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Biological Science Technician

Company Department of Agriculture
Location Corvallis, OR
Update 10 Day ago
Find Solutions to Agricultural Problems that Affect Americans Every Day, From Field to Table.

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 Horticultural Crops Research Unit, located in Corvallis, Oregon of the Agricultural Research Services, United States Department of Agriculture, has an opening for a Biological Science Technician. The incumbent will assist the unit in its research program which focuses on soilborne pathogens of the ornamental nursery industry. The overall goal is to more fully understand pathogen biology, epidemiology, and ecology in order to develop and refine successful, non-chemical disease management strategies. Specifically, our objectives are to develop practices to manage soilborne diseases; quantify and qualify cultural, biological, and chemical practices on disease management and soil microbial populations; and investigate how environmental factors (both abiotic and biotic) affect disease control. This position will function as part of a team that characterizes soilborne plant pathogens affecting berry, forest nursery, and ornamental crops and develops disease control measures.

This is a term, time-limited appointment with an initial duration no less than 13 months and can be extended up to a total of 4 years.


Major Duties may include, but are not limited to:
The incumbent will be involved in a combination of laboratory and field-based work. Primary laboratory work includes isolation, quantification, identification, and maintenance of soilborne plant pathogens (fungi and oomycetes) from soil and plant samples using specialized media, Andersen samplers, cloning, PCR, quantitative PCR, and DNA sequencing (DNA extractions, gel electrophoresis, and DNA sequence analysis).

The incumbent will:
  • Conduct in vitro fungicide sensitivity assays.
  • Prepare pathogen inoculum and inoculates plant hosts with pathogens.
  • Install, maintain, and operate irrigation equipment and environmental data loggers to meet appropriate soil moisture targets and monitor environmental data.
  • Determine soil moisture holding capacity and calculate plant water requirements.
  • Monitor and collect data from greenhouse and field experiments.
  • Maintain and update database with experimental results, summarize and analyze data.
Some field work requires overnight travel (typically around 3 times a year) and the incumbent is expected to be able to lift heavy objects, such as potted plants, soil samples, and soil sampling and other heavy equipment, and be able to work, stoop, bend, kneel, and navigate rough outdoor terrain.

Supervisory Status


Promotion Potential


Travel Required

Occasional Travel

Occassional travel to and from field sites. Some field work requires overnight travel

Relocation Authorized


Who May Apply

This job is open to…

United States Citizens

Questions? This job is open to 1 group.

Job Requirements

Job Requirements

Key Requirements

Selective Service Registration is required for males born after 12/31/1959.

A 1-year probationary period is required.

You must be a US Citizen or US National.

Satisfactory background investigation and/or fingerprint check


At least one full-time year (12 months) of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-06 grade level in the Federal service. For this position, specialized experience is:

1) Experience assisting with isolating, identifying and characterizing soilborne pathogens and conducting research to develop disease control methods;

2) Experience in operating, calibrating, and modifying specialized laboratory and field equipment such as microscopes, autoclaves, centrifuges, incubators, laminar flow hoods, thermal cyclers, irrigation equipment, and environmental data loggers;

3) Experience utilizing basic and molecular biology laboratory techniques such as aseptic technique, PCR and qPCR, cloning, electrophoresis, preparation of samples for sequencing, and sequence analysis;

4) Experience with in vitro fungicide sensitivity testing; and

5) Experience collecting, analyzing, and summarizing data using spreadsheet, word processing, PowerPoint, and statistics software.

  • OR-
One full year (18 semester hours) of directly related progressively higher level graduate education leading to a masters or equivalent graduate degree. Related degrees include plant pathology, microbiology, horticulture, and molecular genetics. (Must submit transcripts)

  • OR-
Combination of Education and Experience:
Applicants must have an appropriate combination of successfully completed graduate education and experience. To determine your combination, first compute your experience as a percentage of the experience listed above; then determine your graduate education as a percentage of the education listed above; then add the two percentages. The total percentages must equal at least 100 percent. (Must submit transcripts)

In describing your experience, please be clear and specific. We may not make assumptions regarding your experience.

  • Selectee must be able to obtain and maintain a security clearance. If selected you may be subject to a National Agency Check and Inquiry (NACI) and a credit report inquiry.
Security Clearance

Not Applicable

Additional Information
Additional Information

What To Expect Next

Your application will be reviewed to verify that you meet the eligibility and qualification requirements for the position prior to issuing referral lists to the selecting official. If further evaluation or interviews are required, you will be contacted. Log in to your USAJOBS account at

to check your application status. We expect to make a final job offer approximately 40 days after the deadline for applications.


The Federal Government offers a comprehensive benefits package. Explore the major benefits offered to most Federal employees at:

Other Information

More than one selection may be made if another vacancy occurs within 90 days of the issuance of the certification of eligibles.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc) should contact: USDAs TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD).

Direct Deposit – Per Public Law 104-134 all Federal employees are required to have federal payments made by direct deposit to a financial institution of your choosing.

E-Verify: Federal law requires agencies to use the E-Verify system to confirm the employment eligibility of all new hires. If you are selected as a newly hired employee, the documentation you present for purposes of completing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Form 1-9 on your entry-on-duty date will be verified through the DHS E-VERIFY system. Under the system, the new hire is required to resolve any identified discrepancies as a condition of continued employment.

BACKGROUND INVESTIGATION AND FINGERPRINT CHECK: Selection and retention in this position is contingent on a successfully adjudicated FBI National Criminal History Check (fingerprint check) and a background investigation.

It is the policy of the Government not to deny employment simply because an individual has been unemployed or has had financial difficulties that have arisen through no fault of the individual. See more information at:

Career Transition Assistance Plan (CTAP), Reemployment Priority List (RPL) or Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan (ICTAP): For information on how to apply as a CTAP, RPL or ICTAP eligibility see

. 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 85 out of a possible 100.

This job originated on

. For the full announcement and to apply,

Only resumes submitted according to the instructions on the job announcement listed at

will be considered.