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Student Sucess Story - Ricardo Joseph
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Student Profile


Name                        Ricardo Joseph

Degree                     B.S.

Major                        Chemistry

University               FloridaInternationalUniversity

Graduation             Spring 09

Job Title                   Physical Science Aid

Program                   Agronomy

Dates                        05/06 - 09/07

Agency                     Agricultural Research Service

Division        Subtropical Horticulture Research Station

Location                   Miami, FL


USDA Experience Questionnaire


1.       What do you do at USDA?

As a physical science aid, I worked in the lab (analyzed soil and water samples, plant tissues,  and performed data analysis) and in the field and greenhouse (prepared vermiculite pot substrates to grow ornamental plants and sods, set up field for endosulfan study, measured soil respiration and chlorophyll in plant leaves, monitored weather station). I also worked on a project with my supervisor on the effects of endosulfan on soil respiration.

2.       What is a typical day like at USDA?

No two days were exactly alike there. We had specific assignments for each day whether we had to work in the field, the lab or in both. The only thing that was consistent was our lunch breaks: we used to eat lunch off station to get away from the work atmosphere. I learned a lot during my days there.


3.       What is your favorite thing about working at USDA?

It was a great learning experience. I had hands-on training with many instruments and the opportunity to work on my first personal project. My supervisor was a great teacher and critic; I learned so much from working with him. Over all, it's great working and learning environment, an unforgettable experience.


4.       What is most challenging about your job?

I enjoyed every bit of my time at the USDA. Unlike in school, I felt so involved and useful every second I spent working there. The most challenging part of my job was trying to keep up with my supervisor's expectations. Since I was always treated more or less like a colleague rather than an irresponsible intern, I had no choice but to perform like one: everything had to be done precisely and to standards. Over time I learned to be more discipline, responsible and confident in everything I did. I learned about the scientific method in school but I experienced it when I worked there.


5.       What is the best experience you've had while working at USDA?

I had the opportunity to travel to New Orleans with my supervisor to present a poster at the American Society of Agronomy Meetings (11/2007). It was a great feeling to get to share my work at an international event.