Research Soil Scientist/Agronomist/Agricultural Engineer

Employer
USAJobs
Location
Beltsville, Maryland
Posted
Apr 17, 2021
Closes
Apr 25, 2021
Hours
Full Time
Duties

Summary

This position is serves as a Research Soil Scientist/Agronomist/Agricultural Engineer in the Adaptive Cropping Systems Laboratory, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Beltsville, MD. The mission of this unit is to evaluate crop responses to climate change, develop adaptation and mitigation strategies, apply systems theory to the solution of complex, agricultural problems and to develop computer-aided farm decision support systems and assessment tools for environmental study and analysis.

Learn more about this agency

Responsibilities

  • Quantify the influence of cover crop biomass production on soil health and cash crop performance as affected by climate.
  • Mechanistic and quantifiable relationships among cover crop species, geographic location, local soil biome, and production system constraints will be developed to elucidate cover crop management regimes to improve long-term soil health.
  • These relationships will advance the understanding of the effects of management on the soil biome, and corresponding effects soil biome composition has on production systems.
  • Work collaboratively with scientists from other agency laboratories to obtain experimental data regarding cover crop biomass and residue from multiple locations.
  • Controlled environment studies will be designed and conducted to obtain rising temperature and/or elevated CO2 impacts on soil microbiome and plant responses in local soil ecosystems and from select cover crop species, respectively.
  • Planning research activities, reporting to customers and scientific peers, and supporting technology transfer of products developed during research.


Travel Required

Not required

Supervisory status
No

Promotion Potential
15

Requirements

Conditions of Employment

  • You must be a US Citizen or US National
  • Males born after 12/31/1959 must be Selective Service registered or exempt
  • Subject to satisfactory adjudication of background investigation and/or fingerprint check
  • Direct Deposit ? Per Public Law 104-134 all Federal employees are required to have federal payments made by direct deposit to their financial institution.
  • Successfully pass the E-Verify employment verification check. To learn more about E-Verify, including your rights and responsibilities, visit E-Verify at https://www.e-verify.gov/.
  • Successful completion of a three year probationary period.


Qualifications

Applicants must meet all qualifications and eligibility requirements by the closing date of the announcement including specialized experience and/or education, as defined below.

Additional Requirements: In addition to meeting the basic Education requirements described below, applicants must also meet additional qualification requirements as follows:

At the GS-12:
Applicants must demonstrate at least one full year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the GS-11 grade level in the Federal service or possess a Ph.D. or equivalent doctoral degree or possess an equivalent combination of graduate level education and experience. Graduate education must be directly related to the work of the position and must have equipped applicants with the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to do the work.

Specialized experience is experience directly related to the position to be filled. The specialized experience requirements for the GS-12 level of this position are: Experience researching the integration of cover crops into soil lifecycles, with a goal of increasing cash crop yields; AND Experience developing models and quantifying plant and soil processes that elucidate optimal cover crop and cash crop management that confer soil system resiliency.

At the GS-13:
Applicants must demonstrate at least one full year of specialized experience equivalent to at least 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 the GS-13 level of this position are: Experience researching the integration of cover crops into soil lifecycles, with a goal of increasing cash crop yields; Experience developing models and quantifying plant and soil processes that elucidate optimal cover crop and cash crop management that confer soil system resiliency; Experience integrating new soil or crop modeling tools into existing cash-crop and soil models; AND Experience independently conceiving, conducting, publishing, or leading modeling / experimental research projects.

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 and can provide valuable training and experience that translates directly to paid employment. You will receive credit for all qualifying experience, including volunteer experience.
To further support your qualifications, it is strongly recommended that you submit a one-page abstract of your MS thesis and/or Ph.D. dissertation. Failure to do so could result in loss of your consideration/referral. Also, please submit a list of names, addresses, and phone numbers of persons familiar with your stature, contributions, recognition; any honors or awards received; memberships in professional or honor societies; invitations to make presentations at scientific/technical meetings; scientific society office and committee assignments; presentations (other than invitation); and publications.

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.

Education

Basic Requirements

0470, Soil Sciences Series:
Degree: soil science or a closely related discipline that included 30 semester hours or equivalent in biological, physical, or earth science, with a minimum of 15 semester hours in such subjects as soil genesis, pedology, soil chemistry, soil physics, and soil fertility.

OR

Combination of education and experience: courses equivalent to a major in soil science or a related discipline that included at least 30 semester hours in the biological, physical, or earth sciences. At least 15 of these semester hours must have been in the areas specified above, plus appropriate experience or additional education.

0471, Agronomy Series:
Degree: agronomy; or related discipline of science that included at least 30 semester hours of course work in the basic plant sciences, including at least 15 semester hours in agronomic subjects, such as those dealing with plant breeding, crop production, and soil and crop management.

