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Research Project Description

Comprehensive Environmental Assessment (CEA)
Research Participation Program
Office of Research and Development
National Center for Environmental Assessment
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Research Triangle Park, NC


Project Description:

A postgraduate or postdoctoral research project training opportunity is currently available at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Center for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) in Research Triangle Park (RTP), North Carolina.

NCEA is a leader in the science of human health and ecological risk assessment, a process used to determine how pollutants or other stressors may impact human health and the environment. The center occupies a critical position in EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) between researchers in other parts of ORD and outside of EPA who are generating new findings and data, and the regulators in EPA’s program and regional offices who must make regulatory, enforcement, and remedial action decisions.  For more information, visit:

This is an interdisciplinary project that will require collaboration with a multidisciplinary team of risk assessors to develop decision analysis and decision support methods for EPA’s ongoing Comprehensive Environmental Assessment (CEA) Program.

The participant will be involved with scientific staff at NCEA-RTP in the development and incorporation of decision analysis methods into CEA, as well as the review and evaluation of existing scientific information to further refine the CEA approach and apply it to a chemical(s) of interest to EPA program offices.

The participant may be engaged in one or more of the following training opportunities: 

  • developing and applying decision-analytic or decision-support techniques to identify and prioritize research gaps and/or risk-related trade-offs to support assessment and risk management efforts for chemicals or materials of interest to EPA;
  • reviewing scientific literature and developing written or graphical syntheses of relevant information
  • identifying and implementing ways to refine decision-analytic or decision-support approaches developed for the CEA approach

The CEA approach utilizes a framework to structure information for a selected chemical(s) related to the product life cycle, environmental transport and fate processes, exposure-dose in receptors (i.e., humans, ecological populations, and the environment), as well as impacts in these receptors. Information in the framework provides a starting point for identifying and prioritizing research gaps or risk-related trade-offs by a group of expert stakeholders representing diverse  technical backgrounds (e.g., toxicology, atmospheric chemistry, life cycle analysis) and sector perspectives (i.e., academia, industry, government, non-government organizations). Evaluations are conducted using decision support or decision analytic methods to reach a collective judgment about priority research gaps or risk-related trade-offs that can subsequently inform decisions on developing research agendas, assessments, or risk management actions.

The participant will benefit by learning the CEA approach, learning how risk and meta-assessments are conducted, and how to apply decision analysis to human and environmental health risk assessment and management.


Applicants must have received a master’s or doctoral degree in decision science within five years of the desired starting date, or completion of all requirements for the degree should be expected prior to the starting date. Knowledge in the areas of decision analysis, environmental risk uncertainty, resource management and environmental studies, environmental modeling, or risk assessment is desired.

The program is open to all qualified individuals without regard to race, sex, religion, color, age, physical or mental disability, national origin, or status as a Vietnam era or disabled veteran. U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent resident status is preferred (but can also hold an appropriate visa status, however, an H1B visa is not appropriate). The participant must provide proof of medical insurance. The participant does not become an EPA employee. 

The appointment will be full time for one year and may be renewed for up to two additional years upon recommendation of EPA and subject to availability of funds. The participant will receive a monthly stipend. 

Funding may be made available to reimburse a research participant's travel expenses to present the results of his/her research at scientific conferences. No funding will be made available to cover travel costs for pre-appointment visits, relocation costs, tuition or fees, or a participant's health insurance.

Technical Questions:

Christy Powers is the mentor for this project. She can be contacted at

How to Apply:

The Research Participation Program for EPA is administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education. Please reference Project # EPA-ORD/NCEA-2012-01 when calling or writing for information. For additional information and application materials contact: Research Participation Program/EPA-ORD, Attn: Betty Bowling, Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, P.O. Box 117, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37831-0117, Phone: (865) 576-8503 FAX: (865) 241-5219 e-mail: 

An application can be found at