This position is located in the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC), Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory, in Beltsville, MD.
The incumbent investigates soil biological, chemical, and physical mechanisms associated with nutrient cycling, bioavailability and transport; and relationships between soil organic matter composition, agricultural inputs, and determining the practices that improve soil structure/soil health.
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- Provide technical guidance and insight in the influence of the soil ecosystem and historical management on whole cropping system performance (including PSR, climate extremes, and sustainable intensification).
- Responsible for planning research activities, reporting to customers and scientific peers, and supporting technology transfer of products developed during research.
- Develop empirical and mechanistic knowledge regarding the effects of crop and soil management on soil organic matter dynamics, nutrient cycling and bioavailability that are associated with physical, biological, and chemical soil properties.
- Conduct research deducing crucial mechanisms underlying soil biological/biogeochemical relationships in both abiotic and biotic spheres, including carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas emissions, nutrient dynamics, and plant pathogenesis.
- Utilize sophisticated controlled environment systems and field studies as necessary to evaluate existing concepts and paradigms in this field.
- Use long-term databases, including GRACEnet, REAP, and geospatial statistical resources such as the LTAR network and Agricultural Collaborative Research Outcomes System (AgCROS)
Occasional travel – You may be expected to travel for this position.
Conditions of Employment
- You must be a US Citizen or US National
- Males born after 12/31/1959 must be Selective Service registered or exempt
- Subject to satisfactory adjudication of background investigation and/or fingerprint check
- Direct Deposit ? Per Public Law 104-134 all Federal employees are required to have federal payments made by direct deposit to their financial institution.
- Successfully pass the E-Verify employment verification check. To learn more about E-Verify, including your rights and responsibilities, visit E-Verify at https://www.e-verify.gov/.
- Successful completion of a three year probationary period.
Applicants must meet all qualifications and eligibility requirements by the closing date of the announcement including specialized experience and/or education, as defined below.
Applicants must meet the basic requirements for at least 1 of the 3 series listed below in addition to the minimum qualifications.
Soil Science, 470:
Degree: soil science or a closely related discipline that included 30 semester hours or equivalent in biological, physical, or earth science, with a minimum of 15 semester hours in such subjects as soil genesis, pedology, soil chemistry, soil physics, and soil fertility.
Combination of education and experience: courses equivalent to a major in soil science or a related discipline that included at least 30 semester hours in the biological, physical, or earth sciences. At least 15 of these semester hours must have been in the areas specified in A above, plus appropriate experience or additional education.
Degree: biology, or a related field of science underlying ecological research that included at least 30 semester hours in basic and applied biological sciences. These hours must have included at least 9 semester hours in ecology, and 12 semester hours in physical and mathematical sciences.
Degree: genetics; or one of the basic biological sciences that included at least 9 semester hours in genetics.
Graduate Education: Genetics, or a curriculum or pattern of training that placed major emphasis on genetics. Graduate study in related fields such as agronomy, horticulture, animal, dairy, or poultry husbandry, entomology, microbiology, plant pathology, chemistry, molecular and cellular biology, and physiology that involved cross-training in genetics is qualifying, provided it placed sufficient emphasis on genetics.
Evaluation of Education: Most students in the field take graduate work because specific training in genetics may be limited at the undergraduate level. Under these circumstances, it may be necessary to evaluate undergraduate course work in genetics in one of two ways, as described below, to determine whether or not it is qualifying.
- Courses dealing with genetics, some phase of genetics, or specific techniques that are applied in genetics work are acceptable. This includes courses in genetics, plant or animal genetics, molecular and cellular biology, mathematics and statistics (as they apply to genetics), population dynamics, and certain techniques such as those dealing with irradiation.
- Course work consisting of an appropriate combination of basic courses in genetics and cytology or statistics are also acceptable.
In addition to meeting the basic requirements described above, applicants must also meet additional qualification requirements as stated below.
At The GS-12: Applicants must demonstrate at least one full year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the GS-11 grade level in the Federal service or possess a Ph.D. or equivalent doctoral degree or possess an equivalent combination of graduate level education and experience. Graduate education must be directly related to the work of the position and must have equipped applicants with the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to do the work.
Specialized experience is experience directly related to the position to be filled. The specialized experience requirements for the GS-12 level of this position are:
Experience conducting independent research related to soil; and publishing independent research results in peer-reviewed journals related to soil.
At The GS-13: Applicants must demonstrate at least one full year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the GS-12 grade level in the Federal service. Specialized experience is experience directly related to the position to be filled. The specialized experience requirements for the GS-13 level of this position are:
Experience leading, coordinating and conducting research related to soil; and primary authorship of peer-reviewed journals related soil; and working with internal and external stakeholders.
Experience refers to paid and unpaid experience, including volunteer work done through National Service programs (e.g., Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) and other organizations (e.g., professional; philanthropic; religious; spiritual; community, student, social). Volunteer work helps build critical competencies and can provide valuable training and experience that translates directly to paid employment. You will receive credit for all qualifying experience, including volunteer experience.
