Research Project Description
Environmental Analytical Chemistry and Effects-based Surveillance and Monitoring of Chemicals in Aqu
Research Participation Program
Office of Research and Development
National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
A postgraduate/postdoctoral research project training opportunity is currently available at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (NHEERL), Mid-Continent Ecology Division (MED) in Duluth, Minnesota. MED provides research leadership in ecotoxicology and freshwater ecology within the Environmental Protection Agency.
To date, monitoring of chemicals in the environment has largely relied on environmental analytical chemistry focused on well studied “legacy chemicals” whose hazards are well understood. However, in recent years there has been growing demand for effective methods for evaluating risks associated with exposure to contaminants of emerging concern (CECs).
To address the challenges presented by CECs, there has been increasing demand to employ integrated approaches that combine strengths of analytical chemistry for identifying and quantifying specific chemicals with biological analyses that can characterize the integrated effects of the entire composition of a mixture (known and unknown) and help link exposure with biological hazard. The participant will be engaged in research aimed at employing such integrated approaches to detect the presence of hazardous CECs in aquatic environments, such as the Great Lakes, characterize their spatial and temporal distribution in aquatic environments, identify source, and/or evaluate the effectiveness of remediation, restoration, or other corrective management actions for reducing exposure and/or hazard. S/he will be trained in integrated approaches for surveillance and monitoring of hazardous organic chemicals in the Great Lakes and other freshwater systems.
With guidance from the mentor, the research participant may be involved in any or all of the following training activities:
- Conducting water and tissue analysis of target chemicals in flow-through chemical exposure experiments with aquatic vertebrates (primarily fish) using HPLC, LC/MS-MS and GC/MS.
- Developing analytical methods for sample fractionation and concentration along with isotope dilution, internal/external standard quantitation using mass spectrometry.
- Collecting surface water, sediment, and biological samples from aquatic environments during field studies and developing methods for clean-up, concentration, unknown identification and fractionation of environmental samples.
- Developing techniques for collection, processing, concentration, preservation and analysis of surface waters, biofluids and tissue samples suitable for chemical, molecular, biochemical, and histological analyses.
- Performing routine equipment maintenance procedures for liquid chromatographs and mass spectrometers.
- Compiling information from the literature and from online data sources relevant to hazard assessment of CECs (e.g., data related to adsorption, distribution, metabolism, elimination, toxicity, etc.) and chemical analysis parameters, and integrating that information into a prioritization framework.
- Conducting in situ exposures with aquatic organisms caged in aquatic environments in support of effects-based monitoring and source identification.
- Analyzing steroid hormones and plasma proteins using radioimmunoassay (RIAs) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs).
- Generating samples for transcriptomic and metabolomic analyses and applying statistical and bioinformatic tools to analyze DNA microarray and/or DNA/RNA sequencing results.
- Conducting statistical analyses on experimental data including multivariate integration and analyses of diverse data types.
- Conducting in vitro bioassays with immortalized recombinant cell lines and/or primary tissues collected from exposed and non-exposed test organisms.
- Presenting research results at regional, national, and/or international conferences and workshops.
- Contributing to the preparation of peer-reviewed journal articles and disseminating research results to project partners and stakeholders both written and orally
The research participant will gain experience in multiple aspects of research project planning, communication, coordination, implementation and analysis. S/he can expect to learn advanced skills in applied environmental chemistry, ecotoxicology, and biology. Additionally, s/he will learn how methods in chemistry, biology, toxicology, bioinformatics, statistics can be integrated to support environmental decision making.
This project provides the opportunity to interact with internationally recognized leaders, both within and outside EPA, in the area of ecotoxicology and regulatory environmental science. The research participant will have the opportunity to contribute to and/or publish original research, attend and present at national and international scientific meetings and workshops, and develop collaborations with other investigators as appropriate to addressing the research problem.
Applicants must have received a master’s or a doctoral degree in chemistry, biochemistry, or environmental chemistry within five years of the desired starting date, or completion of all requirements for the degree should be expected prior to the starting date. Familiarity with analytical research techniques and equipment (e.g., SPE, HPLC, Mass Spectrometry) as well as with experimental designs and approaches employed in analytical chemistry research are strongly 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 appointment is 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. The participant must show proof of health and medical insurance. Funding may be made available to reimburse a research participant's travel expenses to support field studies and 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 and fees, or a participant's health insurance. The participant does not become an EPA employee.
The contact person for this project is Dr. Dan Villeneuve. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Apply:
An application can be found at http://orise.orau.gov/epa/applicants/application.htm. Please reference Project #EPA-ORD/NHEERL-MED-2013-02 when calling or writing for information.