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The Transportation Security Laboratory (TSL) Visiting Scientist Program is designed to allow students and researchers across multiple disciplines and academic levels the opportunity for research training and education on U.S. Department of Homeland Security mission-relevant science and technology at a one-of-a kind federal research laboratory.

What will I be doing?

As a participant in the Transportation Security Laboratory (TSL) Visiting Scientist Program, you will gain hands-on experience conducting research at a one-of-a-kind federal research laboratory.  You will enhance your academic and professional preparation to pursue a career in disciplines that support the U.S. Department of Homeland Security mission and have access to unique facilities and subject matter experts. Your appointment will take place in a TSL division, dependent on your academic and career interests and available opportunities at the time of application:

  • Bulk Detection Laboratory
  • Energetic Materials Research Laboratory
  • Electromagnetic Signatures of Explosives Laboratory
  • Stimulant Development Laboratory
  • Trace Contraband Detection and Chemistry Laboratory

What types of appointments are available?

The TSL Visiting Scientist Program offers a variety of opportunities for students and researchers, including

  • Summer Internships (typically 2 to 3 month appointments between May and September)
  • Postgraduate Fellowships (typically 12 months with possible extensions)

Opportunities are open to applicants who are currently pursuing or have completed a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral degree. Visit current opportunities to learn more about what is available, including for eligibility and specific application requirements.

Why should I apply?

In addition to the individualized research opportunities provided in each internship or fellowship, you will join a team of more than 100 employees that include physicists, chemists, engineers and mathematicians who are leaders in explosives detection and mitigation. You will also have access to a unique 12-acre secure campus specialized for explosive storage and handling areas and a multi-laboratory infrastructure designed for applied research, testing, and evaluation.

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  • Increase your marketability in technologies for bulk detection, energetic materials research, electromagnetic signatures, stimulant development, trace contraband detection, and more.

  • Learn the inner workings of federal agencies in your field and network with top scientists and researchers.

  • Gain insight into research and career opportunities while utilizing state-of-the-art equipment to accomplish research goals.

Learn more about the different laboratory environments at TSL

Lab Information

Appointment Details

  • Eligibility

    In order to qualify for a Transportation Security Laboratory (TSL) Visiting Scientist Program internship or fellowship, you must meet all outlined criteria for eligibility. Read more to learn about eligibility requirements.

    To be considered for any opportunity with TSL, you must

    • Be a U.S. Citizen at the time of application
    • Be currently pursuing, have received or expect to complete all requirements for a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral degree by the anticipated start date.

    Eligibility requirements will vary depending on the opportunity. See current opportunities for more information on specific eligibility requirements.

  • Application Selection

    Applications will be reviewed for eligibility and compliance before moving forward to the merit review and final selection.

    Application reviews are based on application completeness, scientific and/or technical merit, and relevance to TSL priorities. Criteria includes:

    • Academic performance
    • Potential for success in research
    • Background, skills and experience relevant to the opportunity

    Eligible applications will receive a review by subject matter experts at TSL. The review process may include phone and/or in-person interviews with potential candidates. TSL makes final selections and notifies ORISE. ORISE will notify the applicants of the selection decisions.

  • Timeline

    Timeline information for appointments

    For 12-month appointments (including Postgraduate fellowships the Transportation Security Laboratory (TSL) Visiting Scientist Program does not have application deadlines; applications are accepted until the opportunity is filled. 

    For summer internships, the application deadline can be found under the active opportunity. The application period for summer internships is typically from November to February with selections in March/Early April.



  • Appointment Information

    Appointments will be administered by ORISE. This section outlines typical benefits you will receive as part of the Transportation Security Laboratory (TSL) Visiting Scientist Program.

    As an intern or fellow in the TSL Visiting Scientist Program, you will receive a stipend as support for your living and other expenses during the appointment. Stipend rates are determined by TSL officials and are based on your academic and professional background, as well as the type of appointment (e.g., fellowship, summer internship).

