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Research Project Description

Influence of Management Decisions on Nitrate Leaching From Farmland in the Southern Willamette Valle
Research Participation Program
Office of Research and Development
National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Corvallis, OR


Project Description:

A postdoctoral research project training opportunity is currently available at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (NHEERL). The appointment will be served with the Western Ecology Division (WED) in Corvallis, Oregon.

WED addresses scientific issues of major importance in formulating public policies, programs, and regulations to protect and manage ecological resources. With this in mind, the goal of this postdoctoral research project is to generate novel information about nitrogen leaching and management in a nitrogen-impacted community in the U.S. that can be used to inform local to regional decisions. 

Under the guidance of a mentor, the research participant will conduct a leaching study associated with the EPA RARE project examining the role of management practices affecting nitrate leaching in the southern Willamette ground water management area (GWMA). S/he will analyze the data from the soil solution collections, stable isotope analyses, soil quality and nutrient management practices in order to calculate site N and P leaching and input-output balances. S/he will be encouraged to write papers and present the data at local, regional and national meetings.

The research participant will be trained in the use of multiple complimentary approaches to quantify nitrate leaching from farm fields in the southern Willamette River Basin. S/he will also collaborate with staff in EPA-WED’s Integrated Stable Isotope Research Facility (ISIRF), learning basic concepts of water isotopes and mass spectrometry. S/he will learn to use GIS approaches to apportion N and P loading to the landscape based on available data from EPA, USDA, USGS and others. 

The research participant will collaborate with ecologists, atmospheric scientists, ecosystem modelers, engineers and economists at WED and across EPA who are studying nutrient loading, land use practices, hydrology, ecosystem service production, and economic impacts of reactive nitrogen for the U.S. The research participant will also interact with key EPA program office and regional personnel who are interested in using these data, in order for the data to match the potential uses.


Applicants must have received a doctoral degree ecology, botany, soil science, crop science, ecological modeling, environmental science, environmental economics, statistics, econometrics, applied mathematics, computer programming, or a closely related field 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 biogeochemistry, soil science, data analysis, statistics, GIS and modeling 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 a candidate also may hold an appropriate visa status; 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. Funding may be made available to reimburse the 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. The participant must show proof of health and medical insurance. The participant does not become an EPA employee.

Technical Questions:

The mentor for this project will be Dr. Jana Compton (

How to Apply:

An application can be found at Please reference Project # EPA-ORD/NHEERL-WED-2014-05 when calling or writing for information.