USDA-ARS Strategic Safety Climate Management Initiatives Fellowship

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Manhattan, Kansas

Job Type Paid Internship
Salary Details The participant will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience.
Deadline Aug 02, 2024

*Applications are reviewed on a rolling-basis.

ARS Office/Lab and Location: A research opportunity is currently available with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), located in Manhattan, Kansas.

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.

The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), USDA, located in Manhattan, Kansas, is a state-of-the-art biocontainment facility for the diagnosis and study of foreign animal, emerging, and zoonotic (transmitted from animals to human) diseases that threaten U.S. agriculture and public health.  NBAF is the only facility in the U.S. where large animals infected with the highest risk pathogens can be housed in biosafety level (BSL) 3 and 4 containment.  NBAF provides and strengthens the nation with critical capabilities to diagnose animal diseases, to conduct research and develop vaccines and other medical countermeasures, and to train veterinarians and other scientists in preparedness and response to animal disease outbreaks.

Research Project: Under the guidance of a mentor, the participant will assist in team-building initiatives at NBAF, which includes supporting the project Strategic Safety Climate Management Initiatives for a High-Reliability Organization (HRO), the development of a culture foundation at NBAF and the High-Reliability Organization development and training at NBAF. The fellow will utilize a combination of methods, including regular consultation visits by a psychology research associate for personalized support, scientific literature reviews on relevant topics, and expert consultations to address NBAF inquiries. The fellow will have the opportunity to strengthen their knowledge and experience with data management and analysis, survey-building software, and psychometrics, which can aid in these efforts as needed.

Additionally, under the guidance of a mentor, the fellow will have the opportunity to:

  • assist with providing micro-workshops or ongoing Q&A sessions to engage NBAF staff directly, promoting understanding and buy-in to foster a positive culture of HRO within NBAF;
  • assist with the internal efforts on NBAF culture building and HRO to support current efforts to ensure effective communication of the agendas and core objectives of the NBAF HRO culture which includes developing, administering, and analyzing surveys to support current contracts for culture development and HRO;
  • assist with the NBAF mentoring program including development, administration, and execution;
  • assist with producing bi-monthly reports that include detailed questions from NBAF and responses based on scientific literature and experts in leadership, safety climate, psychological safety, and after-action review (AAR) sessions; and
  • assist with developing, updating, and implementing organizational policies and procedures for High-Reliability Organization (HRO).

Learning Objectives: 

  • Learn and practice techniques for survey development, application and analysis.
  • Develop and facilitate activities related to High Reliability Organizations (HRO) principles.
  • The fellow will be provided with training in Lean Six Sigma principles and applications.
  • Develop capacity to facilitate team development and safety climate in a large organization.
  • Collaborate closely with Kansas State University and interact with faculty and students to share experiences and information on safety climate-related issues.
  • Attending and presenting data of his/her findings in national and international conferences.

Mentor(s): The mentor for this opportunity is Alfonso Clavijo (alfonso.clavijo@usda.gov). If you have questions about the nature of the research, please contact the mentor(s).

Anticipated Appointment Start Date: July 2024. Start date is flexible and will depend on a variety of factors.

Appointment Length: The appointment will initially be for two years, but may be renewed upon recommendation of ARS and is contingent on the availability of funds.

Level of Participation: The appointment is part time.

Participant Stipend: The participant will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience.

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 ORISE.ARS.Plains@orau.org and include the reference code for this opportunity.


The qualified candidate should be currently pursuing or have received a master's or doctoral degree in the one of the relevant fields. Degree must have been received within the past one year, or anticipated to be received by 5/1/2025.


The application must be completed through Zintellect. https://www.zintellect.com/Opportunity/Details/USDA-ARS-P-2024-0211 

When you apply, please indicate that you are responding to the posting on Conservation Job Board.

Category Sustainability
Tags Sustainable Agriculture