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USDA-ARS Postdoctoral Associate Fellowship in Systems Approach

*Applications may be reviewed on a rolling-basis.

ARS Office/Lab and LocationA research opportunity is currently available with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Tropical Crop and Commodity Protection Research Unit located in Hilo, Hawaii.

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.

The mission of the Tropical Crop and Commodity Protection Research Unit is to develop pre- and postharvest technologies and management strategies for invasive pests, and to open and maintain market access and improved quality of tropical fruit, vegetable and ornamental crops grown in the Pacific Basin. 

Research Project: Throughout the course of this research project, the participant will conduct research to develop and implement effective systems approach programs to manage quarantine pests of fruit and ornamental crops in Hawaii. The main focus will be on developing systems approaches including postharvest fumigation treatments and/or combination treatments for invasive tropical fruit flies, ants, scale insects, mealybugs that are serious trade barriers of tropical fruits and ornamental crops and elucidating the mode of action of the developed treatments. Under the guidance of a mentor, specific activities will include establishing and rearing insect colonies, designing and conducting stand-alone fumigation (ethyl formate and phosphine) and combination treatments with cold or irradiation treatments, conducting quality evaluation trials, conducting mode of action studies, and assisting with preparing reports. 

Learning Objectives: This opportunity will provide the participant with exposure to cutting-edge techniques in postharvest treatments and quality evaluation techniques, providing the participant with excellent training in these areas. The participant will be encouraged to develop independent and collaborative research in the areas of postharvest and chemical ecology, publish research results, and promote technology transfer through conference attendance, presentations and Cooperative Research And Development Agreements with commercial companies.

MentorThe mentor for this opportunity is Dong Cha ( If you have questions about the nature of the research, please contact the mentor.

Anticipated Appointment Start Date: January 1, 2024.  Start date is flexible and will depend on a variety of factors.

Appointment LengthThe appointment will initially be for one year, but may be renewed upon recommendation of ARS and is contingent on the availability of funds.

Level of ParticipationThe appointment is full-time.

Participant Stipend: The 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 a doctoral degree in one of the relevant fields (e.g., Entomology, Microbiology, Chemistry, Biological Sciences, Agricultural Sciences), or be currently pursuing the degree to be received by start of appointment. 

Preferred Skills include:

  • Solid experience in mode of action studies
  • Experience with ethyl formate and phosphine fumigation
  • Solid experience in insect colony establishment and rearing
  • Experience with cold and irradiation treatment
  • Experience with postharvest quality evaluation
  • Experience in operating gas chromatography
  • Experience with preparing insect cohort samples
  • Understanding of insect olfactory system
  • Experience with molecular and genomic techniques
  • Fluency in spoken and written English, and excellent communication skills
  • Solid ability demonstrated to operate independently and enjoy collaborating in a group environment