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USDA-ARS Internship in Screening of Exotic Cereal Rust Accessions in BSL3 Containment

*Applications will be reviewed on a rolling-basis.

ARS Office/Lab and Location: A research opportunity is currently available with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), at the Foreign Disease-Weed Science Research Unit (FDWSRU) located in Ft. Detrick, Maryland.

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.

Research ProjectThe FDWSRU partners with ARS Cereal Disease Laboratory (CDL) in St. Paul, MN in research supporting the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative (BGRI) and the Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat Project, (DRRW) with global research partners. Exotic cereal rust pathogen samples from worldwide BGRI and DRRW collaborators are shipped to the unique FDWSRU BSL3 Plant Pathogen Containment Facility from March through November each year for preliminary screening and archiving. This important research will provide an opportunity for an undergraduate student to conduct research in a high containment plant pathology facility and learn fundamental principles and methods of plant pathology.  

Learning ObjectivesUnder the guidance of a mentor, the selected participant will have the opportunity to learn from research activities such as harvesting fungal spores from incoming rust disease samples, propagation of resistant and susceptible wheat lines from seed, and inoculation of rust sample spores on selected wheat lines. The student will learn how to visually assess the resulting disease reactions on the wheat lines, and document the results in notebook and electronic form.

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

Anticipated Appointment Start Date: May 23, 2022. Start date is flexible and will depend on a variety of factors.

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

Level of ParticipationThe appointment is full-time. 

Participant StipendThe participant(s) will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience.

Citizenship RequirementsThis opportunity is available to U.S. citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR), and foreign nationals. Non-U.S. citizen applicants should refer to the Guidelines for Non-U.S. Citizens Details page of the program website for information about the valid immigration statuses that are acceptable for program participation.

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. However, this position requires a pre-employment check and a full background investigation. Proof of health insurance is required for participation in this program. Health insurance can be obtained through ORISE.

This is an equal opportunity program open to all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, age, sex, religion, national origin, mental or physical disability, genetic information, sexual orientation, or covered veteran’s status.

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.