Plant Pathologist

Washington D.C.
May 17, 2017
May 24, 2017
Full Time

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!

USDA is a great place to start or continue your career. USDA is ranked as one of the top 10 "Best Places to Work in the Federal Government" by the Partnership for Public Service ( Rankings are based on employee feedback regarding satisfaction with their work experience.

You will serve as an expert level plant pathologist at the National Plant Germplasm Quarantine Center (NPGQC), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, at Beltsville, MD.  The NPGQC has the only federal plant quarantine facility in the United States for the importation of certain plant propagules prohibited from commercial importation.  The function of the Plant Germplasm Quarantine Program (PGQP) is to establish and maintain foreign germplasm and cultivars under appropriate safeguarding conditions, conduct validated tests for pests, implement therapy if necessary, and distribute released plant propagules free of exotic and destructive pathogens.  These activities prevent the introduction of damaging fungi, bacteria, phytoplasmas, viruses, viroids, and undescribed infectious agents so that scientists and industry can safely obtain valuable foreign germplasm and cultivars for the improvement of U.S. agriculture.  You will manage and improve the quarantine programs for assigned prohibited crops at the NPGQC. 

Salary Information:  First time hires to the Federal government normally start at the lowest rate of the salary range for the grade selected.

This vacancy is limited to the first 50 applications received. All applications received prior to midnight (11:59 ET) of the day the application limit is reached will be accepted and considered. If the application limit is not reached by the closing date of the announcement, all applications received during the open period will be considered. Any required documents must be submitted at the time that you apply as documents will not be accepted past the day the application limit is reached, if applicable. If you choose to edit your application after it has been submitted, it will be removed from consideration until you re-submit your application. The date your application is last submitted will be used to determine whether you meet the cut-off criteria.  

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

  • Occasional Travel
  • Travel for training and work assignments may be required.

  • Yes
  • Relocation expenses may be paid.

  • US Citizenship is required.
  • Selective Service Registration is required for males born after 12/31/1959.
  • Subject to satisfactory completion of one year probationary period.
  • Valid state driver's license is required at the time of application.
  • Applicants must meet all qualifications and eligibility requirements by the closing date of the announcement including the following specialized experience and/or education, as identified by grade level.

    BASIC REQUIREMENT: 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.

    FOR THE GS-12 LEVEL: Applicants must have one year of specialized experience equivalent to the next lower level that may have been obtained in the private or public (local, county, state, Federal) sectors which demonstrates: 

    • Experience detecting and identifying a wide variety of plant pathogens.
    • Experience improving the detection procedure for one or more pathogens.
    • Knowledge of plant regulatory procedures.
    • Experience communicating with scientists.

    (Note: There is no education substitution for this grade level.)

    FOR THE GS-13 LEVEL: Applicants must have one year of specialized experience equivalent to the next lower level that may have been obtained in the private or public (local, county, state, Federal) sectors which demonstrates:

    • Experience managing a pathogen detection program.
    • Experience with propagating, pathogen testing, and therapy of plants.
    • Experience moving plants and pests between states and countries.
    • Experience communicating with importers, growers, scientists, and regulatory officials.

    (Note: There is no education substitution for this grade level.)

    TRANSCRIPTS are required:

    • This position requires specific coursework or a degree in a specific field to be basically qualified.
    • This education must have been successfully completed and obtained from an accredited school, college, or university.
    Experience refers to paid and unpaid experience, including volunteer work done through National Service programs (e.g., Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) and other organizations (e.g., professional; philanthropic; religious; spiritual; community, student, social). Volunteer work helps build critical competencies, knowledge, and skills and can provide valuable training and experience that translates directly to paid employment. You will receive credit for all qualifying experience, including volunteer experience.

    Special Conditions:

    • Selection and retention in this position is contingent on a successfully adjudicated FBI National Criminal History Check (fingerprint check) and a background investigation
    • Successful completion of a 1 year probationary or trial period (if new hire to the Federal service)
    • This position is eligible for telework within the local commuting area of the duty location of the position. Employee participation in telework is at the discretion of the supervisor
    • May experience long work hours, weekend work and travel.
    • There may be exposure to sun, wind, rain, pesticides, and to the everyday risks or discomforts associated with plant science research and service programs.
    • The incumbent will work at times in a Bio-safety Level 3 agriculture facility that will require changing clothes into work-suits.  APHIS and State policy requires changing clothing upon entry and showering prior to exit of the facility.  Working with toxic chemical agents is common in a laboratory setting. The work may also require safe contact with pesticides.
    • The incumbent could encounter plant pathogens of high risk or Select Agents outlined in 7 CFR 331 that will require the incumbent to submit to a FBI background investigation, in accordance with the USDA Policies and Procedures for BSL-3 facilities.

    Public Trust - Background Investigation

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