Science Writer Postgraduate Opportunity

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

A complete application consists of:

  • An application
  • Cover Letter
  • A current resume/CV
  • Three references
  • Writing Samples
  • Transcripts – 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. Selected candidate may be required to provide proof of completion of the degree before the appointment can start. Proof must be sent to ORISE directly from the academic institution including graduation date and degree awarded.

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.


A postgraduate appointment is immediately available in the Research & Development (R&D) arm of the Forest Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and is located in Washington, D.C.  R&D is the largest conservation research organization in the world.  Basic and applied research conducted by R&D supports science-based planning for forests and grasslands throughout the U.S.

R&D communicates its research at varied levels of complexity to the scientific community, government agencies, land owners, Congress and other policymakers, the public and other stakeholder groups.  It does so via many tools, including articles, blogs, press releases, an electronic newsletter, marketing materials, fact sheets slide shows, videos, and other materials posted on its high-traffic website and social media sites, briefing materials distributed to Congress, articles produced for online publications and other traditional and new media.

The participant will serve as a member of a team that works to improve and expand R&D’s high-quality science outreach materials.  Specifically, the participant will assist:

  • Subject matter experts to create/update and post web content describing R&D research
  • With writing and proofreading reports, fact sheets, blogs, briefing materials, social media and other materials—translating scientific information into concise, reader-friendly language
  • In enlivening technical information into engaging text
  • In design layout of online and hard copy documents
  • With suggestions on new outreach strategies
  • As a liaison to R&D’s field stations, the Forest Service’s Office of Communications and other internal and external organizations on various outreach strategies
  • With generating marketing and outreach materials for conferences, Capitol Hill visits and meetings
  • In attendance of meetings aimed at disseminating information and making decisions

This appointment will provide an opportunity to:

  • Learn about cutting-edge natural resource research and related national policies
  • Help integrate information obtained from research stations located throughout the U.S.
  • Produce materials that will be posted on R&D's high-traffic website
  • Gain first-hand knowledge of national communication strategies
  • Understand and contribute to the intersection of science and policy
  • Explore options for future graduate research
  • Generate professional contacts and experience in the natural resources field

The appointment may also provide opportunities for training as well as travel to field stations and conferences.

Appointment Location

Washington, D.C.

Participant Benefits

Research opportunities are typically full-time for one year and may be extended for up to four additional years upon recommendation of the Forest Service and are contingent on the availability of programmatic funds. The stipend rates range from $40,000 to $55,000 and are determined by Forest Service officials based on the participant’s academic and professional background. A stipend supplement may be provided to cover 75% of the cost of an individual health insurance plan. This position may offer opportunities for paid professional travel.

Nature of the Appointment

Participants will not enter into an employee/employer relationship with ORISE, ORAU, USDA, or any other office or agency. Instead, the participant will be affiliated with ORISE for the administration of the appointment through the ORISE appointment letter and Terms of Appointment.

ORAU will not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, mental or physical disability, covered veteran’s status, or genetic information.


The desired candidate should have:

  • An advanced degree in journalism or natural sciences (ecology, biology, environmental science, forestry, etc.)
  • Layout/design skills
  • Skill in producing reader-friendly hard copy and web content on natural resources issues
  • An ability to serve as a web master 

Applicants with degrees in other fields will be considered if they have have demonstrated strong skills in writing, layout/design and web mastery.

Strongly desired skills include:

  • Strong writing and verbal skills, including skill in presenting complex information in an easy-to-understand and compelling style, and strong proofreading skills
  • Ability to creatively synthesize information from varied sources
  • Expertise in website design/content management and graphics software, especially Adobe Suite software
  • A collegial and collaborative working style and an ability to take direction from senior-level managers 
  • An ability to take the initiative, work in a fast-paced environment and meet deadlines 
Eligibility Requirements
  • Citizenship: LPR or U.S. Citizen
  • Degree: Bachelor's Degree, Master's Degree, or Doctoral Degree.
  • Discipline(s):
    • Communications and Graphics Design (6 )
    • Earth and Geosciences (20 )
    • Environmental and Marine Sciences (15 )
    • Life Health and Medical Sciences (46 )