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Chemist

Location
Helena, MT

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 To be considered for any Department of Agriculture Agency position, applicants must complete and submit their application online, as well as upload any required application materials.  Successful applicant(s) are required to successfully pass all Department of Agriculture specific background check(s) relevant to each position.    (Please type any applicable or required supplemental responses in a Word document and attach to your application. HELPFUL HINT: when attaching you must check the “relevant document” box to ensure your attachments are uploading correctly to the specific application. PLEASE do not attach more than requested. If you have more than 25 attachments in the system you will need to email these to: **** failure to do so will conclude in an incomplete application.)  The Agricultural Sciences Division provides agricultur­al, public, and environmental services and protection through administra­tion of the Montana laws and rules in the areas of pesticides, agricultural chemical ground water protection, noxious weed control, feeds, fertiliz­ers, seed, grain commodi­ty dealers, public warehousemen, organic, nurseries, produce, mint, apiculture, alfalfa leaf cutting bees, and pest management consulting, survey, and quarantines.  Cooperative agreements with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Drug Adminis­tration (FDA), and Environmental Protec­tion Agency (EPA) provide services and jurisdiction in the areas of inter­state and interna­tional movement of plant materials and produce, monitoring of firms for animal drug use, and regula­tion of pesticide sales, use, and production in Montana. The Laboratory Bureau is a jointly operated analytical facility which is managed as a single unit based upon the Cooperative Agreement between the Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA) and the Agriculture Experiment Station (AES).  The primary mission of the laboratory is to produce and report reliable and defensible analytical results. The functions of MDA and AES laboratory are similar; however, their primary analytical purpose is different. The MDA part of the laboratory is regulatory to assist in the enforcement of Montana Feeds, Fertilizer, Pesticide and Agricultural Chemical Ground Water Protection laws.  The AES part provides analytical services to farmers, ranchers, researchers and other state agencies on a fee basis. Major Duties: PESTICIDE RESIDUE ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                Conducts complex and varied residue analysis on vegetation, soil, water, biological, clothing and other samples to identify and quantify trace amount of pesticides to develop scientifically valid conclusions.  Uses advanced lab techniques to extract, partition, clean, derivatize, and concentrate samples to isolate residues.  Configures and calibrates sophisticated computerized analytical instruments such as Gas Chromatograph (GC) with a mass selective detector, High Pressure Liquid Chromatograph (HPLC) with a MS/MS detector and others to evaluate and document instrument performance and calibration prior to analysis  using knowledge and skills in instrument  operation and analysis software  and individual program QA/QC requirements.Evaluate instrumental results of unknown samples to identify presence or absence of pesticide residues in intricate chromatograms by distinguishing pesticide peaks from interfering peaks using knowledge of separation chemistry, instrumental response and changing compound response in the presence of complex matrices that result in unclear data.  Interpret analytical measurements and determine whether findings are reportable and defendable using knowledge of instrument measurability limits, individual program QA/QC requirements and analytical method criteria.  Assesses whether normal reporting limits can be achieved.  Quantify trace amounts of pesticide residues by performing complex mathematical calculations to compare chromatograms of known standards versus sample chromatograms using knowledge of scientific equations,  statistics and instrumental analysis software.Confirms pesticide residue findings to report scientifically valid and legally defensible analytical results using knowledge of mass spectroscopy, advanced data interpretation and instrumental analysis software.  Drafts, explains, and defends Analytical Laboratory Report for approval by Laboratory Bureau Chief.Record all test information including bench work, raw data, calculations and evaluations required to prove and defend analytical findings using knowledge of individual program QA/QC requirements, technical writing skills, laboratory record keeping procedures and the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) software.          Maintain a standard of performance that ensures quality of lab results using knowledge of laboratory procedures and expectations, ability to follow written and oral instructions and the ability to perform tasks meticulously, consistently and without error.Maintain the rigorous and in depth requirement of the ISO 17025 standard for the USDA Pesticide Data Program using knowledge and experience with all technical elements of the ISO 17025 standard including corrective and preventative actions, document control, record keeping, traceability of critical measurements and others.  Errors could result in poor audit findings and failure of the lab to maintain accreditation.Perform laboratory techniques and measurements with care and attention to detail so that results from day to day are consistently accurate and any noted differences within statistical expectations.Discern slight differences in order to identify and correct irregularities using analytical observation skills and knowledge and experience of chemistry principles and analytical measurement equipment.      LABORATORY OPERATIONS                                                                                                                            Under general supervision of the program manager, implements appropriate experiments to test current methods to improve or troubleshoot method performance and/or test the performance and efficiency of new methods utilizing experience and knowledge of QA/QC requirements, principles of analytical chemistry and behavior of established methods. Evaluates experimental data and demonstrates method performance including accuracy, precision and other criteria using knowledge of statistics and technical writing and presentation skillsDevelops and maintains scientific records and reports (e.g., worksheets, chromatograms, calculations, etc.) to assure quality control and documentation.  Maintains instrument, calibration, repair, and statistical and other laboratory notebooks as required by QA/QC policy to assure expected performance under specific conditions.Reviews, evaluates, and updates laboratory methods file, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and inventory for supplies and materials to assure laboratory operations are properly managed.Performs a variety of non-pesticide analytical determinations as assigned using knowledge and experience in inorganic chemistry principles, computerized automated instruments with specialized operation and measurement software, inorganic data interpretation, and complex mathematical equations.  The addition of non-pesticide analyses responsibilities increase job complexity, as they require an understanding and application across a broader range of chemistries, laboratory and instrumental techniques, measurement software systems and program QA/QC requirements. Other duties as assigned Supervision:  This position does not supervise others.  Physical and Environmental Demands: Handles chemicals and samples which may be toxic, carcinogenic, flammable, corrosive or all of the above, on a daily basis to perform analytical work using knowledge of chemical properties, toxicity.  Requires the regular use of protective equipment as well as compliance with OSHA requirements and laboratory safety policy. Works in a laboratory environment that includes exposure to odors, fumes, noise, and dust and transports heavy gas cylinders and lifts cases of solvents and other chemicals using knowledge of laboratory safety policy.  The work is physically demanding, requiring the ability to work standing for long periods of time. Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (Behaviors): This position requires considerable knowledge of analytical, organic, and inorganic chemistry; instrumental analysis and physics to perform and professional analytical work.  Considerable knowledge in method development, designing ruggedness test, statistical evaluation in order to develop, evaluate and make recommendations for new methods.  Working knowledge of laboratory record keeping and QA/QC requirements to produce reliable and defensible analytical data.  Working knowledge of pertinent state and federal laws and rules and agricultural practices to understand the mission of the division. Knowledge, skills and ability to operate laboratory equipment, complex analytical instruments, and a variety of data acquisition/processing software.   Ability to evaluate analytical and statistical data.  Knowledge in interpretation and confirmation of analytical results, program QA/QC requirements and the ability to write laboratory reports to accomplish assigned duties.  Requires the ability to coordinate laboratory technician activities and establish good working relationships with co-workers and the public.    Minimum Qualifications (Education and Experience):College degree (Bachelor's) or equivalent (*) and 3 years job-related work experience (**).(*) analytical chemistry  (**)professional laboratory experience in analytical chemistry including computerized automated instruments, MS/MS techniques, and pesticide chemistry methods.   The agency will accept alternative methods of obtaining necessary qualifications to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.  QualificationsIf another department vacancy occurs in this job title within six months, the same applicant pool may be used for the selection.

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