PLANT PATHOLOGIST
Department Of Agriculture - Beltsville, MD

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This position is with the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Beltsville, MD. The National Germplasm Resources Laboratory (NGRL) conducts research and service programs in the areas of plant germplasm introduction, exploration, documentation, evaluation, and utilization. NGRL scientists cooperate extensively with other ARS locations, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), universities, other federal agencies, and national/international organizations. This position conducts research related to germplasm quarantine and utilization activities, especially those carried out by the Plant Germplasm Quarantine Program of USDA-APHIS and the ARS National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS). The purpose of this position is to provide a high quality research program that supports the safe introduction and exchange of economically important plant genetic resources. The incumbent develops research projects designed to understand the biology of pathogens that infect economically important clonally propagated plant germplasm, including their etiology, detection, and elimination by therapeutic procedures.
    KEY REQUIREMENTS
  • You must be a U.S. Citizen to apply for this position
  • Suitable for Federal employment, determined by a background investigation
  • Males born after 12/31/59 must be registered with Selective Service
  • You must undergo a preemployment fingerprint check

DUTIES: Conducts service oriented research activities on submicroscopic obligate parasite plant pathogens (viruses, viroids, phytoplasmas) of quarantine significance using good laboratory practices and APHIS phytosanitary standards. Particular emphasis in this position is on solving pathology problems of clonally propagated germplasm that is required to enter the US through a quarantine program. Characterizes, at the biological and molecular level, submicroscopic plant pathogens detected in plant germplasm by conducting laboratory and greenhouse experiments.

Develops products and protocols for the detection of pathogens of quarantine significance that are superior to those currently available. Generates and presents data to facilitate science-based decisions about implementing new and superior testing protocols. Participates in research to eliminate pathogens of quarantine significance from plant germplasm. These may include both in vitro and in vivo methods, and may require basic research to develop in vitro culture protocols for some prohibited genera. Manages the implementation of procedures required to conduct research in controlled environments (greenhouse, screenhouse, growth chambers) according to sound horticultural and quarantine practices. Communicates and collaborates with colleagues from federal, state and private research laboratories, curators and staff of the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System, and other scientists in the plant germplasm user community as needed. Prepares and delivers reports and presentations to customers, clients and colleagues with an emphasis on documenting results and conclusions that might impact the operations of germplasm quarantine and certification programs. As appropriate, publishes results of research in peer reviewed literature. Uses a personal computer and ARS official laboratory notebook to maintain research information. Uses E-mail, the Internet, analytical software used in research (e.g. statistical, molecular), and word processing programs. Uses government vehicles to travel among worksites to coordinate activities. Maintains a valid driver’s license.

QUALIFICATIONS REQUIRED: Basic Requirements Degree: 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.

Additional Requirements

For the GS-12 level, applicants must possess 1 year of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-11 grade level in the federal service.

For the GS-13 level, applicants must possess 1 year of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-12 grade level in the federal service.

Specialized Experience is experience directly related to the position to be filled. The specialized experience requirements for this position are:
1. Knowledge of the theories, principles and methodology used in plant pathology, with an emphasis on submicroscopic plant pathogens (viruses, viroids).
2. Knowledge of national and international regulations governing the movement of plant germplasm between countries and within the US.
3. Skill in transmitting, detecting, identifying and charactrizing submicroscopic plant pathogens of a wide variety plant genra.

4. Knowledge of the techniques used for the vitro/tissue culture propagation of plant germplasm and methods to eliminate pathogens from such plant material.

This position has a positive education requirement. You must submit a copy of your academic transcripts OR a list of college courses with credit hours, dates completed, and grade point average or class ranking to verify education when applying for this position. If this information is not provided, your education may not be appropriately evaluated and you may lose consideration for this position. If you are selected for this position, you will have to provide an official copy of your transcripts prior to entering on duty.

Graduate education must be directly related to the work of the position and must have equipped you with the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to do the work.

Education completed outside of the United States must be deemed equivalent to that gained in conventional/accredited U.S. education programs to be acceptable for Federal employment. It is your responsibility to provide such evidence when applying. Please visit the Office of Personnel Management's website for additional information on this topic.

Time-in-grade restrictions apply for all candidates considered under Alternative Merit Promotion.

All qualification requirements must be met by the closing date of this vacancy announcement.

Applicants must be available to report for duty at the time a selection is made. Selections are typically made within 30 days of the closing date of the announcement.

HOW YOU WILL BE EVALUATED: You will be evaluated to determine if you meet the basic and any additional requirements. The Agricultural Research Service uses a category rating process. Based on evaluation of all written materials submitted in application for the position, you will be determined to be Ineligible if you do not meet eligibility and/or minimum qualifications criteria; Eligible if you meet all eligibility and minimum qualifications criteria; OR Quality if you meet quality criteria in addition to eligibility and minimum qualifications criteria.

BENEFITS: The Federal government offers a number of exceptional benefits to its employees. The following link provides an overview of the benefits currently offered to Federal employees: http://www.usajobs.gov/ResourceCenter/Index/Interactive/Benefits#icc .

OTHER INFORMATION: Displaced/Surplus Employees: Individuals eligible under the USDA Career Transition Assistance Program (CTAP) or the Interagency Career Transition Assistance Program (ICTAP) must be well qualified for the position to receive consideration for special priority selection. CTAP and ICTAP eligibles within the local commuting area will be considered well qualified if they meet basic eligibility requirements and all selective factors, and are rated in the Quality Category as described in the How You Will Be Evaluated section. Employees seeking CTAP/ICTAP eligibility must submit a copy of the agency notice, a copy of their most recent performance rating and a copy of their most recent SF-50 noting current position, grade level and duty location. Click here for additional information on CTAP and ICTAP.

If you are a veteran with preference eligibility and you are claiming 5-point veterans' preference , you must attach Member 4 copy of your DD-214. If you are claiming 10-point veterans' preference , you must attach an SF-15, Application for 10-Point Veterans' Preference plus the proof required by that form.

Qualified candidates eligible under the Veterans Employment Opportunities Act (VEOA) , a special hiring authority, will be considered. VEOA eligibles are preference eligibles or veterans who have been separated from the armed forces under honorable conditions after 3 years or more of active service. Veterans who are released under honorable conditions shortly before completing a 3-year tour are also eligible.

Status candidates who wish to be considered under both alternative merit promotion and non-status competitive examining must submit two complete applications when the position is open to both status and non-status candidates. When only one application is received, it will be considered under alternative merit promotion procedures.

Financial Disclosure Requirement: Federal employees are subject to prohibitions against officially dealing with outside organizations in which they have a financial interest. If hired for this position, you may be required to submit a financial disclosure report within 30 days of the effective date of your appointment and annually thereafter.

False statements: If you make a false statement in any part of your application, you may not be hired; may be fired after beginning work; or may be fined or jailed.

Reasonable Accommodation: If you need a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application and hiring process, or have questions regarding reasonable accommodation and/or accessibility for any part of the application and hiring process, please contact the Disability Program Manager on 202-720-6161 or through the DC Relay Service on 202-855-1234 (TDD).

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