Job Overview


You can make a difference! The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Marketing and Regulatory Programs (MRP) needs bright, energetic and committed professionals to facilitate the domestic and international marketing of U.S. agricultural products and to protect the health and care of animals and plants in the United States. MRP offers an array of occupations and is committed to diversity in the workplace. We operate in domestic and global markets. Be part of an organization that protects the health and agriculture of the American people. Join our team!

USDA is a great place to start or continue your career. USDA is ranked as one of the top 10 "Best Places to Work in the Federal Government" by the Partnership for Public Service ( Rankings are based on employee feedback regarding satisfaction with their work experience.

The work in this position directly impacts Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Plant and Protection Quarantine (PPQ), Policy Management, Plant and Health Programs (PHP), National Identification Services' (NIS) decisions to allow or disallow shipments of imported goods to enter the United States when plant pests are found associated with those shipments during port of entry inspections,. The work also affects the Agency’s ability to detect, delimit, and eradicate or control introduced exotic, quarantine-significant organisms.  You will be making diagnostic determinations or develop tools that have an impact on international trade and affect the financial interests of exporters/importers.   As a molecular systematist, you will perform taxonomic and phylogenetic analysis of plant pests for which approved tests are not available and such analyses are also needed when technical field personnel and personnel from other national and international organizations cannot authoritatively identify plant pests submitted from any part of the world.  Some of these plant pests have not been characterized for such identification. You will be using data that accompany samples and information relevant to diagnosis, such as the identity, origin, or condition of the infected or infested plant material. Accuracy and attention to detail are essential. 

Salary Information:  First time hires to the Federal government normally start at the lowest rate of the salary range for the grade selected.

APHIS is an emergency response agency. This means that all Agency employees may be asked or assigned to participate in rotating temporary duty assignments to support emergency programs at some time during their careers with APHIS. For details click: APHIS Emergency Response


The duties described are for the full-performance level. At developmental grade levels, assignments will be of more limited scope, performed with less independence and limited complexity.

The duties may include, but are not limited to:

  • Provides guidance to Agency’s application of molecular diagnostics, including assays for pest detection and methods for confirming pest identification, as that technology relates to quarantine action and pest identification policies; and provides technical expertise to Agency’s deployment and use of molecular technology in relation to identification activities.
  • Develops and evaluates options for solving issues arising from the ability to identify morphologically indistinguishable taxa to species.
  • Interprets Agency action policy in light of molecular technology as applied to taxonomy and identification, and develops and modifies policy as needed.
  • Provides guidance in developing international standards and harmonizing standards with other National Plant Protection Organizations.
  • Develops a database of molecular sequences to characterize exotic plant pests frequently intercepted from shipments of cargo imported into the United States, and from other sample sources, such as domestic field surveys, domestic emergency programs, international programs, export certification inspections, and smuggling and interdiction interceptions.
  • Works alone and with other scientists in developing, adapting, and implementing new laboratory protocols for identifying exotic plant pests using sequence analysis, and independently develops or designs various aspects of these projects on the basis of overall objectives outlined by the Agency and other scientists.
  • Evaluates and makes recommendations for management officials regarding quarantine issues are based on analysis and interpretation of information obtained from many sources, both published and unpublished.

Travel Required

  • Occasional Travel
  • Travel for training and work assignments may be required.

Relocation Authorized

  • Yes
  • Relocation expenses may be paid.