Aquatic Ecosystem Specialist at EPA (Part-time)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Reference Code

The EPA Environmental Research and Business Support Program has an immediate opening for a part-time (30 hours per week) Aquatic Ecosystem Specialist with the Office of Research and Development at the EPA facility in Narragansett, Rhode Island.

The National Health and Environmental Research Laboratory (NHEERL), Atlantic Ecology Division at Narragansett, RI Office of Research and Development (ORD) at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for conducting studies that evaluate the environmental health of aquatic ecosystems.  A new threat to these ecosystems may be nanomaterials and contaminants of emerging concern (CEC).   These include pharmaceuticals, veterinary medicines, personal care products and nanomaterials.   The ORD is actively researching improved methods for detecting and monitoring CECs in the environment and will develop rapid screening methods for the materials. In addition, ORD is researching the effects of CECs (and their byproducts) to organisms including the uptake, transport, and bioaccumulation of these materials.  Data gaps abound for both fate and effects of CECs.  Although the current state of the science surrounding these contaminants is fluid, it is clear the potential for CECs to become ubiquitous in our environment is increasing. This research will involve experiments designed to elucidate the fate and effects of CECs in the environment including development of analytical methods for detection/measurement, toxicity, bioaccumulation, sublethal endpoints and ecological effects.  The selected candidate shall be involved in all aspects of the research including designing and performing the studies in this project as well as the analysis of data, and preparation of reports and presentations.

The selected candidate shall be involved in all aspects of CEC research, specifically:

  • Aid in the development of analytical methods to detect CECs in sediments and process samples using those methods;
  • Perform existing, and develop new toxicity tests sensitive to CECs;
  • Perform bioaccumulation tests to determine the movement of CECs through marine food webs;
  • Assist in the analysis of data, and preparation of reports and presentations;
  • Maintain equipment, resources, and instrumentation within the analytical chemistry and toxicity testing laboratory to insure generation of high quality data;
  • Perform field work and be comfortable working in and around small boats.

Other generic activities include the following:

  • Assist U.S. EPA scientists in designing, implementing and maintaining records for laboratory experiments;
  • Organize and maintain the general laboratory;
  • Conduct (computerized) data entry, organizing and assisting in analysis, and report generation;
  • Search, retrieve and organize relevant scientific literature, and contribute to the development of scientific manuscripts;
  • Participate in safety and other training opportunities.

All activities shall be performed according to specification, either with laboratory operating procedures, information from the scientific literature, or instructions provided by their mentor. 

The selected candidate shall maintain careful and accurate records in a laboratory notebook and prepare electronic reports of the data in spreadsheets.  The notebook(s), spreadsheets and all other data produced under this PWS will be the property of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

This work will occur daily, including weekends and holidays, and is not expected to exceed 8 hours per day, nor 1600 hours per year.  The selected candidate’s schedule is flexible but generally expected to average 30 hours per week. He/she is expected to work with little direct supervision but will interact regularly with their mentor and other ORD scientists.

Location: This job will be located at EPA’s facility in Narragansett, Rhode Island.

Work Environment: Work will largely involve work in a laboratory setting with occasional field work.

Salary: Selected applicant will become a temporary employee of ORAU and will receive an hourly wage for hours worked at a rate of $21.90 per hour.

Hours: Part-time; up to 30 hours per week.

Travel: Occasional overnight travel may be required.

Expected Start Date: The position is part-time up to 30 hours per week expected to begin January 2017.  The selected applicant will be a temporary employee of ORAU working as a contractor to EPA. The initial contract period is through May 14, 2017, followed by three (3) additional 12 month option periods.

For more information, contact


Eligible applicants must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age, and
  • Have earned a recent (within the last 24 months) B.S. or B.A. in biology, chemistry, environmental science, toxicology, oceanography or a related environmental sciences field.
  • Be a US citizen or a Legal Permanent Resident.

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

Required Knowledge, Skills, Work Experience, and Education

The applicant shall:

  • Possess at least one year of chemistry courses (e.g., introductory and organic) with laboratories are necessary.
  • Have coursework in biology, environmental science, geology, and statistics.    
  • Demonstrate some general laboratory and field experience in the environmental sciences.  
  • Have experience working independently.
  • Have a willingness to engage in field work.
  • Be able to swim.
  • Have basic familiarity with small boats (or at least not be afraid of them).
  • Demonstrate willingness or interest to work in the laboratory sciences (as evidenced by letters of recommendation or successful internships). 
  • Have a familiarity with basic safety procedures in the laboratory.
  • Possess an experiential and academic background in environmental chemistry, biology, science or toxicology.

Desired Knowledge, Skills, Work Experience, and Education

It is desirable for the applicant to have experience working with analytical instrumentation and/or toxicity tests.

How to apply

  • Submit application and supporting documents by clicking on Apply Now button.
  • For more information, contact Do not contact EPA directly.


Eligibility Requirements
  • Citizenship: LPR or U.S. Citizen
  • Degree: Bachelor's Degree, Master's Degree, or Doctoral Degree received within the last 24 month(s).
  • Discipline(s):
    • Chemistry and Materials Sciences (12 )
    • Earth and Geosciences (21 )
    • Environmental and Marine Sciences (14 )
    • Life Health and Medical Sciences (45 )

I certify that I am at least 18 years of age; Have earned at least a Bachelor’s degree graduate in biology, chemistry, environmental science, toxicology, oceanography or a related field of study from an accredited university or college within the last 24 months; a citizen or a Legal Permanent Resident of the United States of America; and not a current employee of EPA ORD or the spouse or child of an EPA ORD employee.

ORAU is an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE AA M/F/Vet/Disability); visit the ORAU website for required employment notices.