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USDA-ARS Fellowship to Participate in Designing a Human Small Intestine Model

ARS Office/Lab and LocationA research opportunity is available with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), at the Eastern Regional Research Center (ERRC) within the Dairy and Functional Foods Research Unit (DFFRU), Diet and Gut Microbiome Research Group, located in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania.

About Us: 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 ProjectThe appointment is within the ARS and located in the Northeast Area (NEA), Eastern Regional Research Center (ERRC), Dairy and Functional Foods Research Unit (DFFRU), Diet and Gut Microbiome Research Group, in Wyndmoor, PA. The mission of the research group is to investigate the kinetics changes of the gut microbial ecosystem in response to important food components from dairy, fiber, and plant polyphenols. This will be done using a combination of advanced in vitro microbial culturing technology, next-generation DNA sequencing and bioinformatics, metabolomics, polymer chemistry, and molecular and cell biology. 

The selected applicant will participate in the design and manufacture of a bench-top device that mimics the physiological structure of human small intestine. That is a team project, but it requires a high level of independence and self-motivation from the applicant. 

Learning ObjectivesAs a result of this training the participant will improve their skills in biomedical device design and set up.

USDA-ARS Contact: The mentor for this opportunity is Lin Shu Liu ( If you have questions about the nature of the research, please contact the mentor(s).

Anticipated Appointment Start Date: November 2022. Start date is flexible and will depend on a variety of factors.

Appointment LengthThe appointment will initially be for one year, but may be renewed upon recommendation of the mentor and ARS, and is contingent on the availability of funds.

Level of ParticipationThe appointment is full-time or part-time flexible.

Participant StipendThe participant(s) will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience.

Citizenship RequirementsThis opportunity is available to U.S. citizens only.

ORISE InformationThis 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. If you have additional questions about the application process please email and include the reference code for this opportunity.

The qualified candidate should have received a bachelor's or master's degree in one of the relevant fields (e.g., Electric Engineering, Electronic Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering), or be currently pursuing the degree with completion before the appointment start date. Degree must have been received within the past five years.

Preferred skills:

  • Parametric Modeling Experience - Preferably SolidWorks
  • CAN (Computer Area Network) bus experience - Preferably Eaton's Smart-Wire CAN system
  • PID Controller Experience
  • PLC experience including programing
  • Instrumentation, Control and Data Acquisition 
  • Mechanic of Materials
  • Working knowledge and/or experience of:
  • Milling operations
  • Lathe operations
  • 3d Printing 
  • TIG Welding

Following skills are appreciated:

  • Machine Design
  • Fluid Dynamics
  • Heat and Mass transfer analytical experience - Preferably Numerical modeling experience