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Research Project Description

Design and Development of Computational Decision Support Systems
Research Participation Program
Office of Research and Development
National Center for Computational Toxicology
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Research Triangle Park, NC

EPA-ORD/NCCT-2014-03

Project Description:

A postdoctoral research project training opportunity is currently available at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Research and Development (ORD), National Center for Computational Toxicology (NCCT). This appointment will be served in the Chemical Safety for Sustainability (CSS) National Research Program.

The NCCT is carrying out research to develop predictive models of chemical toxicity based on combining large and diverse sets of data. A major goal is to enable decisions to be efficiently made about the thousands chemicals in the environment. To aid this process, we are developing a decision-support framework.

This research project will focus on the development of web-based software that effectively support decision-making processes in the management of chemical hazards.

The research participant will engage in research projects involving the design and development of computerized decision support systems to be used by scientists both inside and external to the EPA. The research participant will be involved in developing dashboard components, databases, and complete decision support systems, in collaboration with staff in NCCT and partners who will be users of the systems.  S/he will join the dashboard/decision support team, which includes scientists, software developers and data curation experts.

Through this project, the research participant will learn decision-support methodologies and related software engineering concepts. Additionally, the research participant will learn how to reduce diverse types of scientific data into easily understood visual components as part of websites. S/he will develop project plans in consultation with the mentor.  S/he will have latitude in exercising independent initiative and judgment in the research commensurate with the level of training.

Skills that the research participant will learn include: How to design decision support systems; How to design supporting databases, web service architectures and web toolkits; How diverse scientific data is used in decision-making contexts; How diverse users interact with these systems.

The research participant will interact with team members in a number of disciplines including software engineering, computational biology, high-throughput methodologies and chemical risk assessment. S/he will be involved with interactions with both the development team and outside users of decision-support systems.

Qualifications:

Applicants must have received a bachelor’s or master’s degree in biology, molecular or cell biology, ecology, environmental science, marine biology, zoology, chemistry or physics within five years of the desired starting date, or completion of all requirements for the degree should be expected prior to the starting date. Experience in writing bioinformatics or related software in PERL, R or Java, or equivalent languages 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 appointment is full-time for one year and may be renewed for up to two additional years upon recommendation of EPA contingent on the availability of funds. The participant will receive a monthly stipend. The participant must show proof of health and medical insurance. This can be obtained through ORISE. The participant does not become an EPA employee.

Funding may be made available to reimburse a 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 and fees, or a participant's health insurance.

Technical Questions:

The contact person for this project is Dr. Thomas B. Knudsen. He can be contacted at Knudsen.Thomas@epa.gov.

How to Apply:

An application can be found at http://orise.orau.gov/epa/applicants/application.htm. Please reference Project # EPA-ORD/NCCT-2014-03 when calling or writing for information.