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EPA Office/Lab and Location: A postgraduate research opportunity is currently available at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region 9 Water Division located in San Francisco, California. This research opportunity is with the Watersheds Section in the Tribal and State Assistance Branch.
Research Project: EPA manages a competitive grant program to support projects to protect and restore San Francisco Bay. This grant program, the San Francisco Bay Water Quality Improvement Fund (SFBWQIF) began in 2008. The SFBWQIF has invested over $63.5 million in 54 grant awards. These projects include over 80 partners who are contributing an additional $174 million to restore wetlands, watersheds, and reduce polluted runoff. With additional resources that will expand the scope of the grant program, EPA will broaden its investments to ensure that San Francisco Bay ecosystems and communities remain resilient in the face of climate change stressors. With funded projects often being implemented over a 5-7 year time frame, there are opportunities to work with current grantees and better analyze their project monitoring data to inform EPA of expected environmental outcomes.
The SFBWQIF priorities are to support projects that enhance aquatic habitat, restore impaired waters, and reduce polluted runoff. Consistent with program priorities, projects are tracked in three categories: restoring wetlands, restoring water quality, and greening development (e.g., Low Impact Development).
The SFBWQIF program is authorized under Clean Water Act Section 320 and is consistent with the San Francisco Estuary Partnership’s (Partnership’s) Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP), also known as the Estuary Blueprint. The Partnership’s work is guided by the implementation of the Estuary Blueprint, a collective vision for the Estuary’s future that is updated every five years. The Blueprint seeks to achieve four primary goals:
1. Sustain and improve the Estuary’s habitats and living resources;
2. Bolster the resilience of Estuary ecosystems, shoreline and communities to climate change;
3. Improve water quality and increase the quantity of freshwater available to the Estuary; and
4. Champion the Estuary.
The selected participant will conduct research focused on improving data access, analysis, and communication related to San Francisco Bay environmental (water and habitat quality) and program implementation tracking data. The project will have three focus areas: 1) Assist in developing and implementing an implementation tracking system for EPA’s San Francisco Bay Program; 2) Assist in gathering, analyzing, and reporting data on San Francisco Bay environmental indicators, and 3) Assist in gathering and analyzing data to evaluate progress in meeting San Francisco Estuary Partnership’s Estuary Blueprint goals.
Learning Objectives: Under the guidance of a mentor, the participant will gain an understanding of EPA’s estuary management programs and have an opportunity to develop research projects to support EPA’s role in working with federal, state, and local governments, academic institutions, environmental organizations, and the general public on San Francisco Bay and Estuary management. The participant will learn first-hand about the interaction between the various levels of government and the private sector on these issues. This project will provide excellent exposure to a broad range of scientific, technical, and policy issues pertaining to water quality protection, habitat protection and restoration, climate resiliency, community sustainability, and public involvement and education. The participant will be involved in groups with colleagues from different organizations and skill sets, collaborate on assessing management and communication needs, research regional and national approaches, and evaluate them.
Appointment Length: The appointment may 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 Stipend: The participant will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience. At this time the annual stipend for master’s degree ~$68,000/year. A travel allowance will be provided for pertinent conferences, meetings, and/or trainings, with approval of the project coordinator or mentor.
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).