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USDA-ARS Postdoctoral Fellowship in Fungal-plant Interactions

ARS Office/Lab and LocationA postdoctoral research opportunity is currently available with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in the Mycotoxin Prevention and Applied Microbiology (MPM) Research Unit, National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR), located in Peoria, Illinois. 

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 candidate will conduct research to understand the molecular mechanisms involved during Fusarium and plant (wheat and barley) interactions and identify novel targets to reduce Fusarium head blight and mycotoxin contamination. 

Learning Objectives: The project objectives include:

  • Identify and functionally characterize virulence genes that are essential for Fusarium graminearum infection;
  • Optimize and evaluate the potential use of a microbial endophyte as an RNAi delivery system to control FHB and mycotoxin contamination. MPM scientists conduct research in genetics, microbiology, chemistry and plant pathology to produce information and technologies to enhance food safety and crop production in the U.S. and around the world.

The incumbent will have opportunities to collaborate with a diverse group of scientists. During the appointment, there will be occasional travel to professional meetings.

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

Anticipated Appointment Start Date: December 1, 2022.  Start date is flexible and will depend on a variety of factors.

Appointment LengthThe 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 ParticipationThe appointment is full-time.

Participant StipendThe participant will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience.

Citizenship RequirementsThis opportunity is available to U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR).

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 have received a doctoral degree in one of the relevant fields, or be currently pursuing the degree with completion before December 1, 2022. 

Preferred skills:

  • Demonstrated proficiency in molecular work such as effector characterization, and cutting-edge techniques such as RNAi and CRISPR. 
  • Excellent interpersonal communication skills, ability to communicate effectively in English, and ability to work independently and in a team environment.