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USDA-APHIS Internship in Veterinary/Microbiology Laboratories

APHIS Office/Lab and LocationA research opportunity is currently available with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL), located in Ames, Iowa.

Research Project: The National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) is offering a yearlong internship to prepare individuals for a career as a biological sciences technician (BSLT) or in partial preparation for a microbiologist career in laboratory diagnostic medicine. The interns will follow a structured training program, rotating through several laboratories and sections at NVSL, receiving training in pathogen handling and testing in biological safety level (BSL) 3, and BSL 2 laboratories. Interns will learn and understand the specialized rules associated with select agents, the requirements and documentation needed to work in an ISO7025 accredited laboratory, as well as training in several diagnostic methods such as virus/bacterial isolation and identification, serological techniques, PCR, and sequencing. 

Learning ObjectivesThis year long internship is designed to provide a year’s worth of specialized experience necessary to qualify for biological sciences technician jobs in federal and state laboratories. In addition to the technical skills, the intern/fellow will have an opportunity to learn about zoonotic diseases, disease of high consequence to livestock, their impact on trade, surveillance programs, and molecular epidemiology.

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

Anticipated Appointment Start Date: October 2022.  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 APHIS 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. Selected candidates will receive a monthly stipend as support for their living and other expenses during this appointment of $35,000 per year.

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

Background Investigation Requirements: Adjudication of a Special Agency Check (SAC) is required before the selected candidate can start. Paperwork for this clearance will be sent to the selected candidate after acceptance of the official offer from ORAU.

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 APHIS. Participants do not become employees of USDA, APHIS, 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.

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.

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 an associate's degree in one of the relevant fields, or be currently pursuing the degree with college courses in Biotechnology, Microbiology, and/or Biology. 

Research is performed in a BSL-2/3 laboratory. Interacting with pathogenic agents mandates the use of biocontainment hoods and wearing personal protective gear, which is strenuous on the individual. 

Preference will be given to candidates with the following:

  • At least one year experience in a laboratory
  • Coursework in Biology with emphasis on Microbiological nomenclature 
  • Attention to detail
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Methodical and logical approach
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Good written and verbal communication skills
  • Understanding of biological concepts