USDA-ARS Postdoctoral Fellowship in Aquatic Ecology

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
  • A copy of an abstract or reprint of an article

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

Application Deadline
5/24/2024 11:59:00 PM Eastern Time Zone

*Applications are reviewed on a rolling-basis.

ARS Office/Lab and Location:  A postdoctoral research opportunity is currently available with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), National Sedimentation Laboratory, Water Quality & Ecology Research Unit located in Oxford, Mississippi.

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.

Research Project: The research project will build on previous projects to help address challenges and management solutions for ensuring long term sustainability of Lower Mississippi River Basin (LMRB) agroecosystems. The participant's research will contribute to helping develop stressor-response relationships between legacy phosphorus and key measures of ecosystem structure and function in agricultural watersheds within the LMRB region. Results will support development of indicators or new approaches to monitoring the long-term response of stream ecosystems to changes in agricultural best management practices within alluvial plain landscapes. Under the guidance of a mentor, the participant will be involved in the following research activities:

  • Collaborate with USDA-ARS and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists to process previously collected sensor data from 25 streams and quantify spatial and temporal variability in stream dissolved oxygen dynamics and metabolism in relation to conditions among stream habitats.
  • Collaborate with USDA-ARS and USGS scientists to design and conduct new field and experimental studies that measure legacy phosphorus storage, overall nutrient dynamics and functional responses (stream metabolism, extracellular enzyme responses, nutrient uptake, etc.) across field sites and experimental mesocosms representing environmental gradients in MAP streams.
  • Collaborate with USDA-ARS and USGS scientists to explore stressor-response relationships between water quality and valued ecological attributes (measures of ecological structure, function, ecosystem services) among streams representing observed nutrient enrichment gradient within the MAP landscape that can be used for assessing change in water quality or ecosystem services in response to agricultural activities within the MAP region of Mississippi. 

Learning Objectives: 

  • The participant will gain valuable experience collaborating with scientists from multiple federal agencies to address applied ecological questions related to improving water quality within agricultural landscapes.
  • The participant will become proficient at integrating and interpreting results based on a wide variety of field, lab, and data analysis methods related to stream ecology.
  • The participant will gain valuable experience in the process of conducting scientific research, synthesizing data, and publishing the results in peer reviewed journal articles.

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

Anticipated Appointment Start Date: 2024. Start date is flexible with a preferred start date of June 2024.

Appointment Length: The appointment will initially be for two years, but may be renewed upon recommendation of ARS and is contingent on the availability of funds.

Level of Participation: The appointment is full time.

Participant Stipend: The participant will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience. The stipend rate is $70,000 yearly.

Citizenship Requirements: This opportunity is available to U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) only.

ORISE Information: 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 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 have received a doctoral degree in one of the relevant fields.

Depending on the research project objectives, the selected candidate may need to operate a government owned vehicle (GOV) and will be required to show proof of a valid U.S. State Driver’s License and provide proof of an active U.S. auto insurance policy.

Some combination of the following skill sets are preferred:

  • Analyzing complex datasets with a variety of statistical approaches using R Programming Language and Geographic Information Systems
  • Collecting biological, habitat, and physico-chemical data from stream habitats
  • Planning, execution, and maintenance of data streams using a variety of high frequency sensors (dissolved oxygen, PAR, stage, nitrate, etc) in stream habitats for metabolism measures
  • Phosphorus extractions from sediments
  • Planning and execution of tracer studies
  • Operation of four-wheel drive vehicles
Eligibility Requirements
  • Citizenship: LPR or U.S. Citizen
  • Degree: Doctoral Degree.
  • Academic Level(s): Graduate Students or Postdoctoral.
  • Discipline(s):
    • Chemistry and Materials Sciences (2 )
    • Earth and Geosciences (2 )
    • Engineering (3 )
    • Environmental and Marine Sciences (12 )
    • Life Health and Medical Sciences (17 )

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