Position Announcement: Graduate Research Assistantship 

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The University of Tennessee (UT) is establishing an “Operational Hub” to support the next phase of programming under the U.S. Government’s Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative, Feed the Future. Housed in the UT Smith Center for International Sustainable Agriculture (Smith Center), the Hub will conduct applied research and analysis in support of programs to improve food security and nutrition outcomes in the 20 Feed the Future countries. The Hub will respond to requests for technical support by developing and implementing scopes of work for specific studies, assessments, and strategic plans. Scopes of work will be carried out by research teams comprised of technical and geographic experts. Work will include desk studies that build on existing literature and field research that collects new data in target countries and regions. 


The Smith Center is recruiting a Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) to support this grant-funded project. This graduate student position will be part of a team of four core members in the Operational Hub. S/he will support the Hub to: 1) recruit external experts, 2) develop requests into scopes of work, 3) deploy research teams to conduct applied research, and 4) compile research deliverables for submission to the U.S. Government. The GRA will complete a Master’s degree in Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications (ALEC)

Specific responsibilities will include: 

  • Maintain a shared drive to facilitate recruitment, collaboration, and data management. 
  • Support the Recruitment Director to issue recruitment calls for experts. 
  • Collect information from a roster of experts to plan research assignments and travel. 
  • Support research teams to gather relevant literature and data for their scopes of work. 
  • Support communication and outreach efforts to raise the profile of the Hub’s services and publications. 

This GRA position will be based in Knoxville, TN, with potential international travel. Benefits include stipend, tuition waiver, and health insurance. We are seeking a highly-motivated candidate with an interest and experience in international agricultural development. The candidate may conduct their thesis research on an area of the Operational Hub’s work, or may elect to focus on a separate topic. 

Required qualifications: 

  • Bachelor’s degree (awarded by December 2022) in agriculture, natural resources, or related field 
  • Experience traveling abroad 
  • Ability to communicate across disciplines and cultures 
  • Excellent organizational and writing skills 

Preferred qualifications: 

  • Prior experience with international development or international research projects 
  • Coursework in international agriculture / global development 
  • Working knowledge of USAID and the Feed the Future initiative 
  • Experience living and/or working abroad, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa 
  • Research methods training, particularly in data analysis and management 
  • Proficiency in a foreign language 


Start Date: As soon as possible; ideally no later than January 2023 

To apply, please submit a resume, cover letter, and references to Hans Goertz, hgoertz@utk.edu. The search committee will start to review applications on October 24, 2022. This position will remain open until filled.