Job Description

Job Summary

Find Solutions to Agricultural Problems that Affect Americans Every Day, From Field to Table.

This position is located within the National Sedimentation Laboratory, Water Quality and Ecology Research Unit (WQERU) in Oxford, Mississippi  The broad research objectives of the WQERU are to develop basic and applied science for protecting and enhancing water resources and long-term agroecosystem function within watersheds affected by agricultural activities. Project strategies involve the entire watershed system from contributing areas to receiving water bodies. This position contributes to the United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service National Program 211, Water Availability and Watershed Management

This position requires the selectee to undergo a pre-employment check and a full background investigation. Any offer made is considered a tentative job offer pending the outcome of the pre-employment check. Retention in the position is based upon a favorable adjudication of the background investigation. The incumbent will be subject to periodic reinvestigations.
Research scientists have open-ended promotion potential. Research accomplishments and their impact on the duties and responsibilities of positions are evaluated periodically. The grade level is limited only by the individual's demonstrated ability to perform research of recognized importance to science and technology. *Final grade level may be determined by a peer review panel.


Major Duties:

As a research scientist, the incumbent has full responsibility for initiating, developing and managing independent research projects addressing agricultural impacts on freshwater (e.g. lakes, streams, reservoirs), wetland (freshwater), and terrestrial ecosystems. The incumbent will be part of an interdisciplinary team within the WQERU to critically assess these issues. Incumbent also cooperates with scientists in other ARS research units and institutions, contributing skills in eco-hydrology (the interface between the biological sciences and hydrology). Ecosystem and hydrologic work is conducted at scales appropriate for ultimate application to management of fields, farms, and large watersheds. This research will be combined with additional regional data to extrapolate findings to larger river basins. Primary focus will be on systems typical of the Lower Mississippi River Basin, but broader applicability is desirable.
The incumbent identifies needed areas of research, and designs and conducts the appropriate studies to assess the impacts of agricultural management on hydrologic components of ecosystems. This information is vital to agencies, organizations, and individuals involved in planning and implementing source water protection, conservation effects assessment, ecosystem restoration, and regulatory programs at local, state, national, and international levels.

Travel Required

  • Occasional Travel
  • Occasional travel will be required in order to complete the required tasks of this position.

Relocation Authorized

  • Yes
  • Relocation Expenses may be authorized for the selected incumbent.

Additional Information

What To Expect Next

Your application will be reviewed to verify that you meet the eligibility and qualification requirements for the position prior to issuing referral lists to the selecting official. If further evaluation or interviews are required, you will be contacted. Log in to your USAJOBS account at to check your application status. We expect to make a final job offer approximately 40 days after the deadline for applications.


The Federal Service offers a comprehensive benefits package. Explore the benefits offered to most Federal employees at:

Other Information

  • Career Transition Assistance Plan (CTAP), Reemployment Priority List (RPL), or Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan (ICTAP): For information on how to apply as a CTAP, RPL, or ICTAP eligible see To be well-qualified and exercise selection priority for this vacancy, surplus or displaced Federal employee must meet the basic eligibility requirements and all selective factors, and be rated in the Quality Category as described in the How You Will Be Evaluated section.
  • If you make a false statement in any part of your application, you may not be hired; may be fired after beginning work; or may be fined or jailed.
  • This position is eligible for telework and other flexible work arrangements. Employee participation is at the discretion of the supervisor.
  • E-Verify: Federal law requires agencies to use the E-Verify system to confirm the employment eligibility of all new hires. If you are selected as a newly hired employee, the documentation you present for purposes of completing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Form 1-9 on your entry-on-duty date will be verified through the DHS E-VERIFY system. Under the system, the new hire is required to resolve any identified discrepancies as a condition of continued employment.
  • BACKGROUND INVESTIGATION AND FINGERPRINT CHECK:  Selection and retention in this position is contingent on a successfully adjudicated FBI National Criminal History Check (fingerprint check) and a background investigation.

How to Apply

Please read the entire announcement and all instructions before you begin. You must complete this application process and submit all required documents electronically by Monday September 19, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time (ET).

Applying online is highly encouraged. We are available to assist you during business hours (normally 8:00a.m. - 4:00p.m., Monday - Friday). If applying online poses a hardship, contact the Agency Contact listed below well before the closing date for an alternate method. All hardship application packages must be complete and submitted no later than noon ET on the closing date of the announcement in order to be entered into the system prior to its closing.

This agency provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities on a case-by-case basis; contact the Agency Contact to request this.

To begin, click "Apply Online" and follow the instructions to complete the Assessment Questionnaire and attach your resume and all required documents.

