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This Position Is No Longer Available

Job Title:  Research Molecular Biologist (Plants)/Research Geneticist (Plants)
Department:  Department Of Agriculture
Agency:  Agricultural Research Service
Job Announcement Number:  ARS-X14W-0041

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

The contents of the announcement can still be viewed.
$77,411.00 to $141,406.00 / Per Year
Friday, March 14, 2014 to Friday, April 25, 2014
Full Time - Permanent
1 vacancy in the following location:
Riverside, CA View Map
US Citizens, current and former status applicants, VEOA eligibles and persons eligible under special hiring authorities
Public Trust - Background Investigation


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

Seeking permanent, full-time Research Molecular Biologist (Plants)/Research Geneticist (Plants) to: identify plant genes associated with salt tolerance and specific ion toxicity, investigate the molecular mechanisms and genetic diversity associated with plant salt-related stress tolerance, and develop new crop genotypes that are more tolerant of salinity and specific ions.



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.

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


  • Occasional Travel
  • Position may require occasional travel.


  • No


  • 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:


As the primary scientist in evaluating genetic aspects of salt tolerance, the incumbent works with other researchers to assist in defining project goals, evaluating experimental strategies, assessing results, and proposing hypothesis. The incumbent’s primary objectives are: identifying molecular and physiological mechanisms for salt tolerance in selected plants, including already moderately salt tolerant forage species and salt sensitive specialty crops; identifying genes responsible for salt tolerance and ion toxicity, and using existing and new selection tools to develop or identify genetic resources and varietal lines with superior tolerance to salinity and/or toxic ions.


The incumbent’s research will emphasize using genomic and genetic approaches to improve salt stress resistance traits in selected crops, such as alfalfa, strawberries, grapes, beans or lettuce. Successful research will expand existing hypothesis, lead to the formulation of novel concepts, and the development of improved germplasm with tolerance to either salinity or specific toxic ions for geographic areas with scarce fresh water supplies.

Working Conditions and Other Considerations:

Work is conducted in a research laboratory which has inherent risks and requires wearing protective coats, goggles, and/or boots.  Domestic travel is required.



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GS-0401 – Research Molecular Biologist (Plants) - degree: biological sciences, agriculture, natural resources management, chemistry or related disciplines appropriate to the position OR a combination of courses equivalent to a major, as shown above, plus appropriate experience or additional education.


GS-0440 – Research Geneticist (Plants) - degree: genetics; or one of the basic biological sciences that included at least 9 semester hours in genetics.


Additional Requirements


GS-12: In order to qualify applicants must have a Ph.D. or equivalent doctoral degree OR demonstrate one year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the GS-11 grade level in the Federal Service.


GS-13: In order to qualify, applicants must demonstrate one year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the GS-12 grade level in the Federal Service.


GS-14: In order to qualify, applicants must demonstrate one year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the GS-13 grade level in the Federal Service.

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

1.  Knowledge of plant genetics or molecular biology in order to support research investigating crop salt tolerance and abiotic plant stress for sustainable and economic plant production using saline water or salt-affected soils.

2. Knowledge of gene expression software, such as BLASTp or GeneMapperR in order to analyze raw research data and draw conclusions.

3. Skill in identifying relevant genes MRNA and markers associated abiotic stress and related DNA and RNA assays, such as SSR, EST-derived SSR, qPCR, or qRT-PCR, RNAseq, QTL and proteomics.


4.  Ability to use statistical methodologies and related software programs, such as SAS, to analyze research data results.


5.  Ability to conceive, plan, conduct and report research results in peer-reviewed and scientific journals. 
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 Friday, April 25, 2014.  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




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.


Catherine Beck
Phone: (301)504-1573
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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