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Director, Research

Role: Full-time

About Plenty

Plenty is on a mission to make fresh, pesticide-free fruits and vegetables more accessible to everyone.  Our cutting-edge indoor, vertical farms produce extraordinary yields using a fraction of the land and water outdoor farms need.  Nutrient-rich, mouth-watering and locally grown, our crops help people, communities and our planet to be healthier and more resilient.

The people and teams who make up Plenty are at the core of how we do this.  We are a collaborative and innovative bunch.  We are passionate about our contributions to Plenty, the communities around us and our planet, but never take ourselves too seriously.  We’re down to Earth, we grow together, and we always find a way.  Most importantly, we’re here to improve the lives of plants, people and our planet.  

About the Role

The Plant Science team is in the rapid-growth phase. Plant Science is the value engine of the business and success in this area is critical to the advancement of Plenty’s mission to bring delicious, nutritious, low-cost produce to people around the world. As Director of Research, Laramie, you will work closely with the Chief Scientific Officer to prioritize, supervise, and strategically guide research to drive business outcomes. 

What You'll Do

  • Will direct the Plant Science Optimization teams to prioritize research goals with the right mix of short-term, mid-term, and long-term outcomes.
  • Will be senior Science Lead onsite in Laramie, ensuring that operations are reflective of company values and driving critical business outcomes. May be asked to supervise researchers in other locations as well.
  • Will engage as the official handoff point for PS research outcomes with New Product Introduction, (NPI). Will lead and engage with NPI teams on application.
  • Strategically orient PS optimization work to the overall goals of the company
  • Will manage process scientists focused on narrowly scoped areas of research across multiple crops. These scientists will function as individual contributors to a broad swath of research across multiple crop programs.
  • Be the science expert responsible for ensuring that the experiments are well designed and aligned with the needs of the business.
  • Must be flexible, and comfortable operating in chaos, focusing on the right outcome, and asking scientists to stretch themselves to find the right mix of expediency, quality, creativity and rigor in their research, which may vary from experiment to experiment.
  • Must challenge and drive correct experimental and statistical methods and designs.
  • Ensure that the Plant Science team is asking the right questions and lead them in the process of becoming more creative and strategic in their approaches.
  • Must be able to interpret experimental results and communicate findings in an effective manner to relevant stakeholders across various business units.
  • Engage directly with engineering teams to ensure that they are implementing best in class solutions and applying PS findings to design.
  • Support and assign support for Plenty production operations to assist with troubleshooting, and production issues as needed.
  • Coordinate with Engineering stakeholders and Project Management to identify areas of risk as it relates to equipment components, hardware, or production methods, and identify and implement mitigation strategies that can be tested through experimentation.
  • Identify areas of improvement within Plant Science (process or otherwise) and drive change that promotes efficiency, safety, and plant health.

Tactical Thinking

This position requires consistent daily communication with Research Scientists and support positions within Plant Science to ensure that experiments are on track, timelines are being met, and we are adequately prioritizing efforts to result in impactful outcomes. Data review, interpretation and clearly communicating results recommendations to company stakeholders are critical duty requirements, this position is a voice for Scientists, who champions the effort and work of the department. This position requires the ability to critically evaluate Plenty’s experimentation and deployment phases and challenge aspects which are found to lack the depth of attention that should be applied, then identify methods to mitigate inherent risk. This position is critical to fostering an understanding across business units of the relevance and impact that the work being done by Plant Science has on current operations, and the future growth and development of the company.    

Strategic Thinking

This Director role must balance critical short-term outcomes and long-term research objectives in a manner that allows Plenty to move quickly and sustain continuous crop improvement over time. The Research Director is integral to the development of sequential research schedules and implementation of product research programs which support successful production and market launch activities. Based on the input from various business units, the Research Director must understand what is vital to business outcome, on what timescale, and ensure that resource utilization (personnel, research space) is distributed across research programs to drive positive outcomes.

Professional Growth and Development

Growth in the role of a Sr Research Director is based on the individual’s willingness and ability to collaborate across diverse business units, continuously learn and drive efficiency, and inspire the growth of others.

What We're Looking For

  • 10+ years of project and people management experience
  • MS or PhD in Plant Science discipline
  • 10+ years of experience in agriculture or horticulture (may be combined education/industry)
  • Capable of running different types of research approaches depending on company need, capable of fast, low-quality work when needed, and higher-quality work when needed, with the wisdom to know when each is required
  • Experience managing or running complicated, cross disciplinary projects
  • Strong systematic thinking and attention to detail
  • Strong strategic thinking skills
  • Demonstration of active and high-quality communication around complicated things
  • Comfort with fast-paced change and ability to adapt to new goals
  • Obsession with meaningful, measurable outcomes
  • Experience in R&D and/or new product development a plus
  • Comfort with uncertainty and making decisions with incomplete information
  • Ability to dig into data, synthesize results, and glean insights
  • Continued desire to learn

Type of role


What we can offer 

  • Compensation; we’ll pay you a competitive salary, give you a stake in the company via equity and contribute toward your 401K 
  • Health & well-being; we’ll invest in your physical and mental well-being with comprehensive medical, dental, & vision benefits, in-office gyms, and an Employee Assistance Program to help with mental health, financial & legal matters 
  • Food; in-office lunches, snacks and access to our leafy greens & new produce in development -- are you up for a side gig as a taste tester?
  • Grow together; learning & development opportunities including unlimited access to our Upstart University platform, LinkedIn Learning, lunch & learns, training certifications, and more
  • Equipment; we’ll provide you with the equipment you need to be successful, including $75/month toward your phone bill and $250 every 2 years to upgrade your phone
  • Paid time off; we know you’ll do your best if you’re taking time to recharge, so we don’t cap the amount of days you can take off per year in addition to the paid holidays we observe
  • Parental leave; 12 weeks off for all new parents - fully paid so you can focus your energy on your newest addition 

Food & safety requirements

  • Comply with all Plant, State and Federal OSHA, EPA, FDA, HACCP, and SQF regulations
  • All employees must show proof of COVID vaccination before starting work, other than in limited circumstances where the law requires an exception
  • Participate and lead in the annual Management review of the Food Safety and quality system
  • Ensure appropriate allocation of resources for food safety and quality and responsible for Food Safety at Plenty
  • All employees must be 18 years or older to apply