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Microplastics Research Scientist

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The EPA National Student Services Contract has an immediate opening for a full-time contractor position; Microplastics Research Scientist with the Office of Research and Development at the EPA facility in Athens, GA. 

Salary: $29.27 per hour.

Travel: Occasional overnight travel may be required.

Required Skills:
  • Demonstrated education and/or experience in environmental chemistry, microbiology and/or analytical chemistry;
  • A working knowledge of gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy; Raman spectroscopy, and thermogravimetric analysis;
  • A working knowledge of isolation and measurement of microplastics in water and sediments in aquatic environments and/or
  • A working knowledge of isolation and measurement of organic, metallic and/or metal-organic polymers and polymer composites in water and sediments in aquatic environments;
  • A working knowledge of equipment and procedures used to obtain data on weathering of polymers and/or microplastics in environmental systems including isolation of weathered polymers and identification using mass spectral and spectroscopic techniques;
  • A working knowledge of obtaining data and developing relationships that can be used to assess the transformation of nanomaterials and their composites with polymers in environmental systems including releases of nanomaterials;
  • A working knowledge of obtaining data and developing relationships that can be used to assess the photoinactivation of pathogen indicators in water and sediments including isolation from water and sediments;
  • Excellent oral, written, and electronic communication skills; and
  • Experience with common computer operation and software usage (e.g., Microsoft Office Professional Suite, including Excel, Word and PowerPoint.) is required.

  • Be at least 18 years of age and
  • Have earned at least a Master’s degree in Chemistry, Microbiology, Ecology, Environmental Health Science, Toxicology, Biological Science, Biochemistry, or related disciplines from an accredited university or college within the last 24 months and
  • Be a citizen of the United States of America or a Legal Permanent Resident.

EPA ORD employees, their spouses, and children are not eligible to participate in this program.

What the EPA project is about

Within ORD, the Center for Environmental Measurement & Modeling (CEMM) conducts research to advance EPA’s ability to measure and model contaminants in the environment, including research to provide fundamental methods and models needed to implement environmental statutes. The methods and models developed by CEMM are typically applied at the airshed, watershed and ecosystem level. Within CEMM, the Watershed and Ecosystem Characterization Division (WECD) conducts research to advance EPA’s ability to characterize the presence, transport, transformation, sources, and impacts of contaminants in watersheds and ecological systems.

Progress towards characterizing microplastics and pathogen indicators in the environment and uncertainties about their potential environmental health effects requires reliable and consistent methods. The Safe and Sustainable Water Research (SSWR) program of ORD is conducting research to develop and standardize collection, extraction, identification and quantification methods for microplastics (MPs) and the inactivation of pathogen indicators such as coliphages This research is using methods for isolating, concentrating, characterizing and quantifying MPs from aquatic media in different size ranges. The work detects and characterizes MPs using UV-visible, FTIR, Raman spectroscopy, ICP-MS, thermogravimetric and pyrolysis/GC-MS analysis and analytical ultracentrifugation. Work on the pathogen indicators involves development of biological weighting functions that describe their photoinactivation in the aquatic environment. The research is developing methods that minimize interferences to these methods by common constituents in natural waters such as dissolved organic matter and suspended sediments. Results from studies conducted under this task will be used in conjunction with other related studies to determine exposure of humans and ecosystems to chemical and biological contaminants from point and nonpoint sources in aquatic environments.

This is an excellent opportunity for a recent Master’s graduate to collaborate with EPA’s research team. Research experience includes:
  • Providing technical support;
  • Conducting laboratory studies;
  • Obtaining data; and
  • Networking and exploring many career paths at EPA.
Interested in this research opportunity? If so, follow the link below to apply. Questions? Email