Plant Pathologist Idenitifier
Department Of Agriculture - Portland, OR

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The incumbent performs specialized and difficult taxonomic work based on major subject matter expertise, providing expertise in pest biology, taxonomy and risk analysis as a recognized specialist and consultant or team member to Agency import policy staff, survey design groups, survey personnel, and Cooperative Agriculturist Pest Survey (CAPS) program managers.

You can make a difference! The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Marketing and Regulatory Programs (MRP) needs bright, energetic and committed professionals to facilitate the domestic and international marketing of U.S. agricultural products and to protect the health and care of animals and plants in the United States. MRP offers an array of occupations and is committed to diversity in the workplace. We operate in domestic and global markets. Be part of an organization that protects the health and agriculture of the American people. Join our team!

APHIS is an emergency response agency. This means that all Agency employees may be asked or assigned to participate in rotating temporary duty assignments to support emergency programs at some time during their careers with APHIS. For details click: APHIS Emergency Response


U.S. Citizenship

The duties described are for the full-performance level. At developmental grade levels, assignments will be of more limited scope, performed with less independence and limited complexity. The duties may include, but are not limited to:

Identifies or verifies identification of plant pests, such as plant pathogens (i.e., bacterial, fungus) and identifies and isolates nematodes; identifies species to genera and, where sufficient, information is available, to species.

Categorizes potential risk as injurious and of economic significance; cosmopolitan and domestic and not significant; or not significant or cosmopolitan and domestic by significant in particular parts of the US.

Maintains, develops, and supplements information on taxonomy, hosts, distribution and other related information pertaining to intercepted and/or survey plant pests; develops and maintains specimen collections of plant pests pertinent to programs in the incumbent’s area of coverage.

Consults with and advises Department of Homeland Security (DHS) , State departments of agriculture and other cooperators on the identity of biology and procedures for detecting plant pests, such as plant pathogens.

Develops or aids in developing training modules and appropriately illustrated identification aids and works with national program staff to deliver training to PPQ, DHS and State employees.

Exercises agency regulatory authority by initiating regulatory action, e.g., for quarantine pests intercepted from imported commodities or new State or county determinations from domestic surveys.

Provides technical assistance regarding Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) domestic program pests and exotic pests and the pathways with which they enter the US by analyzing interception records for trends of past entry, monitoring inspection procedures and establishing solid contacts with industry.

Keeps current and uses state of the art technology to perform taxonomic duties such as digital imaging, chemical diagnostic tests and microscopy and specimen preparation techniques and equipment.

To qualify, you MUST meet all qualification requirements by the closing date of the announcement.


Degree in plant pathology; or a related scientific discipline that included at least 20 semester hours in basic botany or plant science, and 10 semester hours in plant pathology.

Graduate Education: Must have been in plant pathology, or in one of the recognized subject-matter fields of plant pathology, or have followed a curriculum or pattern of training that placed major emphasis on plant pathology or one of the recognized subject-matter fields of plant pathology, such as those dealing with particular types of pathogens, diseases of particular kinds of crops, or chemical or biological controls. Graduate study in related fields such as microbiology, entomology, plant physiology, genetics, agronomy, horticulture, forestry, or chemistry may also be qualifying, provided it placed a sufficient amount of emphasis on plant pathology.

Evaluation of Education: Courses in botany, plant physiology, plant taxonomy, plant pathology, agronomy, forestry, horticulture, or similar subjects may be used to meet the 20-semester-hour requirement in basic botany or plant science. To meet the specific 10-semester-hour requirement in plant pathology, the courses must have been in plant pathology, or have dealt with specific subject matter areas of plant pathology such as those concerned with viruses, fungal or bacterial diseases, host-plant relationships, biotic or chemical controls, environmental or physiological diseases, parasitic diseases, etc.

TRANSCRIPTS are required if:
This position requires specific coursework or a degree in a specific field to be basically qualified.

You are qualifying for the position based on education.

You are qualifying for this position based on a combination of experience and education.

This education must have been successfully completed and obtained from an accredited school, college, or university. For more information on submitting transcripts, click: Transcripts


GS-11: Three years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to a Ph.D. degree or Ph.D. or equivalent doctoral degree in plant pathology, or in one of the recognized subject-matter fields of plant pathology, such as those dealing with particular types of pathogens, diseases of a particular kinds of crops, or chemical or biological controls.



Applicants must have one year of specialized experience equivalent in level of difficulty and responsibility to the next lower level in the Federal service. This experience is typically in or related to the work of the position being filled. Examples of specialized experience at the GS-11 and 12 levels includes :

Preparing microscopic slide mounts of plant disease material.

Provided sound plant disease identification using various taxonomic manuals

Recommending specific plant disease inspection techniques to Plant Health personnel.

Conducting scientifically-based pet risk analyses on pest pathways and transmitting that information to appropriate federal and state stakeholders.


Applicants may have combinations of successfully completed education in biological sciences, agriculture, natural resource management, chemistry or a closely related field and specialized experience to meet total qualification requirements. The total percentages must equal at least 100 percent to qualify an applicant for that grade level. To learn more about combining education and experience for this series, click the following: Combining Education and Experience for Professional and Scientific Positions

Special Conditions:
Males born after 12/31/59 must be registered with the Selective Service.

DD214 (Member 4 copy) or other veterans' documents required to receive veterans' preference.

As a condition of employment, a background investigation may be required for this position.

Subject to satisfactory completion of one-year probationary period.

Transcripts must be submitted for this position.

A valid and current state driver’s license is required.

Some travel is required.

The work is performed in an inspection station or laboratory setting. There are regular and recurring risks associated with working around chemicals.

The position is generally sedentary, although there is prolonged standing at times.

Occasional field surveys/investigations or collection trips require walking, bending, crouching, and climbing for prolonged periods in rough terrain subject to a variety of weather conditions.

Must be able to perform work wearing a respirator.

Your application will be rated on the extent and quality of your experience, education and training relevant to the position. Your resume must support that you meet the specialized experience requirements described above and are proficient in the following skills or competencies below. Please note you are not required to provide specific narrative responses to the skills and competencies described in this section.

Skill in identifying and taxonomy of plant pests and plant pathogens

Ability to research, organize and analyze data

Knowledge of plant protection an quarantine regulatory principles and practices

Ability to effectively communicate orally and in writing and work productively in a team setting

Category rating procedures will be used to rank and select eligible candidates. The following quality categories will be used: Best Qualified, Well Qualified, and Qualified. Within each quality category, veterans' preference eligibles will receive selection priority over non-veterans.

Your final category placement will be based on your responses to the assessment questionnaire. Please ensure your resume provides enough detail to support your responses.

If, after reviewing your resume and / or supporting documentation, a determination is made that you have inflated your qualifications and or experience, your score can / will be adjusted to more accurately reflect your abilities. Please follow all instructions carefully. Errors or omissions may affect your rating. Deliberate attempts to falsify information may be grounds for not selecting you.

To preview questions please click here .

Eligibility for employee benefits depends on your type of appointment and your tour of duty (work schedule). Generally, you must be hired on a permanent basis and have a regular full or part-time work schedule. For more information on potential benefits, go to: Federal Employee Benefits

Range for GS-11: $60,520 to $78,674 (incl. 20.35% locality pay)

Range for GS-12: $72,540 to $94,300 (incl. 20.35% locality pay)

For information regarding CTAP eligibility for displaced Federal employees click: Career Transition Assistance Programs

More than one selection may be made if another vacancy occurs within 90 days of the issuance of the certification of eligibles.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc) should contact: USDA's TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD).

For information on filing a complaint of discrimination, click: Filing a Complaint

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