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USDA-ARS Research Fellowship in Microbiology and Pathobiology

ARS Office/Lab and LocationTwo research opportunities are currently available with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agriculture Research Service (ARS), National Animal Disease Center (NADC) located in Ames, Iowa.

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific in-house research agency with a mission to find solutions to agricultural problems that affect Americans every day from field to table. ARS will deliver cutting-edge, scientific tools and innovative solutions for American farmers, producers, industry, and communities to support the nourishment and well-being of all people; sustain our nation’s agroecosystems and natural resources; and ensure the economic competitiveness and excellence of our agriculture. The vision of the agency is to provide global leadership in agricultural discoveries through scientific excellence.

Research Project: The selected candidates will conduct research on the pathobiology of SARS-CoV-2 in livestock species. Pathobiology is an integrative discipline incorporating microbiology, immunology, molecular biology, cell biology, genetics, and anatomic pathology. The participants may assist with planning, conducting, collecting, and analyzing research data. Participation may include performing molecular assays to define host-pathogen interactions and the development or refinement of protocols for microscopic assessment of tissues with SARS-CoV-2 associated lesions. 

Previous SARS-CoV-2 research from ARS scientists located at the NADC is summarized in this video.

Learning Objectives: As a result of the training, the participant will improve their skills in experimental design, experimental study preparation, pipetting, molecular assay preparation, nucleic acid extraction, PCR, data analysis, and scientific writing.

MentorThe mentors for this opportunity are Eric Cassmann (, Alexa Buckley (, and Mitch Palmer ( If you have questions about the nature of the research please contact a mentor.

Anticipated Appointment Start Date: Fall 2022 or Winter 2023.  Start date is flexible and will depend on a variety of factors.

Appointment LengthThe appointment will initially be for one year, but may be renewed upon recommendation of ARS and is contingent on the availability of funds.

Level of ParticipationThe appointment is full-time.

Participant Stipend: The participant will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience. 

Citizenship RequirementsThis opportunity is available to U.S. citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR), and foreign nationals. Non-U.S. citizen applicants should refer to the Guidelines for Non-U.S. Citizens Details page of the program website for information about the valid immigration statuses that are acceptable for program participation.

ORISE InformationThis program, administered by ORAU through its contract with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to manage the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), was established through an interagency agreement between DOE and ARS. Participants do not become employees of USDA, ARS, DOE or the program administrator, and there are no employment-related benefits. Proof of health insurance is required for participation in this program. Health insurance can be obtained through ORISE.

Questions: Please visit our Program Website. After reading, if you have additional questions about the application process please email and include the reference code for this opportunity.

The qualified candidate should have received a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in one of the relevant fields, or be currently pursuing one of the degrees with all degree requirements met by December 31, 2022.

Preferred Skills:

  • Previous laboratory experience using pipettes, centrifuges, and calculating dilutions.
  • Willingness to learn new laboratory techniques as needed to satisfy the needs of the project and willingness to process samples for microscopic examination.
  • Ability to conduct research independently, as well as part of a team while building and nurturing collaborations with external research groups
  • PCR
  • Strong organization skills

Additional Comments:

  • Participants may have the opportunity for interdisciplinary collaborations at the National Animal Disease Center on related projects.