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*Applications may be reviewed on a rolling-basis, and this opportunity will remain open until filled.

ARS Office/Lab and LocationA research opportunity is currently available with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory (SASL) located in Beltsville, Maryland.

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 the agency is to provide global leadership in agricultural discoveries through scientific excellence.

Research Project: The selected participant will have the opportunity to refine their skills with hands on research, being involved in executing cover crop-based research experiments. The mission of our group is to address agronomic challenges (e.g., crop, pest and soils) while reducing tillage in cover crop-based field crop production systems. Emphasis will be placed on developing remote sensing applications and computer vision and machine learning technology for estimating cover crop performance. This opportunity requires some physical exertion, such as regular and recurring walking and or bending. In many situations, the duration of the activity (such as most of the day) contributes to the arduous nature of the research. In other situations; there may be special requirements for agility or dexterity such as exceptional hand/eye coordination. The research involves regular and recurring moderate risks or discomforts, which require special safety precautions, e.g. being outside in the sun and exposure to outside temperatures. The participant is required to use protective clothing, such as boots, goggles and gloves when conducting research in situations that present a safety hazard.

Learning ObjectivesUnder the guidance of a mentor, the participant will collaborate with scientists in a variety of activities including: field, greenhouse, and lab experiments. The participant will learn how cover crops are being used to benefit actual farmers and the environment through interactions with stakeholders throughout the Del- Marva region. This learning experience will follow the life cycle of cover and cash crops from planting to harvest.

Professional development opportunities are available for the participant to meet with farmers, attend scientific meetings, learn how to write and present research posters and/or talks to peers. Specifically the fellow will participate and learn about strategies for estimating cover crop performance with remote sensing and computer vision and machine learning technology.

Mentor(s)The mentor for this opportunity is Steven Mirsky ( 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 extended upon recommendation of ARS and is contingent on the availability of funds.

Level of ParticipationThe appointment is full-time.

Participant StipendThe participant will receive an annual stipend commensurate with educational level and experience.

Citizenship RequirementsThis opportunity is available to U.S. citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR), and foreign nationals. Non-U.S. citizen applicants should refer to the Guidelines for Non-U.S. Citizens Details page of the program website for information about the valid immigration statuses that are acceptable for program participation.

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 (USDA-ARS-2021-0247).