NOTE: You must verify that uploaded documents from USAJOBS transfer into the Agency's staffing system. Applicants may combine all like required documents (e.g., all SF-50s) into one or more files and scan for uploading into the application. Each file must not exceed 3MB. Grouping like documents into files will simplify the application process. Documents must be in one of the following formats: GIF, JPEG, JPG, PDF, PNG, RTF, or Word (DOC or DOCX). Uploaded documents may not require a password, digital signature, or other encryption to open.

How You Will Be Evaluated

You will be evaluated in accordance with the category rating procedure as defined in the USDA Demonstration Project Plan. Applicants who meet the basic minimum qualification requirements established for the position will be placed in the Eligible category. Eligible applicants will be further evaluated against criteria for placement in the Quality category. This evaluation is based on the level of your experience, education, and/or training as determined by your responses to the Assessment Questionnaire. Applicants with veterans' preference are listed ahead of applicants who do not have veterans' preference within each category.

You will be evaluated based on your qualifications for this position as evidenced by the education, experience, and training you described in your application package, as well as the responses to the Occupational Questionnaire to determine the degree to which you possess the knowledge, skills, abilities and competencies listed below:

  • Technical Competence (Hydrology)
  • Research
  • Planning and Evaluating
  • Data Management and Development

Note: If, after reviewing your resume and/or supporting documentation, a determination is made that you have inflated your qualifications and or experience, your rating may be lowered to more accurately reflect the submitted documentation. Please follow all instructions carefully. Errors or omissions may affect your rating. Providing inaccurate information on Federal documents could be grounds for non-selection or disciplinary action up to including removal from the Federal service.
Clicking the link below will present a preview of the application form; i.e. the online questionnaire. The application form link below will only provide a preview and does not initiate the application process. To initiate the online application process, click the "Apply Online" button to the right.

To view the application form, visit:

Required Documents

  • Resume clearly describing your experience related to this position as described in the Major Duties, and Qualifications sections of this announcement.
  • You must submit a one-page abstract of your MS thesis and/or Ph.D. dissertation. Also, submit a list of names, addresses, and phone numbers of persons familiar with your stature, contributions, recognition; any honors or awards received; memberships in professional or honor societies; invitations to make presentations at scientific/technical meetings; scientific society office and committee assignments; presentations (other than invitation); and publications.
  • If you are a veteran and you are claiming veterans’ preference, you must submit a DD214, Certificate of Release from Active Duty, which shows dates of service and discharge under honorable conditions. For competitive service positions, active duty service members expecting to be discharged or released from active duty service in the armed forces under honorable conditions within 120 days: you may be granted tentative preference by submitting a “certification” document in lieu of a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, DD-214. This “certification” is any written document from the armed forces that certifies the service member is expected to be discharged or released from active duty service under honorable conditions not later than 120 days after the date of the submission of the certification. Veterans’ preference must be verified prior to appointment. Without this documentation, you will not receive veterans’ preference and your application will be evaluated based on the material(s) submitted.
  • If you are claiming 10-point veterans’ preference based on service-connected disability, in addition to the DD214 or certification requirements (see above bullet), you must also submit an SF-15, Application for 10-point Veterans’ Preference, plus the proof of entitlement of this preference which is normally an official statement, dated 1991 or later, from the Department of Veterans Affairs certifying to the present existence of the service-connected disability and indicating the percentage of your disability. For more information on veterans’ preference see
  • You must submit a copy of your college transcripts. You must submit with your application evidence that any education completed in a foreign institution was appropriately accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education as equivalent to U.S. education standards. For additional information, refer to the U.S. Department of Education web site at You may submit an unofficial copy of the transcripts; however, if you are selected, you will be required to submit official transcripts prior to entering on duty. All transcripts must be in English or include an English translation.
  • Surplus or displaced employees eligible for CTAP, RPL, or ICTAP priority must provide: proof of eligibility (RIF separation notice, notice of proposed removal for declining a transfer of function or directed reassignment to another commuting area, notice of disability annuity termination), SF-50 documenting separation (as applicable), and your most recent SF-50 noting position, grade level, and duty location with your application.
NOTE: If a document is resubmitted, it replaces the previous submission, which means the previous document is no longer available to the Human Resources Office. If you are adding to, rather than replacing a previous submission, you must upload both the old document and the new document. Please verify that documents you are uploading from USAJOBs transfer into the Agency's staffing system as there is a limitation to the number of documents that can be transferred. However, once in the Agency's staffing system, you will have the opportunity to upload additional documents. Uploaded resumes must be less than 3MB and in one of the following document formats: GIF, JPG, JPEG, PNG, RTF, PDF, or Word (DOC or DOCX).