ERS Postdoctoral Program

The Economic Research Service (ERS) Postdoctoral Program

ERS has openings for Postdoctoral positions in Washington, DC, in the following subject areas:

  • Natural resources, environment, and energy: Economist/Social Scientist:

    The Economic Research Service (ERS) is seeking a post-doctoral researcher to work with ERS and the USDA Climate Change Program Office on a program of research and analysis designed to estimate the contribution of U.S. agriculture generally, and USDA programs in particular, to greenhouse gas emissions and sinks. Because of the complex, ever-changing nature of carbon sinks and emissions from agricultural land and production, effectively addressing climate change requires a multi-faceted effort by many USDA and other government agencies. Tracking trends in key agricultural production practices is a critical component of the USDA effort to estimate nitrous oxide, methane, and carbon dioxide emissions and sinks associated with cropland and livestock. Equally important is an improved understanding of farmers’ adoption decisions for those practices. The work will contribute to the development of the Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks and other publications on agricultural practice trends on U.S. farms and ranches. These efforts provide critical information needed to ensure that US climate action plans are effective and are adapted to changing environmental and economic conditions.

    The incumbent will identify and analyze national agricultural survey data to assess national trends in agricultural conservation practice adoption and develop a program of research on the determinants conservation practice adoption, including the role of financial and technical assistance from USDA conservation programs. The work will focus primarily on practices most likely to affect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in agriculture. Specific practices will be selected based on importance to USDA GHG emission estimation, USDA climate change program goals, and the limitations of data used to estimate adoption. The research will include analysis of existing USDA datasets, including the Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) and the Census of Agriculture. The Incumbent will be responsible for developing and documenting methods for estimating practice adoption rates including the identifying the role of conservation incentives and other determinants of adoption, preparing tables and charts that summarize practice adoption and adoption trends, and drafting reports suitable for publication by USDA and refereed journals.  

    The incumbent will work largely under the direction of Economic Research Service (ERS) management, but will also work closely with the USDA Climate Change Program Office staff in the Office of the Chief Economist (OCE) and researchers at the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory (NREL) at Colorado State University. 

    Proven skills in estimating econometric models, including experience with standard econometric or statistical software (e.g., SAS, STATA, or R) and experience working with large datasets are required. Working knowledge of agricultural production and conservation practices is a plus.

What Is ERS?

The Economic Research Service is a primary source of economic information and research in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. With 350 employees, ERS conducts a research program to inform and enhance public and private decision-making on economic and policy issues involving food, farming, natural resources, and rural development.

Why Work at ERS?

Employment at ERS offers a stimulating intellectual environment with ample potential for personal and professional growth. Our staff includes nearly 250 economists and social scientists working on timely, policy-relevant research. The selected Postdoc candidates will work independently and in partnerships with coworkers from diverse backgrounds and will interact with other professionals through team projects, seminars, and collaboration with peers in other agencies and academia.

ERS analysts conduct research on a variety of topics, employing advanced econometric and modeling approaches applied to extensive data and GIS resources. Results are disseminated in high-quality in-house reports and other publications and on our much-visited website. ERS analysts are also expected to publish in peer-reviewed academic journals and in papers presented to academic colleagues at conferences and meetings, further enhancing their professional credentials.

The Postdoc appointees to the ERS team will conduct independent and collaborative research on issues that matter, in a challenging environment in which to continue their professional careers.

Salary and Benefits

The annual salary for these positions (including locality pay) is $87,821. Benefits include eligibility for health insurance and life insurance. Appointees also earn annual and sick leave and receive 10 paid holidays per year.


Employment in the Postdoc program is a temporary, 2-year appointment.

Eligibility Criteria

Candidates must complete a Ph.D. degree prior to employment. Preference is given to candidates whose degree has been received not more than 4 years prior to employment.

Candidates must be U.S. citizens or be non-citizens lawfully admitted for permanent residence and seeking citizenship.

Advantages of Working at ERS

Opportunities to:

  • Influence policy
  • Publish and flourish
  • Work with the highly regarded ERS team
  • Attend stimulating seminars

Employment that offers:

  • Competitive salaries and benefits
  • State-of-the-art technical support
  • A modern office facility in the heart of the Nation's capital
  • Access to unique data resources

How To Apply

Send one curriculum vitae to the address below, and indicate the position(s) for which you are applying.

The following information must be included in your CV or submitted separately for ERS to evaluate your qualifications and determine if you meet legal requirements for Federal employment:

  • Copy of your graduate and undergraduate transcripts or list of courses successfully completed (include a description of any course not readily identifiable by the title).
  • Exact date or expected date (month/year) of completion of all Ph.D. degree requirements. Graduates of foreign universities must include proof that their Ph.D. degree is equivalent to one granted by an accredited U.S. college or university.
  • Description of work experience related to the position.
  • List of publications, presentations, and honors/awards.
  • One-page abstract of your Ph.D. dissertation.
  • The title of the position(s) for which you are applying and statement of how you meet the special requirements of the position(s), including information concerning pertinent courses, publications, and accomplishments.
  • Veterans' preference (if applicable).
  • Highest Federal civilian grade held (if applicable).

Open Period: March 7, 2016 – April 30, 2016. For the best chance of selection, apply early. Applications will be reviewed beginning March 21, 2016, and a selection could be made any time after that date.

Send your application and supporting materials (electronic submission is strongly encouraged) to:

Cathi T. Ferguson USDA – ERS/HR
1400 Independence Ave., SW, Mail Stop 1800
Washington, DC 20250-1800
Phone: 202-694-5405 | Fax: 202-245-5605

USDA Nondiscrimination Statement

EEO/No FEAR – Equal Employment Opportunity data posted pursuant to the Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (No FEAR Act), Public Law 107-174.