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This Position Is No Longer Available

Job Title:  Research Biological Scientist (Remote Sensing) or Research Physical Scientist (Remote Sensing)
Department:  Department Of Agriculture
Agency:  Agricultural Research Service
Job Announcement Number:  ARS-X14W-0001

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

The contents of the announcement can still be viewed.
$73,848.00 to $134,899.00 / Per Year
Tuesday, October 29, 2013 to Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Full Time - Permanent
1 vacancy in the following location:
Fort Collins, CO View Map
US Citizens, current and former status applicants, VEOA eligibles and persons eligible under special hiring authorities


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

Serves as a Research Scientist with expertise in Remote Sensing on a team of scientists and engineers in the Water Management Research Unit, Fort Collins, CO. Team's research assignment is to develop water management technologies and practices for irrigated agriculture in water deficit areas, which will improve water use efficiency, agricultural productivity and sustainability, and reduce negative environmental impacts.   


  • 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


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Major Duties:

Serves as a Research Scientist with expertise in Remote Sensing on a team of scientists and engineers in the Water Management Research Unit, Fort Collins, CO. Team's research assignment is to develop water management technologies and practices for irrigated agriculture in water deficit areas, which will improve water use efficiency, agricultural productivity and sustainability, and reduce negative environmental impacts.   Scientist's specific research assignment is to improve water productivity (yield per unit water consumed) of irrigated agronomic crops using remotely-sensed information from ground, airborne, and satellite sensors and to estimate crop water use, understand crop response to water stress, and provide information to optimally allocate limited irrigation water.   Uses plant-to-field scale remotely-sensed information, which includes visible, near infrared, and thermal infrared to quantify crop responses to water stress including evapotranspiration suppression, biomass accumulation, and yield.   Develops remote sensing-based techniques to schedule and allocate limited irrigation water to optimize water use and yield, as well as generate information that can be used to estimate evapotranspiration of water-stressed crops and be used by simulation modelers to improve modeled crop responses to water stress. Collaborates with team members who assist with agronomic practices, measure plant stress, and determine crop water use by soil water balance.   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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GS-0401: A degree in biological sciences, agriculture, natural resource management, chemistry, or related disciplines appropriate to the position OR courses equivalent to a major in one of the above areas, plus appropriate experience or additional education.

GS-1301: A degree in physical science, engineering, or mathematics that included 24 semester hours or equivalent in physical science, and/or related engineering science such as mechanics, dynamics, properties of materials, and electronics OR education equivalent to one of the above majors that included at least 24 semester hours in the physical sciences and/or related engineering science, plus appropriate experience or additional education.

In addition to one of the above requirement 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 level.

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

Selective Factor(s):  In order to be considered minimally qualified, you must possess the following:

Skill in developing and using remote sensing protocols to conduct original scientific research studies.

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

1. Ability to use remotely-sensed information from ground, airborne, and/or satellite sensors to estimate crop water use, crop/plant response to water stress, and develop information for optimal irrigation water allocation. 

2. Ability to utilize and/or develop remote sensors, instruments and protocols to assess the effects of water availability on crop stress and productivity and estimate evapotranspiration of crops.  

3. Ability to develop and/or use image-processing protocols to analyze thermal and multispectral images of crop and ground cover.

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.

esearch 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 Tuesday, December 17, 2013.  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  20705-5106
Fax: 301-504-1587

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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