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USDA-ARS Undergraduate Research Opportunity in Food Safety and Immunology

*Applications may be reviewed on a rolling-basis.

ARS Office/Lab and Location: A research opportunity is currently available within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS) located in Ames, Iowa.

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.

Research Project: Our laboratory focus is understanding mode of action of different feed ingredients, mechanisms of colonization by food foodborne pathogens, and how to modulate animal immune status to improve health or limit foodborne pathogen colonization. Participant will participate in understanding immune response and metabolic needs of immune cells of pigs under different conditions. Participant will receive training in methods used to evaluate use of glucose or glutamine by immune cells and how this alters immune responses, and training will include molecular and cellular techniques. More specifically, isolation of immune cells from blood for stimulation in culture, isolation of RNA and analysis of gene expression by real-time PCR, analysis of cytokines produced by ELISA, and cell phenotype by flow cytometry. 

Learning Objectives: The participant may participate in animal trials, and learn to prepare for animal experiments and how to collect different samples from live animals and at necropsy. In addition, training in processing samples and performance of immunohistochemistry may be provided.

Mentor(s): The mentor(s) for this opportunity is Crystal Loving ( If you have questions about the nature of the research project, please contact the mentor(s).

Anticipated Appointment Start Date: September 2023. Start date is flexible and will depend on a variety of factors.

Appointment Length: Appointment length will initially be up to six months, but may be renewed upon recommendation of ARS and is contingent on the availability of funds.

Level of Participation: The appointment is part-time (20 hours per week).

Participant Stipend: The participant will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience. The current part-time stipend for this opportunity is ~$1,355 per month.

Citizenship Requirements: This opportunity is available to U.S. citizens only.

ORISE Information: This 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 be currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in one of the relevant fields to be received before January 8, 2024.

Preferred Skills:

  • Some laboratory experience preferred but not required.