    You may also be eligible to receive one or more of the following, depending on the type of appointment:

    • Health Insurance Allowance
    • Relocation Allowance if you are located more than 50 miles one way from the facility.
    • Housing Allowance
    • Travel/Training Allowance for travel-related expenses to scientific and professional development activities. Travel may include domestic and foreign travel to professional development experiences, scientific/technical research conferences and professional meetings and other activities

    On-site interview travel reimbursement for prospective candidates may also be offered.

    Appointment Period:  Postgraduate fellowships are for a year with the option to extend the appointment for additional years. Extensions are contingent upon project needs and funding availability. The maximum time a participant can remain in the ORISE program is five years from his/her initial start date. Summer internships are typically for two to three months between May and September.

    Security Clearance: Appointments are contingent on the participant’s receipt of the necessary security clearance to access assigned research facilities. You must have or be eligible to obtain and maintain a security clearance for the duration of your appointment. If you are selected for an appointment, a TSL representative will coordinate with you on security clearance requirements.

  • Conditions of the Appointment

    Information on commitment, health insurance, deliverables, and policies of the Transportation Security Laboratory (TSL) Visiting Scientist Program.

    • Appointments typically involve a full-time commitment to the assigned research project at TSL or at designated collaborating institutions as deemed necessary by TSL scientific staff. There may also be opportunities for part-time research appointments.
    • Participants must avoid obligations that will interrupt their research during their tenure. The participant’s research must be conducted in a manner and according to a time schedule that meets the overall research needs of TSL.
    • As guest researchers, participants are expected to conform to all TSL facility policies relevant to his/her status.
    • Participants will not be expected to perform activities that are reserved for federal employees; to supervise, mentor, hire or fire anyone; have budget, program management, or signature authority; carry an official job title; or function in any way as a representative of the federal government.
    • Participants will become administratively associated with Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) through a letter of appointment and Terms of Appointment. Participants will be required to sign and abide by the appointment letter, the Terms of Appointment, and other documents required by TSL.
    • Participants are required to have health insurance on the first day of the appointment and throughout the duration of the program. Participants may not be present at TSL facilities if their insurance coverage lapses. 
    • Participants are expected to perform professionally, demonstrate integrity and good judgment, and complete all research project deliverables as identified in letter of appointment and by the hosting facility.

    Deliverables: Participants are required to write a final report about their experience and complete an online feedback survey to help assess the effectiveness of the program.

  • Nature of Appointment

    This program is administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE).

    ORISE is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) asset managed by Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) through a contract between ORAU and DOE. You will be considered a program participant and will not enter into an employee/employer relationship with DHS, TSL, ORISE, ORAU, DOE, or other hosting facility.

Application Components


Your application should consist of the following components:

  • Zintellect profile
  • Essay Questions - The application includes questions specific to the opportunity.
  • Academic Records - An unofficial transcript or copy of your academic records provided by the applicant or by academic advisors from internal institution systems may be submitted. An official transcript and/or academic records may be required if selected for an appointment.
  • Current Resume/CV
  • A minimum of One (1) Recommendation - Applicants are required to provide contact information for at least one recommendation in order to submit the application. You are encouraged to request a recommendation from a professional who can speak to your abilities and potential for success as well as your scientific capabilities and personal characteristics. Recommendation requests must be sent through the Zintellect application system. Recommenders will be asked to complete a recommendation in Zintellect. Letters of recommendation submitted via email will not be accepted. Additional recommendations may be required depending on the specific opportunity.
  • Submitted documents must have all social security numbers, student identification numbers, and/or dates of birth removed (blanked out, blackened out, made illegible, etc.) prior to uploading into the application system. All documents must be in English or include an official English translation.

Additional application components may be required for certain opportunities. Refer to the Zintellect catalog to review current opportunities and apply today!

Frequently Asked Questions

This section includes frequently asked questions about the Transportation Security Laboratory (TSL) Visiting Scientist Program.

  • For 12-month appointments (including Postgraduate fellowships), the Transportation Security Laboratory (TSL) Visiting Scientist Program does NOT have application deadlines; applications are accepted until the opportunity is filled.

