Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

19-35. Ecological and climactic influences on human tick-borne illness


Closing Date: January 4, 2021

This Research Opportunity will be filled depending on the availability of funds. All application materials must be submitted through USAJobs by 11:59 pm, US Eastern Standard Time, on the closing date.

How to Apply

Apply Here

Vector-borne illnesses are a growing public health concern in the United States, acting as both an occupational and recreational hazard. Ticks, specifically, carry pathogens that cause a number of human illnesses, including Lyme disease, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, anaplasmosis, and tularemia. Recent CDC reporting has revealed an increase in cases of tick-borne bacterial and protozoan illness from 2004 to 2016, with Lyme disease accounting for 82% of all cases. Further, Lyme disease cases are likely underreported, with the actual number of cases estimated to be ~329,000, annually, and a general expectation for future increase in incidence and geographic expansion.

Workers compensation claims from resource managers may provide an unbiased data source for understanding the changing prevalence and geographic occurrence of Lyme disease cases within the US. There are more than 67,000 DOI employees across the United States with a subset in positions with high-risk of exposure to tick-borne illness (e.g., natural resource management positions). Our collaborative, inter-agency research team has access to human health data (workers compensation claims), ecological data, and tick survey data for several U.S. national parks. We seek a candidate to implement a One Health approach in the assessment of spatial and temporal trends in tick-borne illness in DOI employees, with focus on Lyme disease. We propose two research avenues that the candidate may investigate and expand upon:

  • Investigate the impact of current management strategies on tick-borne disease risk. What is the impact of large mammal management on tick disease prevalence and human Lyme disease incidence? Using parks data with varying deer management strategies, the candidate may compare efficacy of each strategy, using Lyme disease cases as a proxy for success.
  • Predicting spatial and temporal trends in tick abundance and tick-borne disease incidence. The candidate may use modelling techniques to assess factors influencing tickborne illness case incidence and predict areas of future risk using a One Health framework. The candidate may investigate the impact of future climate change on regional human disease risk. A potential product of this research would be a risk alert system to be deployed by the National Park Service (or other natural resource managers) to inform employees and visitors of daily (or weekly) risk.

The candidate will not be limited to these questions and may use the data streams described to investigate the aforementioned or to develop research avenues of their own interest. Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the Research Advisor(s) early in the application process to discuss project ideas.

Proposed Duty Station: Bozeman, MT

Areas of PhD: Biology, ecology, vector-borne disease, wildlife disease, or related fields (candidates holding a Ph.D. in other disciplines, but with extensive knowledge and skills relevant to the Research Opportunity may be considered).

Qualifications: Applicants must meet the qualifications for: Research Ecologist

(This type of research is performed by those who have backgrounds for the occupations stated above.  However, other titles may be applicable depending on the applicant's background, education, and research proposal. The final classification of the position will be made by the Human Resources specialist.)

Human Resources Office Contact: Kimberly Sales, 703-648-7478,

Apply Here