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Posted on: November 3, 2020

NBAF Scientist Training Program Offers Opportunity for Students in Biological Sciences

Studying Zoonotic DiseasesIf you’re a student scientist who’s interested in furthering your education so you can work with the worst of the worst (pathogens, that is), USDA and Kansas State University are looking for you.

When the USDA National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) opens in Manhattan, Kansas, in 2023, it will need microbiologists, virologists, molecular biologists and many other subject matter experts ready to fight the most serious zoonotic and emerging diseases. 

Zoonotic diseases are those like SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, that can pass from animals to humans. NBAF, a state-of-the-art biocontainment lab, is the first U.S. facility to offer biosecurity level 4 laboratories (BSL-4) capable of housing cattle, swine, sheep and other large livestock for zoonotic disease research.

One of the groups that will conduct research at NBAF is the Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (FADDL), part of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). FADDL will relocate from Plum Island, N.Y., to Manhattan. The main campus of Kansas State University is adjacent to NBAF. 

In order to ensure a full complement of qualified scientists at FADDL, the APHIS NBAF Scientist Training Program (NSTP) was formed in 2018. The program pays for students to complete their advanced degrees in relevant fields, in exchange for a service commitment with USDA. 

“The NSTP fellowship is a prestigious award that affords the opportunity for a student in an MS, PhD, or DVM/PhD program to gain hands-on experience with a pathogen causing significant animal/human disease and economic consequences,” said Dr. Beth Montelone, K-State senior associate vice president for research and NSTP contact person. “Students are guaranteed a job in USDA APHIS upon completion of their degree. This will be the foundation for their career in government or academic research.”

NSTP provides selected students with full tuition, fees, a stipend, health benefits and help with other costs. Hands-on experience in the world’s newest biocontainment lab will set students up for exciting career opportunities.

“The student will be directly involved with FADDL’s research on existing and emerging pathogens of agricultural and human health concern. They will have the opportunity to develop diagnostic tools, therapies and vaccines,” Montelone said.

Read more about a student who was chosen for the program.

To learn more about the NBAF Scientist Training Program at K-State, visit https://www.k-state.edu/research/opportunities/NSTP.html or contact Dr. Beth Montelone, senior associate vice president for research, at bethmont@k-state.edu

To learn about exciting opportunities for undergraduate students, visit https://www.bri.k-state.edu/education/nltp/index.html

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