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USDA-ARS Postdoctoral Fellowship in Fish Functional Genomics

ARS Office/Lab and LocationA postdoctoral research opportunity is currently available with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Aquatic Animal Health Research Unit (AAHRU) located in Auburn, Alabama.

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 utilize both laboratory and computational approaches to support fish-pathogen interaction dynamics and genomics research at the Aquatic Animal Health Research Unit (AAHRU).

Research objectives of the AAHRU include the development of rapid detection and diagnostics tests, novel therapeutants, and improved diet formulations that will enhance resistance to infectious bacteria, viruses, and parasites of warm water fish and shellfish. Researchers at AAHRU apply molecular, cellular, and computational approaches to determine pathogen and host factors that influence virulence and/or disease resistance.

Learning Objectives: Under the guidance of the mentor, the candidate will utilize a functional genomics approach to examine host-pathogen interactions in several aquaculture species. The successful applicant will integrate laboratory techniques with bioinformatics approaches, such as gene expression profiling, epigenomics, quantitative genomics, microbiome, and/or interactome analyses, to improve our understanding of relationships between genes, protein function, and disease phenotypes in warm water aquaculture species. The applicant will utilize genome-scale datasets from host-pathogen interaction studies along with high-performance computing resources to answer scientific questions. Research projects will focus on the characterization of genetic variation associated with disease phenotype, validating candidate loci responsible for quantitative and qualitative traits, and/or determining function of genes and proteins as regulators of physiological or immunological traits.

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

Anticipated Appointment Start Date: January 2023.  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, 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.

The qualified candidate should have received or be pursuing a doctoral degree with anticipated completion by December 31, 2022 in one of the relevant fields (e.g., Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, Genetics, Genomics).

Preference will be given to candidates with proficiency in analyzing genome-scale datasets.

Preferred skills:

  • Computational focus with field and laboratory experience
  • Experience in Linux and computational languages including R, and Perl or Python
  • Experience with working with genomics datasets
  • Knowledge of genetics, next-generation sequencing, genome assembly and annotation
  • Strong oral and written communication skills
  • Evidence of research productivity through a strong publication record