Please ensure that you respond to all the screening questions.  If you do not respond to the screening questions, your application will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed at shortlisting stage.


Screening Questions:


  1. Explain the main activities conducted by a germplasm health unit in an international genebank, given the nature of Small Island Development States (SIDS) and the crops kept at the Center for Pacific Crops and Trees
  2. Explain main pathogens that need to be tested for for clonaly propagated crops.
  3. As research scientist you are also required to develop your own research lines. What would be your research priorities ?
  4. If you are given the task to clear a back-log of 1000 accessions of a clonaly propagated crop in 5 years time. What would be your strategy and plan of action to ensure that these accessions are pathogen-tested according to internationally agreed standards and made available for distribution.
  5. What would be the ideal human resource team to run effectively / efficiently the GHU at the Centre for Crops and Trees in the Pacific