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This Position Is No Longer Available

Job Title:  Research Soil Scientist
Department:  Department Of Agriculture
Agency:  Agricultural Research Service
Job Announcement Number:  ARS-X13W-0042

This position is closed and no longer accepting online applications through USAJOBS.

The contents of the announcement can still be viewed.
$76,644.00 to $140,008.00 / Per Year
Monday, February 25, 2013 to Monday, March 25, 2013
Full Time - Permanent
1 vacancy in the following location:
Riverside, CA United StatesView Map
US Citizens and Status Candidates


Find Solutions to Agricultural Problems that Affect Americans Every Day, From Field to Table

The position is located at the U.S. Soil Salinity Laboratory adjacent to the University of California campus in Riverside, CA.   Serves as a member of an interdisciplinary research team charged with promoting the sustainability of irrigated agriculture in semi-arid regions by conducting research to develop methods for evaluating, predicting, and managing the movement of water, salts and nutrients in the root and vadose zones; and by developing new soil-water management strategies to make effective use of limited water resources available to agriculture.


This job opportunity announcement may be used to fill additional vacancies.


  • You must be a U.S. Citizen to apply for this position.
  • Suitability for Federal employment, determined by background investigation.
  • Males born after 12/31/59 must be registered with Selective Service.


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Major Duties:

Serves as a member of an interdisciplinary research team charged with conducting research to develop quantitative methods for evaluating, predicting, and managing the movement of water, salts and nutrients in the root and vadose zones; develop new tools, sensors and models for assessing soil salinity and nutrient status; quantify the effects of salinity on agricultural systems; develop new soil-water management strategies that mitigate adverse impacts associated with water and nutrient management and optimize the use of limited natural resources, while protecting agricultural production, groundwater and environmental systems.  The research will involve conducting fundamental experimental studies to reveal and interpret the mechanisms and processes that affect soil, water, salts, and nutrients in the root zone; developing new sensors and instruments that facilitate an integrated interpretation of the relevant soil physical, chemical and environmental processes affecting soil conditions, soil solution composition and drainage water quality; and developing new and improved water and salinity management strategies to facilitate crop production for water-limited conditions and in response to climate change.  Research results will be disseminated at scientific meetings and in peer-reviewed scientific publications, and appropriate extramural funding opportunities will be explored.



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A degree in soil science or a closely related discipline that included 30 semester hours or equivalent in physical, biological, or earth science, with a minimum of 15 semester hours in such subjects as soil physics, soil chemistry, soil fertility, soils genesis, and pedology OR a combination of education and experience – course work equivalent to a major in soil science or a related discipline that included at least 30 semester hours in the physical, earth, or biological sciences.   At least 15 of these semester hours must have been in the areas specified above, plus appropriate experience or additional education.

In addition to the basic educational requirements above, candidates must have:

GS-12:  One year of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-11 grade level OR a Ph.D. or equivalent doctoral degree.  If qualifying based on education, your education must demonstrate that you possess the knowledge, skills, and abilities (see below) necessary to do the work.

GS-13:  One year specialized experience equivalent to the GS-12 grade level.

GS-14:  One year specialized experience equivalent to the GS-13 grade level.  

Specialized Experience is experience directly related to the position to be filled.  The specialized experience requirements for this position are:

1. Ability to conduct quantitative research that examines mechanisms and processes affecting soil, water, and nutrients in salt-affected soil; and which improves agricultural and natural resource management. 

2. Ability to develop and utilize sensors, instruments and methods to assess the effects of root-zone salinity and nutrient management in irrigated agricultural soils and to measure the effects of water management on crop production.  

3.  Ability to determine the effects of water management on nutrients and soil salinity by manipulating water and irrigation practices, while maintaining crop production and mitigating the adverse effects of salinity in the root zone.  

4. Ability to conceive, plan, conduct, and publish research in peer-reviewed scientific journals and make presentations at scientific meetings. 

Applicants must address the specialized experience requirements in their resume (or application documents).  Applications that do not reflect the specialized experience requirements will not be deemed qualified.

To be considered for a research scientist position, you must submit a one-page abstract of your MS thesis and/or Ph.D. dissertation.  Also, 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.

Vacant research positions may be filled at one of several grade levels depending upon the scientific impact of the person selected.  A peer review may be required to determine the appropriate grade level of the position and supplemental materials may be required from the selectee.

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 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.



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.


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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:



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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Applications may be mailed, faxed, or e-mailed to the appropriate address and/or facsimile number listed below, but they must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on TAG:Closing Date.  Certain individuals are entitled to file a late application and must contact the Agency Contact listed below for details and application instructions.


Department of Agriculture


5601 Sunnyside Avenue, Stop 5106

Beltsville, MD  20705-5106E-mail:

If sending your application as an attachment to an email, do not send zipped files.  They will be removed in accordance with standard electronic security procedures.  If hand delivered, be sure your application is received in the Human Resources Division on or before closing date.


To ensure your application fully outlines your qualifications and eligibility for this position, please review the application package checklist at:

NOTE:  Applications received in postage paid government envelopes will not be considered.


Cindy Prucha
Phone: (301)504-1581
TDD: 202-855-1234
Agency Information:
Agricultural Research Service
5601 Sunnyside Avenue
Beltsville, MD


You will be notified by mail once your application is received.  After a review of your complete application is made, you will be notified or your rating and/or referral to the hiring official.  If further evaluation or interviews are required you will be contacted.   

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