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Research Associate

University of South Carolina
Capitol, SC
Closing date
Apr 8, 2024

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Logo For Posting:

Posting Number:
USC Market Title:
Research Associate
Link to USC Market Title:
Business Title (Internal Title):
Research Associate
Work County:
Arnold School of Public Health
ASPH Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Advertised Salary Range:
$45,760 - Commensurate with qualifications
Part/Full Time:
Full Time
Hours per Week:
Work Schedule:
Must be willing to work a flexible schedule to meet the needs of the department.
Type of Staff Position:
Staff Research Grant (SRGP)
Basis :
12 months
Job Search Category:
Other Professional
About University of South Carolina:
From the Upstate to the Lowcountry, the University of South Carolina system is transforming the lives of South Carolinians through the impact of our eight institutions and 20 locations throughout the state. More than 50,000 students are enrolled at one of eight institutions, including the research campus in Columbia and comprehensive four-year universities in Aiken, Upstate and Beaufort. In addition, our Palmetto College campuses in Salkehatchie, Union, Lancaster and Sumter enable students to earn associate or bachelor's degrees through a combination of in-person, online or blended learning. All of our system institutions place strong emphasis on service - helping to build healthier, more educated communities in South Carolina and beyond.
Inclusive Excellence Statement:
At the University of South Carolina, we strive to cultivate an inclusive environment that is open, welcoming, and supportive of individuals of all backgrounds. We recognize diversity in our workforce is essential to providing academic excellence and critical to our sustainability. The University is committed to eliminating barriers created by institutional discrimination through accountability and continuous process improvement. We celebrate the diverse voices, perspectives, and experiences of our employees.
South Carolina Retirement:
State Insurance Programs:
Annual Leave:
Sick Leave:
Advertised Job Summary:
The Nolan lab will employ this research associate position as a lead vector surveillance technician. The main objective is to contribute to the effective monitoring and control of vector-borne diseases by implementing comprehensive surveillance programs throughout South Carolina. The R01 grant this position will be hired under serves to transform the current paradigm of tick-borne disease surveillance by developing a novel set of tools to facilitate more accurate surveillance of tick-borne diseases at a lower cost, specifically Rickettsial diseases. The main goal of the project is to develop new statistical models for vector-borne diseases that are useful to federal and state public health agencies as well as private individuals. Under the supervision of Dr. Stella Self and Dr. Melissa Nolan, a full-time laboratory technician will be employed to fill this position. They will play a crucial role in helping to fulfill the grant's first specific aim by collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data related to all seven tick species statewide, identifying potential novel or invasive disease vectors, and assessing disease transmission risk. This position requires one to sort, identify, process, and test ticks for Rickettsia pathogens as their primary responsibility. The research associate will need to have a thorough grasp of the geographical distribution, range, and expansion of Rickettsia-infected ticks in South Carolina. The main focus of this position will be in the lab, but fieldwork may be required to support the ongoing field teams' efforts. In addition, this position requires someone to stay up to date on new advanced surveillance technologies and collaborate with interdisciplinary teams to develop and implement innovative strategies for vector control. The role will assist in providing real-time surveillance and monitoring of tick-borne diseases across the state to improve public health outcomes. By executing efficient surveillance methodologies, this position will aid in the early detection of emerging threats, inform evidence-based decision-making, and ultimately contribute to the protection of public health and the well-being of communities. Join the Nolan lab in the fight against vector-borne diseases and make a meaningful impact on health outcomes through your expertise and contributions as a research associate.
Required Education and Experience:
Research Associate should have a Masters of Science in Epidemiology or related field. Minimum of one year work experience on a vector surveillance team, including tick processing, identification, and pathogen testing. Must have valid and unencumbered SC driver's license and pass motor vehicle records check in accordance with University of South Carolina policies.
This position requires professionalism, including the following attributes: punctuality, integrity, conflict resolution, continuous learning, productivity, ability to work in a team environment, and flexibility. A strong working knowledge of tick biology and ecology, and tick surveillance and diagnostic methodologies are preferred. This position requires in-person work within a laboratory environment and virtual/remote work is not allowed.
Job Duty:
