Postgraduate Research Opportunity in Data Analysis

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Reference Code
How to Apply

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A complete application consists of:

  • An application
  • Transcript(s) – For this opportunity, an unofficial transcript or copy of the student academic records printed by the applicant or by academic advisors from internal institution systems may be submitted. All transcripts must be in English or include an official English translation. Click here for detailed information about acceptable transcripts.
  • A current resume/CV, including academic history, employment history, relevant experiences, and publication list
  • Two educational or professional recommendations

All documents must be in English or include an official English translation.

If you have questions, send an email to  Please include the reference code for this opportunity in your email.

Application Deadline
8/26/2020 3:00:00 PM Eastern Time Zone

*Applications will be reviewed on a rolling-basis.

A research opportunity is available with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) located in Ames, Iowa.

The National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) supports U.S. animal agriculture by developing and increasing the capabilities and capacities of a national veterinary diagnostic laboratory network to support early detection, rapid response, and appropriate recovery from high-consequence animal diseases. It is a nationally coordinated network and partnership of Federal, State, and university-associated animal health laboratories. NAHLN veterinary diagnostic laboratories provide animal health diagnostic testing to detect biological threats to the nation’s food animals, thus protecting animal health, public health, and the nation's food supply. They provide the capability to diagnose both endemic and foreign high-consequence livestock pathogens in animals and environmental samples and are likely to be the first-line laboratories for recognition of an intentionally or accidentally introduced agent in animals.

The selected participant will participate in data analysis associated with electronic messaging of animal disease test results provided in the human laboratory 7 (HL7) standard format, by laboratories of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN). This messaging format is used by many human health laboratories as well. Review of data from the NAHLN laboratories is required to ensure consistency and quality of the data received into the central NAHLN Laboratory Messaging Services (LMS) database, as LMS interfaces with multiple other VS databases, such as the Emergency Management Response System (EMRS) and VSLS. The participant will evaluate raw data received into the LMS test environment and provide feedback to submitting laboratories on the quality of that data, based on set standards. After evaluation of the raw data and determination of any specific problems, interaction with the submitting laboratory may be necessary to address the issues before approval is given to submit data into the production environment of the LMS database. The participant will also be evaluating electronic messaging data within the production environment of the LMS database for quality assurance. The participant will learn the HL7 standard language as it applies to veterinary medicine, and how it can be used to provide consistent data entry across many different submitting laboratories using different laboratory information management systems (LIMS). Assessing the current processes and developing streamlined approaches for database quality management is another goal of the participant’s activities. The participant will have the opportunity to collaborate with individuals representing information technology (IT) in many of the NAHLN laboratories and be exposed to many different LIMS. This will ensure a wide range of experience in electronic data management used by diagnostic laboratories.

Anticipated Appointment Start Date: August 3, 2020 (flexible)

This program, administered by ORAU through its contract with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to manage the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), was established through an interagency agreement between DOE and APHIS. The initial appointment is for one year, but may be renewed upon recommendation of APHIS and is contingent on the availability of funds. The participant will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience. The annual stipend rate for this opportunity will be determined upon selection and will range between $50,000 and $60,000. Relocation expenses are not available. Proof of health insurance is required for participation in this program. Candidates will be eligible to receive a health insurance allowance. Health insurance can be obtained through ORISE. The appointment is full-time at APHIS in the Ames, Iowa, area. Participants do not become employees of USDA, APHIS, DOE or the program administrator, and there are no employment-related benefits.

This is an equal opportunity program open to all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, age, sex, religion, national origin, mental or physical disability, genetic information, sexual orientation, or covered veteran’s status. 

This opportunity is available to U.S. citizens only.


The qualified candidate should have received a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree in one of the relevant fields.

Preferred skills:

  • Proficiency in using basic word processing and data management software
  • Proficiency in technical writing, oral communication, interpersonal and organization skills, as well as critical thinking skills
  • Ability to communicate effectively in both oral presentations and writing used to make presentations that include seminars and training
  • Demonstrate flexibility and self-motivation to complete activities
  • Eagerness to learn from peers and to collaborate in a team environment
  • Knowledge of data sets, data quality and data analysis in order to integrate accurate data sets with complementary national data sources and support analysis needs of the program
  • Knowledge of diagnostic laboratory practices and work flow including general process of receiving samples, testing and reporting results
Eligibility Requirements
  • Citizenship: U.S. Citizen Only
  • Degree: Bachelor's Degree, Master's Degree, or Doctoral Degree.
  • Discipline(s):
    • Computer Sciences (4 )
    • Life Health and Medical Sciences (11 )