    For summer internships, the application deadline can be found under the current active opportunity. The application period for summer internships is typically from November to February with selections in March/Early April.

  • Yes, you must be a U.S. citizen at the time of application to participate in the program.

  • Application reviews are based on application completeness, scientific and/or technical merit, and relevance to TSL priorities. Eligible applications will receive a review by subject matter experts at TSL. The review process may include phone and/or in-person interviews with potential candidates. TSL makes final selections and notifies ORISE. ORISE will notify the applicants of the selection decisions.

  • Postgraduate fellowships are for a year with the option to extend the appointment for additional years. Extensions are contingent upon project needs and funding availability. The maximum time a participant can remain in the ORISE program is five years from his/her initial start date.

    Summer internships are typically for two to three months between May and September.

  • TSL helps protect our nation’s civilian air transportation systems. By virtue of its accomplished experts, cutting-edge facilities and partnerships, TSL offers the homeland security community and transportation security partners the ability to advance detection technology from conception to deployment through applied research, test and evaluation, assessment, certification and qualification testing.

    Learn more about TSL Laboratories and their specific research priorities, visit the TSL Laboratories Page.

    For additional information about TSL, visit: https://www.dhs.gov/science-and-technology/transportation-security-laboratory

    For additional information about DHS, visit: https://www.dhs.gov/about-dhs

  • Please ensure that all of the necessary application materials have been received and that you have the necessary educational qualifications for the opportunity. Successful applicants will provide application information that is well thought out and clearly aligns with DHS TSL areas of importance as well as a strong connection to the topic areas for the opportunity.

  • For most TSL Visiting Scientist appointments, one (1) recommendation is required. You should obtain your  recommendation from a person who is familiar with your educational and professional qualifications.

  • Most TSL Visiting Scientist appointments offer limited reimbursement for relocation expenses, if your address is outside a radius of 50 miles one way from your appointment location. Review current opportunities to determine specific benefits for that appointment.

  • Reasonable accommodations can be made if you intend to travel prior to the start of your appointment. These are handled on a case by case basis.

  • We do not advise you to do this. Doing so may result in non-reimbursable expenses. Your appointment is not official until you formally accept the appointment offer.

  • You may apply for and be eligible to participate in different ORISE programs.

Participant Experiences

  • Alicia Johnston

    Alicia Johnston loads samples on the gas chromatography instrument that quantifies the amount of explosives in the sample as part of her research as a participant in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Laboratory Visiting Scientist Program administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education. Johnston’s research entails performing solvent extraction in order to remove explosive residue from shoes that are used as mock improvised explosive devices.

    —Alicia Johnston
    Read More
  • Ilana Goldberg

    Postdoctoral fellow Ilana Goldberg, in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Transportation Security Laboratory Visiting Scientist Program, puts a homemade explosive mixture into the differential scanning calorimeter. This instrument measures and controls heat flow in to and out of the sample. Goldberg’s goal is to better understand the thermal properties of these explosive mixtures to aid in stability predictions.

    —Ilana Goldberg
    Read More
  • Garrett Angus

    As part of the Department of Homeland Security Transportation Security Laboratory Visiting Scientist Program, Garrett Angus tests explosive simulants as he works along experts who are striving to better detect the threat of improvised explosive devices.

    —Garrett Angus
    Read More
  • Melissa Sweat

    Melissa Sweat conducted research pertaining to the development of an algorithm to digitally isolate and characterize explosive particles found in fingerprint residues. Sweat’s research focused on understanding the characteristics of trace explosive particles on fingerprints from various surfaces.

    —Melissa Sweat
    Read More

Stay connected with the all-new ORISE GO app!

The all-new ORISE GO mobile app helps you stay engaged, connected and informed during your ORISE experience and beyond. Use ORISE GO to search and apply for opportunities, learn about exclusive ORISE events, manage applications, accept offers, and more. Visit the ORISE GO page for more info on how to download the app to your mobile device.

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Questions? Contact Us

General Questions/Information

DHSed@orau.org

Jennifer Burnette
Project Manager

Holly Bizoe
Program Specialist