Subject: Biological Science Technician Internship Available
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ)
Field Operations (FO)
Operations – Pest Management and Safety (OPMS)
Plant Germplasm Quarantine Program (PGQP)
Biological Science Technician
Master Record Number: 4PQ822
The Plant Germplasm Quarantine Program establishes and maintains foreign
Germplasm and cultivars under appropriate safeguarding conditions; conducts
tests for pests; implements therapy if necessary; and distributes released
plant propagules free of exotic and destructive pathogens. These activities
prevent the introduction of damaging foreign fungi, bacteria, phytoplasmas,
viruses, viroids, and undescribed infectious agents so that scientists and
industry can safely obtain valuable genes for the improvement of US
agriculture. The Plant Germplasm Quarantine Center is the only Federal plant
quarantine facility in the United States for the importation of certain
plants and plant propagules prohibited from commercial importation.
APHIS is an emergency response agency. This means that all Agency employees
may be asked or assigned to participate in rotating temporary duty
assignments away from their assigned duty station to support emergency
programs at some time during their careers with APHIS.
DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Performs standardized routines in support of various projects. Duties
involve standardized test procedures, routines or operations which require a
general knowledge of basic biological science and the ability to know when
and how to resolve problems encountered or to make adaptations in the
sequencing of the tasks performed.
Duties are performed by any combination of the following:
Assists in one or more phases of the scientific process by performing a
variety of standardized or routine duties, in a laboratory, field screenhouse
or greenhouse environment. These include collecting and weighing samples for
laboratory tests, grinding and transferring samples to collection tubes and
mixing reagents for a supervisor.
Performs routine and recurring techniques and studies using a variety of
specialized equipment such as weigh balances, autoclaves and printers deigned
to make plant labels.
Records instrument readings, collect samples and takes measurements such as
recording and modifying greenhouse and screenhouse temperature and
ventilation settings and controls.
Assists with the collection and shipment of plant Germplasm released from
quarantine. Tasks include carefully packaging one-of-a-kind plant material
and preparing computer labels.
Uses detailed records of experimental data. Tabulates and summarizes data
using personal computers and software packages. Entry of routine data into
electronic databases may be performed.
Maintains inventory of chemicals, prepares solutions and reagents for use in
the laboratory, field, screenhouses, or greenhouses, and safely disposes of
waste material (both chemical and biological).
Performs tasks in greenhouses, screenhouses, and orchards including planting
and transplanting woody and herbaceous plants, labeling plants and assisting
with inoculations designed to test for pathogens of quarantine significance.
On a rotational basis, participates in weekend and holiday duty as the sole
person on duty from the immediate staff. Duties include watering plant
materials in greenhouses and growth chambers, checking automated watering
systems, and checking heating and cooling systems.
1. Knowledge Required by the Position –
Knowledge of the basic principles of biological science, e.g., plant
pathology, plant physiology, entomology, biochemistry, microbiology,
genetics, etc. in order to perform routine or recurring techniques and
studies, record instrument reading, collect samples and take measurements.
Knowledge of processes, methods and procedures necessary to perform the full
range of duties on the assignment area.
Skill in the operation of basic equipment common to specific area of pathogen
detection being conducted to perform routine tests or take measurements and
Ability to keep exact and detailed records of data obtained from experiments.
Ability to operate a personal computer using word processing and/or other
Ability to recognize subtle variations in often repeated experiments.
Ability to schedule and independently carry out work assignments.
2. Supervisory Controls –
The incumbent works under the general supervision of the Laboratory Director
or a designee. The incumbent is given relatively clear instructions
concerning project objectives and methods to be employed. Proceeds with
assigned duties independently, subject to occasional checks of work in
progress. The supervisor or designee ensures that tasks completed, data
developed, the methods used in securing and verifying data and application of
guidelines are technically accurate and in compliance with instructions and
established procedures. The incumbent is expected to recognize and report
deviations in the expected progress of projects.
3. Guidelines –
Work assignments, procedures and some deadlines are pre-established and
updated periodically. The incumbent must use sound judgment in applying
these guidelines to the varying circumstances found in the day-to-day
operations of the program. The incumbent will notify the supervisor of
deviations from established operating procedures as they occur.
4. Complexity –
Assignments consist of performing a variety of routine procedural tasks or
one or more complex duties related to regular and recurring technical work,
operating a variety of pieces of equipment or one or more complex equipment
systems commonly associated with the work site, and performing a full variety
of standardized technical support and technical duties associated with the
Performance of the assignments requires making choices when expecting a
number of types of sequential, related steps or assembling several pieces of
equipment. The incumbent exercises independence in recognizing differences,
choosing the right course of action, and then selecting and executing the
proper task sequences for completing the work.
The incumbent deals with facts, i.e., spots readings which are outside the
normal range of tolerance or acceptability, or determines how best to present
raw data. The employee determines what needs to be done to update or
complete records and documents and initiates action to acquire needed
information from others as indicated by situations encountered in the work.
5. Scope and Effect –
Completed assignments constitute a complete segment of assignments with
broader scope, i.e. daily collects data for use by others involved in
Work products affect the accuracy, reliability, or acceptability of further
procedures, processes or services, i.e. the ability of others to complete
with accuracy a phase of a scientific process.
6. Personal Contacts –
Contacts are primarily with other employees on the Plant Germplasm Quarantine
Program staff. The incumbent will also establish contacts with other PPQ
personnel and with a variety of other Federal, state, and local government
stakeholders. The incumbent may also establish periodic contacts with
University personnel, private citizens and other stakeholders.
7. Purpose of Contacts –
Contacts are made to exchange information, to seek guidance in the
performance of assigned duties, and to maintain participation in cooperative
8. Physical Demands –
The work requires good dexterity of the hands and some moderate exertion,
including digging in soil and lifting of up to 40 pounds. The work may
require extended periods of standing or sitting, and recurring periods of
bending, crouching, and stooping, stretching or similar activities. Extended
walking and/or climbing to field locations may be required, often while
9. Work Environment –
The work involves regular and recurring moderate risks of discomfort which
require special safety precautions, i.e. working with contagious diseases or
irritant chemicals or working outdoors. The incumbent is required to use
protective clothing such as gowns, coats, boots, goggles and gloves.
The incumbent may work at times in a Bio-safety Level 3 agriculture facility
that will require changing clothes into work-suits. APHIS and state policy
requires changing clothing upon entry and showering prior to exit of the
facility. Working with toxic chemical agents is common in a laboratory
setting. The work may also require safe contact with pesticides.
This position is located at the Plant Germplasm Quarantine Program in Bldg
580, Beltsville, MD. The candidate must have its own transportation to get
to the facilities every day.
This position is opened from May 17, 2016 - until a suitable candidate is
Please send resumes to: [log in to unmask]
Event Date: May 17, 2016
Event Location: Beltsville, MD
Contact Person: Dr. M.L. Bateman
Contact Email: [log in to unmask]
Contact Phone Number: 301-313-9316