job-area: STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)

FBI Counterterrorism and Forensic Science Research Unit (CFSRU) Chemical Analysis of Primary Explosives

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Counterterrorism and Forensic Science Research Unit’s (CFSRU) provides technical leadership for the FBI as well as for other law enforcement and intelligence agencies through applied research and development.

What will I be doing?

This project involves the development of extraction and instrumental methods for the analysis of residues from detonators (primary explosives) used in criminal cases. There are currently no validated methods for the trace analysis of primary explosives. This project uses analytical techniques such as solvent extraction, elemental assays for heavy metals, ion and liquid chromatography, and mass spectrometry. You will be expanding your knowledge and experience using these and other techniques to further your educational pursuit.  Previous experience with ion chromatography, Thermo Electron Orbitrap mass spectrometers, and liquid chromatography are highly desired.   

As a participant with the Counterterrorism and Forensic Science Research Unit (CFSRU) Visiting Scientist Program (VSP), you will have an opportunity to enhance your professional development and increase your research capabilities and contributions by participating in forensic research initiatives utilizing state-of-the-art equipment under the mentorship of CFSRU scientists. The VSP will expose you to a research environment in a high security government facility and provides an opportunity to perform research in areas of interest unique to law enforcement and national security.

You may be involved in research including:

  • Detection of explosives
  • Characterization and comparison of forensic materials
  • Mass spectrometry applications to chemical analyses
  • Development of instrumental methods in ion and liquid chromatography

Under the guidance of a mentor, you may be involved in some or all of the following:

  • Conducting searches of scientific literature
  • Designing experimental plans
  • Conducting field tests
  • Performing analytical laboratory analyses
  • Analyzing instrumental data/ documenting results
  • Preparing and presenting research findings to diverse audiences, both orally and in writing

Why should I apply?  

Under the guidance of a mentor, you will perform sophisticated laboratory techniques using emerging technologies, judge the completeness and accuracy of research results, perform statistical analyses on data, and prepare written manuscripts for FBI review and publication in peer-reviewed journals.

Release of any information acquired during participation in this program is at the sole discretion of the FBI.

Where will I be located? 

Quantico, Virginia

Participant Benefits:

As a participant you will receive a stipend as support for your living and other expenses during this appointment. Stipend rates are determined by the CFSRU officials and are based on your academic and professional background. Relocation expenses, not to exceed $1,000, incurred in relocating from your current address to Quantico, Virginia (if more than 50 miles from the address shown on the application), may be reimbursed for Post-Doctoral appointments. You will receive a travel allowance of $5,000 per appointment year to cover travel-related expenses to scientific and professional development activities. The initial appointment can be up to one year but may be renewed upon recommendation of FBI contingent on the availability of funds.

This opportunity is available to U.S. citizens.

For more information about the Visiting Scientist Program, please visit

Nature of Appointment

The participant will not enter into an employee/employer relationship with ORISE, ORAU, DOE, FBI, CFSRU, or any other office or agency.  Instead, the participant will be affiliated with ORISE for the administration of the appointment through the ORISE letter of appointment and Terms of Appointment.

Participation Eligibility:

An ideal candidate for this appointment will have an academic background and relevant professional experience in a field related to the agency’s mission and must be seeking to gain knowledge/experience in forensic science applications of scientific techniques.  Relevant professional experience may include, but is not limited to:

  • Analytical chemistry and analytical method development
  • Statistical analysis applied to design of experiments, chemistry, and physical sciences

You must meet the following criteria to participate in the program:

  • Be a U.S. Citizen
  • Have completed requirements for a Bachelor’s, Master, or PhD within the last 5 years or complete all the requirements for the degree by the anticipated start date of the appointment. If more than five years since receipt of degree, the applicant must have an academic background and experience in a relevant field and must be seeking to gain new knowledge/experience in order to expand career opportunities or to advance professionally. 
  • Undergo an extensive FBI background investigation and meet suitability criteria.

Program Website:

Students may apply for the program, but selected applicants will need to have completed their degree before their start date.