A detailed-oriented, responsible individual with a strong interest in wildlife disease and ecology is sought to assist with activities associated with Wildlife Epidemiology and Emerging Disease (WEED) Branch at the USGS-National Wildlife Health Center (Madison, Wisconsin). Primary duties will be devoted to assistance with a national surveillance program for the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), the causative agent of white-nose syndrome, which is responsible for unprecedented mortality in North American cave bats. Activities include: sample kit preparation, diagnostic sample processing, data entry into a long-term, national wildlife disease event database, data summary/reporting, workshop training preparation, and special projects. The USGS-National Wildlife Health Center is a federal wildlife diagnostic and research laboratory which serves federal, state, and tribal wildlife management agencies in all 50 states and US territories.
This is a 1-year student services contract position with an additional 1 year renewal option (pending academic eligibility and available funding); qualified applicants must have a BA/BS degree in a relevant field and either be currently enrolled in an academic program or have graduated within the past 12 months from the start date of the performance period.
Hours and Days: approx. 35-40 hours/week (Monday – Friday)
Knowledge and Skills Required:
• Strong organizational and communication (oral and written) skills
• Ability to complete routine tasks independently and accurately following established protocols within established deadlines
• Ability to manage time effectively among multiple tasks
• Experience working in a diagnostic or research laboratory
• Technical knowledge of basic molecular techniques (DNA extraction, standard and/or quantitative PCR, gel electrophoresis)
• BA/BS degree in Zoology, Biology, Ecology, Wildlife, Microbiology, Genetics, or suitable equivalent
• Proficiency with MS Word, Excel, Powerpoint (experience with MS Access and/or ArcGIS a plus)
Position assists with creating, updating and maintaining epizootic event information generated from submissions to the USGS-National Wildlife Health Center, wildlife mortality reports, news articles and wildlife disease list-serves. Duties include obtaining missing information from external partners to complete digital records as needed, performing database searches, and generating summary tables and graphs data for reports and presentations, assisting with workshop and fieldwork preparation, performing literature searches and summarizing information, notetaking at branch-related meetings. Assists WEED branch staff with special projects as assigned.
Duties specific to the national Pd surveillance project include: sample kit preparation and distribution; organization and maintenance of field equipment, including proper cleaning and decontamination; data entry into a unique database consisting of diagnostic case information generated from bat submissions to the USGS-NWHC; and generating summary tables and graphs for reports and presentations. Contractor also assists with the laboratory component of this project including DNA extraction, standard/quantitative PCR, fungal culture, and tissue collection. The potential exists for occasional fieldwork assistance (sample collection, proper storage and shipment of samples, catalogue of field samples, organization of field data forms) pending interests and abilities, however, fieldwork is not a primary component of this position. Student adheres to established standard operating procedures, Good Laboratory Practices Act, and all field safety regulations.
Level of Knowledge:
A. Technical Requirements
1. Specific Work Requirements
The Contractor reviews information in the NWHC EPIZOO database, contacts partners for incomplete data, and enters data accurately using an MS Access interface. He/She also conducts quality control of the database and provides summary tables of shared information to appropriate partners. The student is expected to adhere to appropriate NWHC guidelines, follow established procedures, and work in coordination with USGS-NWHC staff to complete work assignments. Knowledge of general approaches for laboratory & field research including maintaining a lab notebook. Ability to follow written protocols and guidelines and to consult with project leader or lead technician when issues arise. Knowledge of aseptic technique and biosafety procedures. Hand and finger dexterity, which is equal to the exacting use of small tools and equipment, is required.
2. Required expertise/skills:
The Contractor must have at minimum a BA/BS degree in a relevant field such as wildlife/natural resources management, biology, zoology, ecology, microbiology, genetics, or suitable equivalent. Preference will be given to those applicants with a strong academic record in coursework directly relevant to this position. Prior research or laboratory experience is required with a basic understanding of common molecular techniques. Candidate must demonstrate good organizational and communication skills and be able to enter data accurately in a timely manner. He/She must have the ability to manage time effectively among multiple tasks. A familiarity with MS Office Products (Word, Excel, and Powerpoint) is also required. Applicant must be a U.S. Citizen.
3. Desired expertise/skills:
Preferred candidate should demonstrate a strong interest in wildlife disease and/or ecology and have familiarity with disease processes and vocabulary. Extensive experience with common molecular techniques (DNA extraction, standard PCR, quantitative PCR, gel electrophoresis, sequencing, BLAST analysis) is desirable. Familiarity with working in a BioSafety Level-2 laboratory is also helpful. Skills in reviewing current literature and compiling summaries are desirable as is knowledge of MS Access and ArcGIS software.
I. Supporting Information
A. Principal Duty Station- USGS, National Wildlife Health Center, 6006 Schroeder Rd., Madison, WI 53711
B. Period of Performance: approx. 09/4/2018 to 09/03/2019; option to extend up to 1 year pending available funding and academic eligibility
Work will be approx. 35-40 hours/week, not to exceed 2000 hours per performance period, at a rate of $17.21 - $21.32/hr.
Office work will be performed at the NWHC-Madison campus during regular business hours (Mon-Fri, 7:30a-5:30p) under the direct supervision of Dr. Anne Ballmann, USGS-NWHC Wildlife Disease Specialist and Dr. Jeff Lorch, USGS-NWHC Diagnostic Microbiologist. Employee must be able to work at a computer for 25 hours/week. The student will need access to NWHC offices and government computers and will be required to pass a background security check. The government will provide the necessary training in data entry. The student is expected to adhere to appropriate NWHC guidelines, follow established procedures, and work in coordination with USGS-NWHC to complete work assignments.
Compensation is $17.21-$21.32 per hour dependent on level of experience and academic record. The student is responsible for all transportation costs to and from the principal duty station (Madison, WI). Costs related to this position and occupational health program requirements (protective rabies titer, respirator evaluation and N-95 respirator fitting) will be covered by the employer. Student contractors are not eligible for paid leave or federal employee health benefits.
To apply, please send cover letter, resume, an unofficial copy of college transcript, and contact information for 2 references to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org by 11:59 pm MONDAY, JULY 9, 2018.