USDA-ARS NBAF Biosafety and Containment Fellowship

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. 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.

Application Deadline
4/5/2024 3:00:00 PM Eastern Time Zone

*Applications may be reviewed on a rolling-basis.

ARS Office/Lab and LocationA research opportunity is currently available with the Biorisk Management Unit (BRM) within the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS) located in Manhattan, Kansas.

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific in-house research agency with a mission to find solutions to agricultural problems that affect Americans every day from field to table. ARS will deliver cutting-edge, scientific tools and innovative solutions for American farmers, producers, industry, and communities to support the nourishment and well-being of all people; sustain our nation’s agroecosystems and natural resources; and ensure the economic competitiveness and excellence of our agriculture. The vision of the agency is to provide global leadership in agricultural discoveries through scientific excellence.

NBAF Overview

The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) will provide the United States (U.S.) with the capacity to conduct comprehensive research, develop vaccines, and provide enhanced diagnostic and training capabilities to protect against transboundary, emerging, and zoonotic animal diseases that threaten our nation's food supply, agricultural economy, and public health. 

NBAF is a federally owned and operated biocontainment facility designed to house Biosafety Level 2 (BSL-2) through Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) work, arthropod containment at BSL-2 (ACL-2) and BSL-3 (ACL-3), small animal containment at BSL-4 (ABSL-4), and large animal containment spaces (i.e., Animal Biosafety Level 3 Agriculture [ABSL-3Ag] and Animal Biosafety Level 4 Agriculture [ABSL-4Ag]). NBAF’s primary focus is protecting animal health for the U.S. agricultural industry. NBAF scientists will perform research, diagnostics, teaching, and training using various transboundary, emerging, and zoonotic animal diseases, including but not limited to Foot and Mouth Disease, African Swine Fever, and Classical Swine Fever.

Biorisk Management Unit

The BRM provides support services to NBAF training, research, science, and other operational units through integrating biosafety, biosecurity, and biorisk management programs into the teaching and research agenda of NBAF, with the goal of protecting NBAF employees, agriculture, environment, and community from accidental exposure, release, or misuse of biological materials. The BRM Unit provides biosafety, biosecurity, high containment, and select agent expertise to ensure compliance with all applicable regulations and Agency policies and procedures.

Research Project:  Under the guidance of a mentor, this appointment would support the start-up of research activities at NBAF, from BSL-2 to BSL-4 research. This project will involve assisting in the development of containment and space risk assessments, assisting in the development of guidance and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for biosafety and biosecurity practices in containment, assist with reviewing SOPs for proposed laboratory research and animal research activities, participates in laboratory and facility inspections helping to ensure all spaces, relevant equipment, and procedures meet biosafety and biocontainment requirements, and assisting in the development of policies, procedures, and protocols for the inactivation and movement of biological material to lower containment levels. 

Learning Objectives: Collaborating with the Biorisk Management Unit will allow the participant to learn multiple components related to the operation of a containment facility, from BSL1 – BSL4 operations. The participant will learn and experience procedures for biosafety practices for both laboratory and animal research, how to conduct biosafety risk assessments, learn about Select Agent regulations and regulatory requirements for containment laboratory operations, containment facility operations, inventory management, and will learn decontamination and inactivation strategies including validations for autoclaves, thermal tissue autoclaves, and effluent decontamination systems. This will give the participant the knowledge about how high containment facilities operate and a strong background and understanding in the biosafety, biosecurity, and select agent requirements to run these labs.

Mentor(s)The mentor for this opportunity is Cheryl Doerr ( If you have questions about the nature of the research, please contact the mentor(s).

Anticipated Appointment Start Date: As soon as a qualified candidate is identified.  Start date is flexible and will depend on a variety of factors.

Appointment LengthThe appointment will initially be for one year, but may be renewed upon recommendation of ARS and is contingent on the availability of funds. 

Level of ParticipationThe appointment is full-time.

Participant StipendThe participant will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience. The current yearly stipend for this opportunity is either $51,406.20 - $54,832.50 (MS) or $68,414.40 - $70,487.10 (Ph.D.) plus a health insurance supplement.

Citizenship RequirementsThis opportunity is available to U.S. citizens only.

ORISE InformationThis 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 ARS. Participants do not become employees of USDA, ARS, DOE or the program administrator, and there are no employment-related benefits. Proof of health insurance is required for participation in this program. Health insurance can be obtained through ORISE.

Questions: Please visit our Program Website. After reading, if you have additional questions about the application process, please email and include the reference code for this opportunity.


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

Eligibility Requirements
  • Citizenship: U.S. Citizen Only
  • Degree: Master's Degree or Doctoral Degree.
  • Discipline(s):
    • Life Health and Medical Sciences (48 )
    • Social and Behavioral Sciences (3 )