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U.S. Geological Survey Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Program


The objective of the USGS Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Program is to provide highly motivated recent Ph.D. graduates with the opportunity to conduct concentrated research in association with selected U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Scientists, as a final element to their formal career preparation. Selectees will utilize the excellent scientific resources available at the USGS in the conduct of scientific investigations and exploratory development associated with advanced scientific research. This program will provide selectees the opportunity to contribute to the overall research efforts of the USGS and in turn they will gain excellent professional research experience early in their careers.

Appointment Authority and Duration of Assignments

Appointments under the USGS Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Program will be made under the Schedule A, 213.3102 (r) excepted appointing authority for a minimum period of 13 months and a maximum period of 4 years. The "r" authority is authorized for use by agencies to fill, "Positions established in support of fellowship and similar programs that are filled from limited applicant pools and operate under specific criteria developed by the employing agency and/or a non-Federal organization. These programs may include: internship or fellowship programs that provide developmental or professional experiences to individuals who have completed their formal education; training and associateship programs designed to increase the pool of qualified candidates in a particular occupational specialty; professional /industry exchange programs that provide for a cross-fertilization between the agency and the private sector to foster mutual understanding, an exchange of ideas, or to bring experienced practitioners to the agency; residency programs through which participants gain experience in a Federal clinical environment; and programs that require a period of Government service in exchange for educational, financial or other assistance."

Recruitment Process

Research opportunities will be advertised open to all qualified candidates on the Office of Human Resources Management's USA Jobs web site. In addition, these research opportunities will be announced on websites, in journals, etc. (e.g. GSA Today, Explorer, EOS, Black Issues in Higher Education, Geotimes, Association for Women Geoscientists, Sciencewise and the National Association of Black Geologists and Geophysicists) in order to attract a highly qualified diverse group of applicants. The advertisements in these journals/websites will refer interested candidates to the USGS Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Program website where more in depth information about the Program can be found, and links to the specific USA Jobs vacancy announcements will be provided.

In some instances, where there is a need for a postdoctoral research fellow and a highly qualified candidate is identified for that opportunity without advertisement, a noncompetitive appointment can be made. A candidate being considered for noncompetitive appointment is to submit a resume and a description of the research to be conducted under the USGS Fellowship Program.

The research proposal should at a minimum, contain: research objectives, links to USGS science strategy, how and where the research is to be conducted, name of Research Advisor(s), required scientific facilities, and anticipated operating expenses (for field work, access to specialized equipment, conference travel, etc.)

Qualification Requirements

Candidates must meet the Office of Human Resources Management qualification requirements for the occupational series to which they are applying. In addition, they must have received their doctoral or equivalent graduate degree within the past five years. The degree must be in hand by the selectees starting date. Degrees must be attained in the last five years to meet the bureau's desire for current/recent expertise. In addition, the knowledge, skills and technical approaches of the candidates must be current. This is consistent with the criteria for postdoctoral research opportunities within academic communities.

Application Process

Application instructions will be set forth in the individual vacancy announcements. Applicants will be required to submit a resume, description of the proposed research to be conducted under the USGS Fellowship Program, and a narrative statement addressing the knowledges, abilities, skills, and other characteristics (KASOCs) identified for the position. The research proposal should at a minimum, contain: research objectives, links to USGS science strategy, how and where the research is to be conducted, name of Research Advisor(s), required scientific facilities, and anticipated operating expenses (for field work, access to specialized equipment, conference travel, etc.) Candidates are strongly encouraged to consult USGS Research Advisors during the development of the above proposal. Applications are due in the servicing Human Resources Office by the closing date indicated in the specific vacancy announcement.

Rating Process

The servicing personnel specialist will review applications received by the closing date for basic qualifications. All candidates who meet the basic qualification requirements for the research opportunity will be referred to the USGS postdoctoral research panel for rating. The panels will rate the applications based on an evaluation of the research proposals and the extent and quality of experience, education, and training relevant to the duties of the research opportunity.

Once the applications have been rated, the servicing personnel specialist will transmute the scores assigned to the applicants to the appropriate numerical value between 70 and 100. Then veterans preference points will be added as appropriate. The top 3 to 5 applicants will then be referred to the selecting official/selection panel in score order on a referral certificate.

Selection Process

Selections for research opportunities will be made in accordance with the rule of 3. Selecting officials are strongly encouraged to conduct interviews with all candidates referred who are within reach for selection. Reference checks are also strongly encouraged prior to final selection. Once a final selection is made, the referral certificate (notated with the selectee's name and the selecting official's signature) will be returned to the servicing personnel specialist. The servicing personnel specialist will then make the official job offer.

Appointment Process

Selected candidates will be appointed to a Schedule A excepted appointment (under the "r" authority).


Employees hired under the USGS Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Program are entitled to all benefits afforded permanent employees (e.g., health and life insurance, retirement under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), annual and sick leave.)

Example of Position Description Format in MS Word format (21K)

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Page Last Modified: Thursday, 01-May-2014 14:30:13 EDT