Posted: March 21, 2019

With support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture - Foreign Agricultural Service, the Cacao and Chocolate Research Network (CCRN) at The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) is pleased to announce the 2020 Visiting Scientist Program. The program will support visiting scientists to work with Penn State faculty and international collaborators to advance research that is critical to the development of the fine flavor cacao/chocolate industry in Latin America and the Caribbean. These visiting scientists will spend six months at Penn State. Currently, the program is only accepting applications for economics research of the fine flavor cacao market. Exchanges will take place within the January-December 2020 timeframe, with exact dates to be determined jointly by the visiting scientist and his/her Penn State faculty mentor.

Description of Topic Area

There has been increased interest from governments and donors in supporting the growth of fine flavor cocoa production in Latin America. However, market demand and long-term growth prospects for this market segment are little understood. Most studies that forecast the supply and demand for cocoa are done at a general level without designation of different categories or sub-categories of cocoa. Sometimes growth in the dark chocolate or gourmet markets (based on retail sales figures) is used as a proxy for indicating growth in demand for fine flavor cocoa, but dark and/or gourmet chocolate do not necessarily require use of fine flavor cocoa. These studies on dark chocolate and/or gourmet markets are generally conducted with a retail or chocolate manufacturer audience in mind and are generally only looking a year or two ahead. However, for cocoa farmers, governments and donors, cocoa is a long-term investment, and tools to better understand the market demand and projected growth for fine flavor cocoa market segments are important for sound decision making.

The visiting researcher will work with a Penn State advisor in the department of Agricultural Economics, Rural Sociology and Education (AESE), representatives from the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO), Fine Chocolate Industry Association and other international experts to conduct a market assessment on the market demand and projected growth for fine flavor cocoa market segments, based on secondary data and industry interviews.

General Eligibility Requirements

  • Geography:Candidates must be citizens and residents of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • Education:A minimum of a master's degreeis required. Preferably, candidates will have at least two years of work experience following theirdegree.
  • Employment Status: Applicants must be employed by a public, private or academic institution or be enrolled in a PhD level program, and have experience with cacao/chocolate. While applicants from the private sector are welcome, they should be aware that research will be in the public domain. Applicants should have the intention of continuing to work in cacao/chocolate with their current employer for at least two years after the fellowship.
  • English Language Skills: During the fellowship participating will be expected to communicate in English. Applicants must be proficient in reading and writing scientific/technical papers in English and communicating effectively with English-speaking colleagues.
  • Additional Qualifications:
    • Experience in econometric modeling and statistical packages.
    • Ability to work well independently.

Financial Support

The Penn State Fine Flavor Cacao Visiting ScientistProgramwill provide financial support for: visa fees (if applicable); one roundtrip airfare between the visiting scientist's home airport and Penn State or partner institution; emergency medical insurance; a stipend sufficient to support housing, food and incidental expenses. Limited funding will be provided for research expenses related to the project.

Participants are responsible to maintain a valid passport at their own expense. The program will not cover travel and other expenses associated with the visa interviews. The emergency medical insurance will not cover routine health care.

How to Apply

  • Applicants must submit the following:
    • completed application form; Download Form Here
    • CV that includes education, work experience and publications;
    • a letter of recommendation from a current supervisor that confirms the ability to participate in a six-month program; and
    • a letter of recommendation from a collaborator or colleague.
    • The application form and CV must be in English. The letters of recommendation may be in English or Spanish.
    • Submit all materials to by November 30 2019. Please include "Penn State Fine Flavor Cacao Scientific Exchange Program" in the subject line.
    • Short-listed applicants will be contacted by December 15, 2019 to schedule a phone interview.

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