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EPA Office/Lab and LocationA research training opportunity is available at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA), Office of Water (OW) in Washington, DC. The opportunity will be served with the Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds (OWOW), Partnership Programs Branch (PPB). At this time EPA does not have a 100% remote work option for ORISE participants. Telework up to 4 days per week is possible, but selected candidates for this position will be expected to relocate to Washington D.C. and report for work to the EPA Headquarters. 

The opportunity supports EPA’s mission to protect and restore U.S. water resources and habitats for the health and economic benefit of all citizens. PPB plays a critical role in OWOW and the national water program, serving as the focal point for the use of collaborative, stakeholder-driven approaches to help states achieve Clean Water Act goals. The core partnership programs managed by PPB are the Trash Free Waters Program (TFW), the Urban Waters Program (UW), and the National Estuary Program (NEP). These core programs are the facilitators of many successful partnerships to address water quality and other issues. PPB’s role to develop and support partnerships and facilitate action is supported by state and local governments, the business community, citizen groups, and many others. There is broad public recognition that collaborative planning and program development through partnership programs can foster innovation, reduce adversarial barriers, and achieve beneficial and measurable outcomes. The three water partnership programs are particularly focused on priority issues for EPA such as climate resiliency, environmental justice and water equity, and the impacts of excessive trash pollution on communities and ecosystems.

Research Project The research project will primarily address communications, policy, and technical issues related to the TFW program. Specific research topics will focus primarily on investigating environmentally- and cost-effective place-based project options with EPA Regional TFW programs to help prevent trash from entering waterways or capturing it once it is in waterways; researching and authoring several regular communications and outreach products to stakeholders to both convey what EPA is doing and what other organizations are doing on trash-related matters, as well as to provide related topical information; researching and implementing improvements to Trash Free Waters website; researching, developing and leading new outreach projects consistent with the program’s outreach strategy; contributing to developing and implementing projects and actions related to program priorities and statutory obligations; and assisting with technical product development.

Learning ObjectivesWith guidance and support from the mentor, Branch Chief, and other EPA staff members, the participant will learn about a wide range of issues related to both the TFW program and other EPA programs that perform related work. The participant also will have ample opportunity for participatory learning about the use of issue-based and geographically-based collaborative partnership programs that play critical roles in support of the agency’s mission to protect and restore the nation’s water resources. The participant will perform research that enhances their communication, analytical, and strategic planning skills. The participant will engage with a wide range of government and non-governmental stakeholders, gaining valuable and diverse perspectives and developing valuable skill sets for collaborative problem solving.


Anticipated Appointment Start Date: Fall 2022. All start dates are flexible and vary depending on numerous factors. Click here for detailed information about start dates.


MentorThe mentor(s) for this opportunity is Romell Nandi ( and the project coordinator is Cherisse Lewis ( If you have questions about the nature of the research please contact the mentor(s) or project coordinator.


Appointment LengthThe appointment initially may be for one year and may be renewed upon EPA recommendation and subject to availability of funding.

Level of ParticipationThe appointment is full-time.

Participant StipendThe participant will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience. The current yearly stipends for this opportunity are ~$61,947 (MS) and ~$74,950 (Ph.D.). Click here for detailed information about full-time stipends.

EPA Security ClearanceCompletion of a successful background investigation by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is required for an applicant to be on-boarded at EPA.

ORISE InformationThis program, administered by ORAU through its contract with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to manage the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), was established through an interagency agreement between DOE and EPA. Participants do not become employees of EPA, DOE or the program administrator, and there are no employment-related benefits. Proof of health insurance is required for participation in this program. Health insurance can be obtained through ORISE.

ORISE offers all ORISE EPA graduate students and Postdocs a free 5 year membership to the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA).

The successful applicant(s) will be required to comply with Environmental, Safety and Health (ES&H) requirements of the hosting facility, including but not limited to, COVID-19 requirements (e.g. facial covering, physical distancing, testing, vaccination).

QuestionsPlease see the FAQ section of our website. After reading, if you have additional questions about the application process please email and include the reference code for this opportunity.


The qualified candidate should be currently pursuing or have received a master’s or doctoral degree in one of the relevant fields. Degree must have been received within the past five years.

Preferred Skills:

  • Experience working on trash-related place-based projects, policy, and/or research; communications/outreach.
  • Strong written and oral communication skills, and the ability to comfortably interact with internal and external stakeholders from a wide variety of programs, offices, and groups.
  • Strong analytical skills in program planning, public policy, and technical aspects of environmental issues.
  • Experience with Web Content Management Systems, graphic design tools (ex/ Canva) and GIS are all a plus, though not mandatory.