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USDA-ARS Plant Genetic Resources Research Opportunity

*Applications may be reviewed on a rolling-basis.

ARS Office/Lab and LocationA research opportunity is currently available with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Floral and Nursery Plants Research Unit (FNPRU), the research division of the US National Arboretum (USNA). The FNPRU research laboratories are located in Beltsville, Maryland as part of the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC) while the USNA is in NE Washington, D.C. 

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.

The USNA is a 451 acre public garden and research facility with a mission to enhance the economic, environmental, and aesthetic value of ornamental and landscape plants through long-term, multidisciplinary research, conservation of genetic resources, and interpretative gardens and exhibits.

Research Project: The Woody Landscape Plant Germplasm Repository (WLPGR) is the USDA-ARS designated gene bank for over 200 genera of temperate trees, shrubs, and lianas. The WLPGR is responsible for the collection, characterization, maintenance, regeneration, and distribution of germplasm and associated information in order to benefit plant conservation and the broader scientific community. Under the guidance of a mentor, the selected participant will primarily be involved in aiding in the management and research of the germplasm collections maintained at the U.S. National Arboretum and the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. Research activities will include seed viability testing and germination; tissue culture; collecting, cleaning, and processing seed collections for cryostorage; GIS mapping; as well as watering, pruning, and general horticultural tasks in field and greenhouse settings. Research activities may include the collection of morphological and phenotypic data from live plants and plant organs in laboratory, greenhouse, and field setting; basic data analysis; preparation of tissue culture media and lab reagents; DNA extraction; plant pollination; and clonal plant regeneration. 

Learning ObjectivesAs a result of this training, the participant will learn or improve their skills in managing plant germplasm collections; including preservation of seeds and plant tissues, horticultural maintenance of field and laboratory specimens, data collection and analysis, and plant regeneration from seed and clonal propagules.

Mentor(s)The mentor for this opportunity is Todd Rounsaville ( If you have questions about the nature of the research please contact the mentor.

Anticipated Appointment Start Date: 2024; Start date is flexible and will depend on a variety of factors.

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

Level of ParticipationThe appointment is full-time, or part-time, and is negotiable.

Participant StipendThe participant(s) will receive an annual stipend commensurate with educational level and experience. The current stipend range for this opportunity is $3,580 - $5,400 per month.

Citizenship RequirementsThis opportunity is available to U.S. citizens only.

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 an associate's, bachelor's, or master's degree in one of the relevant fields, or be currently pursuing one of the degrees with completion before June 7, 2024. Degree must have been received within the past five years.

Preferred skills:

  • The ideal applicant will have a degree and/or experience working with vascular plants, a desire to learn and improve scientific skills, and willingness to spend time researching in laboratory, greenhouse, and field (outdoor) conditions.