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Postdoctoral Research Fellow

U.S. Geological Survey
Spokane, Washington State
Closing date
Jan 6, 2022

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Job Details



The Mendenhall Research Fellowship Program provides an opportunity for postdoctoral fellows to conduct concentrated research in association with USGS scientists, often as a final element to their formal career preparation. We seek a Mendenhall Research Fellow to work with scientists and industry partners to study the Mountain Pass rare earth element (REE) deposit in southeastern California. Recent decades have seen a vast expansion in the technological applications of REEs, and they are currently at the forefront of revolutions in electronics and clean energy. As the Nation’s premier REE ore deposit, and the only actively producing REE mine in the country, Mountain Pass is essential in bolstering domestic supply of critical REEs.


The Mendenhall Research Fellow will establish key parameters in the space and time development of the Mountain Pass REE deposit. Experience studying magmatic-hydrothermal systems, carbonatites, and/or REE mineralization would be beneficial, but is not required. New types of data acquired may include: geologic mapping, geochronology, mineral chemistry, stable and radiogenic isotope geochemistry, thermobarometry, and thermodynamic modeling. The Mendenhall Fellow will be aided by a comprehensive inventory of rock samples, drill core samples, maps, polished thin sections, and geochemistry for the Mountain Pass carbonatite ore body. Access to the Mountain Pass mine site will be accommodated by MP Materials mine staff.

Required Qualifications

  • Ph.D. in a related field (e.g., geologic mapping, structural geology, igneous petrology, carbonate petrology, economic geology, aqueous geochemistry, geochronology, isotope geochemistry) no earlier than October 8, 2016 (5 years before the announcement opening date), or if close to completion, have all Ph.D. requirements completed and submit proof of completion prior to receiving an official start date.
  • Under Executive Order 11935, only United States citizens may compete for civil service jobs. A Federal agency is permitted to hire non-citizens only in very limited circumstances where there are no qualified citizens available for the position.
  • Demonstrated track record of peer-reviewed scientific publications.

Classification and Compensation

This is a full-time, two-year fixed-term appointment with the potential to extend. The salary range is $77,488 to $100,739 (GS-12, steps 1-10). Note: first time hires to the Federal Government are typically hired at step 1.


Spokane, Washington

Start Date

It is anticipated that this position will start no later than March 2023. The person selected must have all Ph.D. requirements completed and must submit proof of completion prior to receiving an official start date.

Application Instructions

To apply, refer to the full Mendenhall Research Opportunity (RO# 20-35) advertised on the USGS Mendenhall Program website, Applicants must develop a Research Proposal (8 standard pages in length) with: research objective(s), links to USGS science program strategy, how and where research is to be conducted, required scientific facilities, and a separate budget estimate with anticipated operating expenses. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact Research Advisors early in the application process to discuss project ideas (primary contact: Dr. Kathryn Watts,



The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) serves the Nation by providing reliable scientific information to describe and understand the Earth; minimize loss of life and property from natural disasters; manage water, biological, energy, and mineral resources; and enhance and protect our quality of life. As the Nation's largest water, earth, and biological science and civilian mapping agency, the USGS collects, monitors, analyzes, and provides scientific understanding about natural resource conditions, issues, and problems. The diversity of our scientific expertise enables us to carry out large-scale, multi-disciplinary investigations and provide impartial scientific information to resource managers, planners, and other customers.
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