OR

Combination of education and experience: at least 30 semester hours in the basic plant sciences, including a minimum of 15 semester hours in agronomic subjects, as shown above, plus appropriate experience or additional education.

Graduate Education: Agronomy, or one of the related disciplines or fields of science, such as plant physiology, soils, or genetics, where the curriculum or pattern of training placed major emphasis on field crops or agronomy. Graduate study in related fields, such as botany, plant pathology, and biochemistry may also be qualifying, provided it placed a sufficient amount of emphasis on agronomy.

Evaluation of Education: Course work in such subjects as botany, plant taxonomy, plant physiology, plant breeding or genetics, plant ecology, plant pathology, microbiology, agronomy, or those dealing with basic soil-water-plant relationships of an agronomic or ecologic nature may be used to meet the 30-semester-hour requirement in the basic plant sciences. Agronomy courses include agronomy, fieldcrops, field crop production or management, soil and crop management, plant breeding and development, weed control, and similar courses, including those in soils, biochemistry, plant physiology, etc., provided they dealt with principles, methods, or procedures that are applied directly in agronomic work and in the solving of agronomic problems.

Agricultural Engineering Series, 0890:
A. Degree: Engineering. To be acceptable, the program must: (1) lead to a bachelor's degree in a school of engineering with at least one program accredited by ABET; or (2) include differential and integral calculus and courses (more advanced than first-year physics and chemistry) in five of the following seven areas of engineering science or physics: (a) statics, dynamics; (b) strength of materials (stress-strain relationships); (c) fluid mechanics, hydraulics; (d) thermodynamics; (e) electrical fields and circuits; (f) nature and properties of materials (relating particle and aggregate structure to properties); and (g) any other comparable area of fundamental engineering science or physics, such as optics, heat transfer, soil mechanics, or electronics.

OR

B. Combination of education and experience -- college-level education, training, and/or technical experience that furnished (1) a thorough knowledge of the physical and mathematical sciences underlying engineering, and (2) a good understanding, both theoretical and practical, of the engineering sciences and techniques and their applications to one of the branches of engineering.

The adequacy of such background must be demonstrated by one of the following:

1. Professional registration or licensure -- Current registration as an Engineer Intern (EI), Engineer in Training (EIT)1, or licensure as a Professional Engineer (PE) by any State, the District of Columbia, Guam, or Puerto Rico. Absent other means of qualifying under this standard, those applicants who achieved such registration by means other than written test (e.g., State grandfather or eminence provisions) are eligible only for positions that are within or closely related to the specialty field of their registration. For example, an applicant who attains registration through a State Board's eminence provision as a manufacturing engineer typically would be rated eligible only for manufacturing engineering positions.

2. Written Test -- Evidence of having successfully passed the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE)2 examination or any other written test required for professional.
registration by an engineering licensure board in the various States, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

3. Specified academic courses -- Successful completion of at least 60 semester hours of courses in the physical, mathematical, and engineering sciences and that included the courses specified in the basic requirements under paragraph A. The courses must be fully acceptable toward meeting the requirements of an engineering program as described in paragraph A.

4. Related curriculum -- Successful completion of a curriculum leading to a bachelor's degree in an appropriate scientific field, e.g., engineering technology, physics, chemistry, architecture, computer science, mathematics, hydrology, or geology, may be accepted in lieu of a bachelor's degree in engineering, provided the applicant has had at least 1 year of professional engineering experience acquired under professional engineering supervision and guidance. Ordinarily there should be either an established plan of intensive training to develop professional engineering competence, or several years of prior professional engineering-type experience, e.g., in interdisciplinary positions. (The above examples of related curricula are not all-inclusive.)

Additional information

This is an interdisciplinary position and may be filled in any of the job series/position titles listed. In addition to the specialized experience requirements, applicants must submit proof that they meet the educational requirements for at least one of the series described in the announcement. Applicants may only be appointed to job series/position titles for which they meet all experience and educational requirements.

Research scientists have open-ended promotion potential. Research accomplishments and their impact on the duties and responsibilities of positions are evaluated periodically. The grade level is limited only by the individual's demonstrated ability to perform research of recognized importance to science and technology. *Final grade level may be determined by a peer review panel.

