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FDA Postgraduate Microbiologist Fellowship

Application Deadline
8/15/2022 3:00:00 PM Eastern Time Zone


*Applications will be reviewed on a rolling-basis.

A research opportunity is currently available at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), Office of Food Safety, located in Bedford Park, Illinois.

In the past decade, low moisture foods such as flour, nuts, seeds, peanut butter and spices have been associated with a number of foodborne illnesses. Since low moisture foods have been recognized as an important vehicle of foodborne illness, new approaches to risk reduction are needed to ensure the safety of these types of foods. A project at FDA/IFSH (Institute for Food Safety and Health) will include collaborative multidisciplinary research aimed at improving the safety of low moisture foods. An integrated approach will be used to investigate the processing practices and parameters that may impact the survival/inactivation of pathogens in foods of low moisture or water activity.

The selected participant will be trained in the use and analysis of thermal processing, and under the supervision of the mentor, will investigate the factors influencing the effectiveness of thermal processes such as drying, baking and roasting, and other preventive controls on enhancing the microbial safety of low moisture foods. This research will enable industry and government stakeholders to identify risk mitigation strategies that may be influential in ensuring the safety of low moisture foods.

Through this opportunity, the ORISE Fellow will receive training in: 1) assays for detecting, enumerating and characterizing pathogens in food, 2) operation of lab- and pilot-scale processing equipment (dryers, ovens, etc.), 3) data analysis, and 4) presentation and writing of research presentations and papers.

Anticipated Appointment Start Date: July 1, 2022; start date is flexible

This program, administered by ORAU through its contract with the U.S. Department of Energy to manage the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, was established through an interagency agreement between DOE and FDA. The initial appointment is for one year, but may be renewed upon recommendation of FDA contingent on the availability of funds. The participant will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience. Proof of health insurance is required for participation in this program. The appointment is full-time at FDA in the Bedford Park, Illinois, area. Participants do not become employees of FDA, DOE or the program administrator, and there are no employment-related benefits.

Completion of a successful background investigation by the Office of Personnel Management is required for an applicant to be on-boarded at FDA. OPM can complete a background investigation only for individuals, including non-US Citizens, who have resided in the US for a total of three of the past five years.

FDA requires ORISE participants to read and sign their FDA Education and Training Agreement within 30 days of his/her start date, setting forth the conditions and expectations for his/her educational appointment at the agency. This agreement covers such topics as the following:
  • Non-employee nature of the ORISE appointment;
  • Prohibition on ORISE Fellows performing inherently governmental functions;
  • Obligation of ORISE Fellows to convey all necessary rights to the FDA regarding intellectual property conceived or first reduced to practice during their fellowship;
  • The fact that research materials and laboratory notebooks are the property of the FDA;
  • ORISE fellow’s obligation to protect and not to further disclose or use non-public information.


The qualified candidate should have received a doctoral degree in one of the relevant fields (e.g. Food Science/Technology, Chemistry, Biochemistry), or be currently pursuing the degree with completion by the appointment start date. Degree must have been received within five years of the appointment start date.

Preferred skills:
  • A strong academic record and hands-on expertise in analytical chemistry, food chemistry or protein chemistry analytical methods 
  • Diverse experience in the areas of basic food and analytical chemistry using complex assays such as ELISA tests, protein-based tests, PCR tests, and LC-MS/MS methods for detecting and quantifying peptides 
  • Familiarity with analytical methods for extracting and purifying food constituents and contaminants and statistical procedures 
  • Familiarity with food processing methods and processing equipment 
  • Experience interpreting and evaluating the results of analysis to determine validity and scientific significance 
  • Experience writing manuscripts with minimal editing which include diagrams, charts, graphs, etc. related to research activities and outcomes
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills

Eligibility Requirements

  • Degree: Doctoral Degree received within the last 60 months or anticipated to be received by 7/1/2022 11:59:00 PM.
  • Discipline(s):
  • Life Health and Medical Sciences (49 )
  • Other Physical Sciences ()


Have you lived in the United States for at least 36 out of the past 60 months? (36 months do not have to be consecutive.)