Small Communities to Assess Sustainability and Climate Resiliency
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Reference Code
How to Apply

A complete application consists of:

All documents must be in English or include an official English translation.

If you have questions, send an email to Please include the reference code for this opportunity in your email.


A research opportunity is currently available at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Research and Development (ORD)/National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (NHEERL). This appointment will be served with the Western Ecology Division (WED) in Seattle, WA, and Corvallis, OR.

The goal of this research is to develop tools and datasets which will allow small communities to enhance their sustainability and climate resilience. Small (in range of 30,000 to 60,000 population or less) communities face many issues in terms of the environment and economics, but often have limited staff time and access to data, even when tools are available. Thus, compared to larger cities with greater visibility and more resources which allow them to develop unique sustainability plans, smaller communities would benefit from a readily accessible framework which would allow them to evaluate sustainability with available resources.

This research project will explore the use of Human Well Being Index (HWBI), and Final Ecosystem Goods and Services Survey and Reporting Tool (FEGSSRT) and other EPA community decision support tools in engaging communities, providing information about their environments, conducting community assessments, and in affecting decision making. The research project will include evaluating the utility of these tools, identifying how it was used, and the impact of its use on community perception and environmental quality. The research project will include development of a conceptual “dashboard” to illustrate the output of these tools to communities. 

The research participant could be involved in the following activities:

  • collaborating with a team to assist small communities in their assessment of sustainability and climate resiliency.  
  • evaluating of current sustainability and climate resiliency efforts and needs of cooperating cities such as Bremerton, WA.
  • identifying key metrics of sustainability and climate resiliency.  
  • Identifying and evaluating of existing assessment tools, with particular focus on those developed by ORD to address those metrics.
  • conducting user experience research on selected topics and tools.
  • collecting data for use with assessment tools.  
  • preparing an interim report on process to evaluate sustainability and climate resiliency by small cities, ability of current models and data to address needs of cooperating cities, and format for a dashboard or other procedure to summarize tool outputs for a community.

This program, administered by ORAU through its contract with the U.S. Department of Energy to manage the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, was established through an interagency agreement between DOE and EPA.


Applicants must be currently enrolled pursuing a bachelor's degree in public health, environmental health, environmental science, geographic information systems, or a closely related discipline at an accredited U.S. college or university. Proof of enrollment will be required each semester.

The appointment is part time (50% of full time) for one year and may be renewed upon recommendation of EPA and contingent on the availability of funds. The participant will receive a monthly stipend. Funding may be made available to reimburse the participant’s travel expenses to present the results of his/her research at scientific conferences and stakeholder venues. No funding will be made available to cover travel costs for pre-appointment visits, relocation costs, tuition and fees, or participant’s health insurance. The participant must show proof of health and medical insurance. The participant does not become an EPA employee.

The mentors for this project are Karen Chu and David Olszyk ( The desired start date for this appointment is June 20, 2016.

Eligibility Requirements
  • Degree: Currently pursuing a Bachelor's Degree.
  • Academic Level(s): Undergraduate Students.
  • Discipline(s):
    • Earth and Geosciences (1 )
    • Environmental and Marine Sciences (2 )
    • Life Health and Medical Sciences (2 )

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