This position requires the selectee to undergo a pre-employment check and a full background investigation. Any offer made is considered a tentative job offer pending the outcome of the pre-employment check. Retention in the position is based upon a favorable adjudication of the background investigation. The incumbent will be subject to periodic reinvestigations.
Career Transition Assistance Plan (CTAP), Reemployment Priority List (RPL), or Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan (ICTAP): Visit the OPM website for information on how to apply as a CTAP, RPL, or ICTAP eligible. To exercise selection priority for this vacancy, CTAP/RPL/ICTAP candidates must meet the basic eligibility requirements and all selective factors. CTAP/ICTAP candidates must be rated and determined to be well qualified (or above) based on an evaluation of the competencies listed in the How You Will Be Evaluated section. When assessed through a score-based category rating method, CTAP/ICTAP applicants must receive a rating of at least 71 out of a possible 100.
Recruitment or Relocation Incentive may be authorized. Final determination to pay an incentive will be made by the hiring official at time of job offer.

This position may be eligible to telework up to four days per week, based upon the duties of the position. This position may also be eligible for flexible work arrangements as determined by agency policy and any applicable collective bargaining agreements.

How You Will Be Evaluated

You will be evaluated for this job based on how well you meet the qualifications above.

You will be evaluated in accordance with the category rating procedure as defined in the USDA Demonstration Project Plan. Applicants who meet the basic minimum qualification requirements established for the position will be placed in the Eligible category. Eligible applicants will be further evaluated against criteria for placement in the Quality category. This evaluation is based on the level of your experience, education, and/or training as determined by your responses to the Assessment Questionnaire. Applicants with veterans' preference are listed ahead of applicants who do not have veterans' preference within each category.
Note: If, after reviewing your resume and/or supporting documentation, a determination is made that you have inflated your qualifications and or experience, your score may be adjusted to more accurately reflect your abilities, or you may be found ineligible. Please follow all instructions carefully. Errors or omissions may affect your rating. Providing inaccurate information on Federal documents could be grounds for non-selection or disciplinary action up to including removal from the Federal service.

Clicking the link below will present a preview of the application form; i.e. the online questionnaire. The application form link below will only provide a preview and does not initiate the application process. To initiate the online application process, click the "Apply" button to the right.

To view the application form, visit: https://apply.usastaffing.gov/ViewQuestionnaire/11072693

Background checks and security clearance

Security clearance
Not Required

Drug test required
No

Position sensitivity and risk
Non-sensitive (NS)/Low Risk

Trust determination process
Suitability/Fitness

Required Documents

The following documents are required for your applicant package to be complete. Our office cannot be responsible for incompatible software, your system failure, etc. Encrypted documents will not be accepted. Failure to submit required, legible documents may result in loss of consideration.
  • Resume that includes:1) personal information such as name, address, contact information; 2) education; 3) detailed work experience related to this position as described in the major duties including work schedule, hours worked per week, dates of employment; title, series, grade (if applicable); 4) other qualifications.
  • If education is required or you are using education to qualify, you must submit a copy of your college transcripts. An unofficial copy is sufficient with the application if it includes your name and the necessary course information; however, if you are selected, you will be required to submit official transcripts prior to entering on duty. Education must have been successfully obtained from an accredited school, college or university. If any education was completed at a foreign institute, you must submit with your application evidence that the institute was appropriately accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as equivalent to U.S. education standards. There are private organizations that specialize in this evaluation and a fee is normally associated with this service. For a list of private organizations that evaluate education, visit the NACES website. All transcripts must be in English or include an English translation.
  • If claiming veteran's preference, you must submit a DD214, Certificate of Release from Active Duty, which shows dates of service and discharge under honorable conditions.If currently on active duty you must submit a certification of expected discharge or release from active duty service under honorable conditions not later than 120 days after the date the certification is submitted.Veteran's preference must be verified prior to appointment.Without this documentation, you will not receive veteran's preference and your application will be evaluated based on the material(s) submitted.
  • If claiming 10-point veteran's preference you must provide the DD214 or certification requirements (see above bullet), plus the proof of entitlement of this preference as listed on the SF-15 Application for 10-point Veterans' Preference. The SF-15 should be included but is not required. Failure to submit these documents could result in the determination that there is insufficient documentation to support your claim for 10-point preference. For more information on veterans' preference visit FEDSHIREVETS
  • Surplus or displaced employees eligible for CTAP, RPL, or ICTAP priority must provide: proof of eligibility (RIF separation notice, notice of proposed removal for declining a transfer of function or directed reassignment to another commuting area, notice of disability annuity termination), SF-50 documenting separation (as applicable), and your most recent SF-50 noting position, grade level, and duty location with your application per 5 CFR 330.


If you are relying on your education to meet qualification requirements:

Education must be accredited by an accrediting institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in order for it to be credited towards qualifications. Therefore, provide only the attendance and/or degrees from schools accredited by accrediting institutions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education .

Failure to provide all of the required information as stated in this vacancy announcement may result in an ineligible rating or may affect the overall rating.

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