Intake, catalog, identification, and process tick specimens. Ticks will be brought to the tick processing bench on a regular basis through technicians, public submissions, and animal shelter submissions. This position will first sort, dictate, and record intake information (date, originating location, submission type, etc). Next, this position will perform taxonomic, morphological identification using published entomologic keys. All ID'd ticks will then be bilaterally dissected using sterile technique. Half of the specimen will be stored for future research purposes and projects, while the other half will be separated for DNA or RNA extraction. Samples will then need to be prepped and prepared for pathogen testing. The technician will be responsible for the organization of the bisected specimens, as well as updating large databases used by the entire Nolan Lab. This position will primarily lead all tick intake and processing and can substitute this work to other trainees with approval of team leads.
Essential Function:
Percentage of Time:
Job Duty:
In alliance with the R01, the technician will operate Rickettsia panel diagnostic testing. Technical knowledge of quantitative PCR and digital PCR methods for multiplex Rickettsia panels. This will involve bacterial DNA extraction, PCR primer design, reagent preparation, and PCR execution. This might involve tweaking and refining protocols as issues arise (e.g. changing anneal temperatures, performing dilution curves, etc.). In addition, this position will perform other vector- bacterial pathogen panel diagnostic testing as needed. These panels may include Ehrlichia, Anaplasmosis, and Borrelia. This work will additionally require maintenance of annual biosafety certification through university environmental health office.
Essential Function:
Percentage of Time:
Job Duty:
Although the position is primary lab-based, the technician will be required to perform field collection of ticks as needed. As part of the R01, this position will aid in the year-round collection of ticks from various state parks in South Carolina. In the field, both passive and active CDC standardized collection methods will be performed, including dragging and carbon dioxide traps. Dragging will consist of pulling a 1m2 canvas drag over a measured distance. The drag will be examined every 20m for ticks, and all ticks will be removed with forceps and stored in 70% ethanol. Tick density will be calculated for each site to a standardized number of ticks per 1000 m2. Ticks will also be collected via carbon dioxide traps, which will consist of setting out 10 2'x2' white muslin sheets with a fistful size piece of dry ice in the center for 1 hour. After 1 hour, these traps will be collected and stored in gallon Ziploc bags. Both collection methods will be brought back to the laboratory and inspected further. Determination of when this position will need to assist with field collections will be made through dialogue with Drs Nolan and Self and the field collector teams. The technician will also be responsible for coordinating with animal shelters to collect host-attached ticks, and/or collaborating with the public for targeted public submission collections. This position will be the main point of contact for regular and frequent communication with state parks, animal shelters, and the public. They will be responsible for checking the labs tick email account daily and replying to all inquiries.
Essential Function:
Percentage of Time:
Job Duty:
Supervise all tick intake, processing, testing, and reporting workflows. Supervision requires managing student and trainees during internships, practicums, and experiential learnings. This position will be responsible for informing the laboratory manager when chemical reagents and other laboratory supplies are running low and need to be reordered. Supervision will require informing Drs Nolan and Self of unanticipated problems in processing workflow for quick problem identification, troubleshooting and problem solving. Documentation of project activities and communication with research team, including team meetings. Take part in biannual lab meetings, and monthly project specific meetings. Routine review of field surveillance, intake, and testing logs to ensure data quality.
Essential Function:
Percentage of Time:
Job Duty:
Miscellaneous research activities as directed. These might include ordering project supplies, taking inventory, aiding team members with their projects, helping implement new surveillance strategies, giving presentations to community partners and/or scientific audiences, or working with community partners to obtain/maintain research collection permits.
Essential Function:
Percentage of Time:
Hazardous weather category:
Employees in Safety-Sensitive or Security-Sensitive positions will be subject to pre-employment and post-employment drug testing in accordance with University policy HR 1.95 Drug and Alcohol Testing.:
Number of Vacancies:
Desired Start Date:
Job Open Date:
Job Close Date:
Open Until Filled:
Special Instructions to Applicant:
Positions are advertised for a minimum of five (5) business days on our job website. After five (5) business days, positions can be closed at the discretion of the department at any time. This employment site is updated on a regular basis. The length of the recruitment and screening process may vary from position to position, depending upon a variety of factors. Should review of your qualifications result in a decision to pursue your candidacy, you will be contacted by phone or email. We are only accepting applications submitted by April 7, 2024.
Quicklink for Posting:
EEO Statement:
The University of South Carolina does not discriminate in educational or employment opportunities or decisions for qualified persons on the basis of age, ancestry, citizenship status, color, disability, ethnicity, familial status, gender (including transgender), gender identity or expression, genetic information, HIV/AIDs status, military status, national origin, pregnancy (false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, childbirth, recovery therefrom or related medical conditions, breastfeeding), race, religion (including religious dress and grooming practices), sex, sexual orientation, veteran status, or any other bases under federal, state, local law, or regulations.

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