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USDA-ARS Microbiology Research Opportunity

*Applications may be reviewed on a rolling-basis.
ARS Office/Lab and Location: A research opportunity is currently available with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) within the Mycotoxin Prevention and Applied Microbiology (MPM) Research Unit at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR) located in Peoria, Illinois.
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.
<<// >>. MPM Research Unit is a team of interdisciplinary scientists charged with the mission of conducting research to ensure safety and security of US agriculture by preventing crop contamination by harmful fungal toxins.
Research Project: The Whitaker Lab is located within the Mycotoxin Prevention & Applied Microbiology Unit at the AgLab in Peoria, IL. We research how beneficial bacterial and fungal partners can be recruited to help reduce disease from pathogenic Fusarium spp. in wheat and barley. As part of this goal, the ORISE intern will have the opportunity to participate in an ongoing field research project to identify the genetic and functional diversity of pathogenic Fusarium spp. in U.S.-grown barley. Additionally, they will gain hands-on experience in identifying and selecting bacterial and fungal partners that have the potential to impact barley growth and disease. 
Learning Objectives: The ORISE intern will develop skills in agricultural fieldwork, plant growth and maintenance, and basic microbiology skills such as growing microbiota, pipetting and inoculating plants with microbiota, and sterile technique. The intern will also have the opportunity to gain skills in experimental design and data analyses using statistical software R.
Mentor(s): The mentor(s) for this opportunity are Martha Vaughan ( and Briana Whitaker ( If you have questions about the nature of the research project, please contact the mentor(s).
Anticipated Appointment Start Date: May 15, 2023. Start date is flexible and will depend on a variety of factors.
Appointment Length: The 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 Participation: The appointment is full-time.
Participant Stipend: The participant will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience. 
Citizenship Requirements: This opportunity is available to U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR).
ORISE Information: This 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 be currently pursuing or have received an associate's, bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in one of the relevant fields.