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*Applications may be reviewed on a rolling-basis and this posting could close before the deadline. Click here for information about the selection process.

EPA Office/Lab and LocationA postgraduate research training opportunity is available at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA), Office of Water in Washington, DC. The opportunity will be served with the Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds (OWOW).

The selected candidate will be at the Monitoring and Analysis Branch and will support activities related to the National Aquatic Resource Survey (NARS) program which addresses coastal waters, lakes, rivers/streams and wetlands. NARS is a statistically based survey designed to characterize the ecological and recreational condition of the nation’s waters. NARS is implemented through an EPA, state and tribal partnership and is a key activity in EPA’s efforts to achieve national water-quality goals under the Clean Water Act.

Research Project: This research project will provide an opportunity to learn about EPA’s efforts to monitor and assess aquatic resources across the United States via large-scale, statistically-based studies. The selected participant will support scientific research activities related to indicators of ecological/recreational significance including developing and implementing processes for improving data quality, accessibility, and transparency.

Specific areas of focus may include:

  • Analyzing NARS data and presenting results to EPA, state, federal and tribal partners,
  • Learning techniques to compile and perform quality assurance of indicator data collected in NARS including  development and application of R scripts and other tools,
  • Developing tools for analyzing; visualizing; and transferring data, analytical approaches, and results
  • Researching potential indicators (e.g., diatoms, periphyton metagenomic, phytoplankton, zooplankton, harmful algal blooms)

Learning Objectives: This will provide an opportunity to gain an understanding of EPA’s Clean Water Act programs and observe how EPA coordinates with states, tribes, and other federal agencies to meet national water quality goals. The participant will have access to interact with resource managers and scientists from other agencies and across the country. Under the guidance of a mentor, the participant will generate reports, analyze data, create outreach materials, and have opportunities to submit and present research and project results to interagency groups, professional societies and conferences, and scientific publications. This project supports increased knowledge and experience in:

  • Principles and practices used in statistically-based analysis of condition data.
  • Using various data and spatial analysis tools (including GIS, python, and R statistical software).
  • Collaborating with a broad and diverse group of partners to accomplish water-quality assessment objectives.
  • Communicating results
Mentor(s): The mentor for questions about this opportunity is Richard Mitchell ( If you have questions about the nature of the research please contact the mentor(s) directly.
Anticipated Appointment Start Date: Winter 2021. All start dates are flexible and vary depending on numerous factors. Click here for detailed information about start dates.

Appointment Length: The appointment will initially be for one year and may be renewed up to three additional years upon EPA recommendation and subject to availability of funding.

Level of Participation: The appointment is full-time.

Participant StipendThe participant will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience. At this time, the annual stipend for master’s degree $60,000 and doctoral degree ~$72,000. Click here for detailed information about full-time stipends.

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

ORISE Information: This 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).

Questions: Please 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.