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USGS Mendenhall Research Fellowship - Remote Sensing of Agriculture

Stationed with their USGS Research Adviser at the USDA-ARS HRSL at BARC Beltsville, MD.
$99,200 - $128,956 GS-12
Closing date
Jul 4, 2024

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Career Level
Student / Graduate
Education Level
Job Type
Relocation Cost
No Relocation
Sector Type

Job Details

Mendenhall Postdoctoral Research Fellowship - Research Opportunity #: S69. Remote sensing of agricultural practices to support conservation implementation.

The postdoctoral researcher will join a team of scientists focused on understanding the effects of agricultural conservation practices as relates to agricultural sustainability, reduction of nutrient and sediment losses from farmland, and water quality outcomes. The research advisor has over a decade of experience developing remote sensing applications for winter cover crops and crop residue cover, which provides a fertile and data-rich setting to develop applications based on rapidly advancing satellite data sources, paired with extensive field data collection and access to privacy-protected conservation implementation datasets. The research is impact driven with a focus on supporting adaptive management of conservation practice incentive programs and understanding the linkages between conservation implementation and landscape processes.

The incumbent will work with a diverse team of applied agricultural scientists, technologists, and data and physical scientists to assess the performance of agricultural conservation practices using multispectral and hyperspectral satellite remote sensing systems. The research will develop and implement operational remote sensing methods that assess winter cover crop performance (biomass, fractional cover, N and C content) and crop residue cover related to reduced tillage systems, which will inform decision support tools, modeling efforts, and adaptive management of conservation incentive programs. Ongoing research objectives to which the postdoctoral researcher could apply their talents include: application of remote sensing tools to monitor and adapt conservation implementation in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Missouri; support of projects related to NASA ROSES EMIT and NASA ACRES research; and incorporation of remotely sensed mapping of photosynthetic and non-photosynthetic ground cover into soil erosion models used by USDA NRCS conservation districts (RUSLER) and into carbon monitoring systems (Century, SWAT-C). Duties will include imagery-based data processing as well as field data collection (soils, plants, residue, proximal sensors) to support imagery calibration/validation. The incumbent will have the opportunity to interact with researchers at the USGS and USDA-ARS, as well as conservation collaborators at the Chesapeake Bay Program, state agencies, and elsewhere.


Conditions of Employment

Key Requirements:

  1. Suitable for Federal employment, as determined by background investigation.
  2. Selectee may be subject to serving a trial period.
  3. Selectee subject to successfully passing a pre-employment medical exam.
  4. Selectee must provide proof of valid driver's license, safe driving record.
  5. More requirements are listed under Qualifications and Other Information.

Are There Any Special Requirements For This Position?

  • A background investigation will be required for this position. Continued employment will be subject to the applicant's successful completion of a background security investigation and favorable adjudication. Failure to successfully meet these requirements will be grounds for termination.
  • Taking and passing a pre-employment medical examination at Federal expense is required due to the physical demands of this job.
  • Because this position requires travel for official business, the selectee will be required to apply for a charge card within 30 calendar days of appointment. Individuals who have delinquent account balances from a previous Government charge card will be required to satisfy their existing obligation before a new card can be issued.
  • You will be required to operate a government-owned or -leased vehicle in the performance of your official duties. Applicants for this position must meet the following requirements: (1) possess a valid State license, and (2) possess a safe driving record. If selected, you may be required to provide proof of a valid State license and a copy of your driving record.
  • Throughout the recruitment and hiring process we will be communicating with you via email; therefore, it is imperative that the email address you provide when applying for this vacancy remains active. Should your email address change, please notify the point of contact identified in the vacancy announcement as soon as possible so that we can update our system.



General Information

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. The Program also provides: 1) research experiences that enhance the scientific stature and credentials of the Fellows; and 2) scientific expertise to assist in the implementation of the USGS Strategic Plan and the science strategy of its programs. Mendenhall Fellows are expected to publish their results in peer-reviewed scientific outlets.

Eligibility Requirements

In order to be considered for these opportunities, candidates must:

(1) have successfully completed a Ph.D. in a field related to the described Research Opportunity no earlier than May 29, 2019 (5 years before the announcement opening date); OR

(2) if close to completion, have all Ph.D. requirements completed and must submit proof of completion prior to receiving an official start date;

(3) meet the qualification requirements described in the Research Opportunity. The research proposal submitted must demonstrate that the applicant is equipped with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to successfully perform the duties for the specific Research Opportunity.


Under Executive Order 11935, only United States citizens and nationals (residents of American Samoa and Swains Island) 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, AND the non-citizen meets the appropriation act and immigration laws. Read the information provided in the following link. If a non-citizen does not meet the appropriation act and immigration laws, then they cannot be considered for this Mendenhall Opportunity. Please contact the person under Agency Contact Information for questions about eligibility and further assistance.

Foreign Education. You must provide proof, if the foreign education determines your qualifications for the position. Education completed in foreign colleges or universities may be used to meet Federal qualification requirements if the applicant can show that the foreign education is comparable to education received in accredited educational institutions in the United States. It is the applicant's responsibility to provide such evidence when applying for Federal jobs. If selected, you will be required to provide official proof that such education has been deemed at least equivalent to that gained in conventional U.S. education program. For more information on how foreign education is evaluated, visit: .

You must meet all eligibility requirements for the position by the closing date of the announcement.


Experience refers to paid and unpaid experience, including volunteer work done through National Service programs (e.g. Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) and other organizations (e.g., professional; philanthropic; religious; spiritual; community; student; social). Volunteer work helps build critical competencies, knowledge, and skills and can provide valuable training and experience that translates directly to paid employment. You will receive credit for all qualifying experience, including volunteer experience.

Additional information


  • Travel, transportation, and relocation expenses will not be paid by the Federal Government. Any travel, transportation, and relocation expenses associated with reporting for duty in this position will be the responsibility of the selectee.
  • These research opportunities are in the excepted service and are being filled through a Schedule A noncompetitive appointing authority. Appointments do not confer competitive or permanent status in the Federal Government nor are they subject to competitive examining procedures. The Mendenhall appointment may, in certain circumstances, be extended for up to an additional two years though rare.
  • USGS has determined that the duties of this position are suitable for telework and the selectee may be allowed to telework in accordance with the DOI Telework policy and with supervisor approval. The official worksite for the selectee is the duty station identified in this vacancy announcement. The selectee will typically report to this duty location on a regular and recurring weekly basis.
  • For additional information on our internal telework policy, please reference the Department of the Interior Telework Handbook at:
  • USGS employees are subject to Title 43, USC Section 31(a) and may not: (a) have any personal, private, direct or indirect interest in lands or mineral wealth of lands under survey; (b) have any substantial personal, private, or direct or indirect interest in any private mining or mineral enterprise doing business with the United States; or (c) execute surveys or examinations for private parties or corporations.
  • The application contains information subject to the Privacy Act (P.L. 93-579, 5 USC 552a). The information is used to determine qualifications for employment and is authorized under Title 5, USC, Section 3302 and 3361.
  • Applicants who include vulgar, offensive, or inappropriate language or information in their application package will be ineligible for further consideration for this position.
  • DOI uses E-Verify to confirm the employment eligibility of all newly hired employees. To learn more about E-Verify, including your rights and responsibilities, please visit
  • The Department of the Interior (DOI) places a high value on diversity of experience and cultural perspectives and encourages applications from all interested eligible candidates. Diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) are fundamental principles that guide the Department and allow us to successfully achieve our mission.

Agency Benefits:


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