To further support your qualifications, it is strongly recommended that you submit a one-page abstract of your MS thesis and/or Ph.D. dissertation. Failure to do so could result in loss of your consideration/referral. Also, please 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.
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.
Please see above for education qualification requirement information.
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.
CONFIDENTIAL FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE REPORT: 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.
Career Transition Assistance Plan (CTAP), Reemployment Priority List (RPL), or Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan (ICTAP): Visit the OPM website for information on how to apply as a CTAP, RPL, or ICTAP eligible. To exercise selection priority for this vacancy, CTAP/RPL/ICTAP candidates must meet the basic eligibility requirements and all selective factors. CTAP/ICTAP candidates must be rated and determined to be well qualified (or above) based on an evaluation of the competencies listed in the How You Will Be Evaluated section. When assessed through a score-based category rating method, CTAP/ICTAP applicants must receive a rating of at least 71 out of a possible 100.
This is an interdisciplinary position and may be filled in any of the job series/position titles listed. In addition to the specialized experience requirements, applicants must submit proof that they meet the educational requirements for at least one of the series described in the announcement. Applicants may only be appointed to the job series/ position titles for which they meet all experience and educational requirements.
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.
Recruitment or Relocation Incentive may be authorized. Final determination to pay an incentive will be made by the hiring official at time of job offer.
How You Will Be Evaluated
You will be evaluated for this job based on how well you meet the qualifications above.
You will be evaluated in accordance with the category rating procedure as defined in the USDA Demonstration Project Plan. Applicants who meet the basic minimum qualification requirements established for the position will be placed in the Eligible category. Eligible applicants will be further evaluated against criteria for placement in the Quality category. This evaluation is based on the level of your experience, education, and/or training as determined by your responses to the Assessment Questionnaire. Applicants with veterans’ preference are listed ahead of applicants who do not have veterans’ preference within each category.
Note: If, after reviewing your resume and/or supporting documentation, a determination is made that you have inflated your qualifications and or experience, your score may be adjusted to more accurately reflect your abilities, or you may be found ineligible. Please follow all instructions carefully. Errors or omissions may affect your rating. Providing inaccurate information on Federal documents could be grounds for non-selection or disciplinary action up to including removal from the Federal service.
Clicking the link below will present a preview of the application form; i.e. the online questionnaire. The application form link below will only provide a preview and does not initiate the application process. To initiate the online application process, click the “Apply” button to the right.
To view the application form, visit: https://apply.usastaffing.gov/ViewQuestionnaire/10996355
Background checks and security clearance
Drug test required
Position sensitivity and risk
Non-sensitive (NS)/Low Risk
Trust determination process
The following documents are required for your applicant package to be complete. Our office cannot be responsible for incompatible software, your system failure, etc. Encrypted documents will not be accepted. Failure to submit required, legible documents may result in loss of consideration.
- Resume that includes:1) personal information such as name, address, contact information; 2) education; 3) detailed work experience related to this position as described in the major duties including work schedule, hours worked per week, dates of employment; title, series, grade (if applicable); 4) other qualifications.
- If education is required or you are using education to qualify, you must submit a copy of your college transcripts. An unofficial copy is sufficient with the application if it includes your name and the necessary course information; however, if you are selected, you will be required to submit official transcripts prior to entering on duty. Education must have been successfully obtained from an accredited school, college or university. If any education was completed at a foreign institute, you must submit with your application evidence that the institute was appropriately accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as equivalent to U.S. education standards. There are private organizations that specialize in this evaluation and a fee is normally associated with this service. For a list of private organizations that evaluate education, visit the NACES website. All transcripts must be in English or include an English translation.
- If claiming veteran’s preference, you must submit a DD214, Certificate of Release from Active Duty, which shows dates of service and discharge under honorable conditions.If currently on active duty you must submit a certification of expected discharge or release from active duty service under honorable conditions not later than 120 days after the date the certification is submitted.Veteran’s preference must be verified prior to appointment.Without this documentation, you will not receive veteran’s preference and your application will be evaluated based on the material(s) submitted.
- If claiming 10-point veteran’s preference you must provide the DD214 or certification requirements (see above bullet), plus the proof of entitlement of this preference as listed on the SF-15 Application for 10-point Veterans’ Preference. The SF-15 should be included but is not required. Failure to submit these documents could result in the determination that there is insufficient documentation to support your claim for 10-point preference. For more information on veterans’ preference visit FEDSHIREVETS
- Surplus or displaced employees eligible for CTAP, RPL, or ICTAP priority must provide: proof of eligibility (RIF separation notice, notice of proposed removal for declining a transfer of function or directed reassignment to another commuting area, notice of disability annuity termination), SF-50 documenting separation (as applicable), and your most recent SF-50 noting position, grade level, and duty location with your application per 5 CFR 330.