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Senior Research Associate – Invasive Plant Treatment with U.S. Geological Survey in Vicksburg, MS

Type of position Student Service Contractor
Employer U.S. Geological Survey
Location Vicksburg, MS
Description of Location U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineering Research and Development Center
Salary $35.64 per hour
Closing date of competition March 3, 2023
Date position available May 8, 2023
Description of duties

Duration of position:  This is a contract position that will begin as early as May 8th, 2023. The intended duration is one year (May 8th, 2023 – May 7th, 2024) with possible extension dependent on funding.

Project:  Developing innovative RNAi-based treatments targeting invasive Phragmites during drought, floods, and other climate-induced stresses

Position Description: The student contractor will serve as a Research Associate supporting the ongoing development of innovative RNAi-based biotechnologies and other novel methods to design, test, refine and apply gene silencing agents to mitigate the invasive Phragmites australis during drought, floods, and other climate-induced stresses (e.g., increased environmental temperature). The contractor will be based primarily at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) in Vicksburg, MS and play a critical support role for the collaborative USGS-US Army ERDC research by assisting with a variety of duties that include, but are not limited to:

  • Conducting a literature review to establish a baseline understanding of how Phragmites and other invasive plant species respond during periods of drought, flooding, and other climate stresses.
  • Collaborating with a multidisciplinary, multi-institution research consortium team spanning genetics, genomics, bioengineering, plant pathology, molecular biology, bioinformatics, nanotechnology, chemistry, and ecology.
  • Performing benchtop and greenhouse studies to test multiple classes of gene silencing agents (GSAs) individually or in combinations for their efficacy in inhibition of target genes and desired phenotypic changes.
  • Evaluating and optimizing the composition, dosage and application methods of GSAs as a bioherbicide for controlling the invasive australis in response to climate-induced stresses.
  • Assisting the research team in permit application and field studies to assess the select candidate formula and application frequency of GSA-based bioherbicide.
  • Collecting experimental data, giving oral presentations, and preparing technical reports and peer-reviewed publications

The application deadline is COB March 3rd, 2023. To ensure consideration of your application, please send a cover letter, resume or CV, and a list of three professional references to Spenser Widin, [email protected]“>[email protected]       

Qualifications sought

Education/Experience Requirements: The successful candidate must be currently enrolled as a student or must have received a degree within one year prior to beginning the contract. The candidate must have a Master’s degree in molecular biology, bioengineering, genetic engineering, genomics, plant virology or a related field, and an ideal candidate will have:

  • A valid U.S. driver’s license
  • Hands-on experience with molecular cloning, DNA sequencing, quantitative RT-PCR, RNA interference (RNAi)-based gene knockdown, bioinformatics, virus-induced gene silencing is preferred, but not required
  • Great attention to detail, a desire to learn, and the ability to work in an efficient and self-directed manner
  • High motivation with the ability to multi-task and work collaboratively in a team setting


Contact for additional information Spenser Widin; [email protected]
Application procedure  
Submit what Resume, cover letter, 3 professional references
Submit to Spenser Widin ; [email protected]
Additional Information Other Details: This contract covers a 52-week period with an anticipated start date of May 8th, 2023. The student contractor cannot receive holiday pay, annual leave, or health care benefits, nor can they receive overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 80 within a two-week period. However, hours in excess of the established 80 per two weeks will be paid at the regular hourly rate. The student will report to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineering Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, MS for all duties, unless otherwise specified. Office work will occur in an office equipped with a computer workstation. Moving expenses will not be paid. Lodging will only be provided when in travel status. 

The successful candidate will be hired as an independent contractor. This is not a government position, and time does not count toward time-in-service.