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EPA Advancing a Circular Economy and Sustainable Materials Management

*Applications may be reviewed on a rolling-basis and this posting could close before the deadline. Click here for information about the selection process.

EPA Office/Lab and LocationMultiple research opportunities are available at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA), Office of Land and Emergency Management (OLEM), Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery (ORCR) located in Washington, DC.

Research Project: Beginning in the Fall of 2021, EPA will be releasing a series of strategies focused on building a circular economy for all. The Strategies will aim to reduce the environmental impacts of materials, address climate change and environmental justice, support innovation and research, and help create new jobs. Implementation of the Strategies also will support the U.S. in meeting two ambitious national goals related to materials – reducing food waste by 50% by 2030 and increasing the recycling rate to 50% by 2030. To support successful development of implementation of the Strategies, EPA is seeking several ORISE scholars to conduct research in the following areas:
  • National measurement, data collection, and analysis of municipal solid waste, food waste, and construction and demolition materials;
  • Effective strategies for reducing food waste through consumer behavior change and other consumer-focused interventions;
  • Best practices and strategies to advance a circular economy for materials in the built environment, with a focus on the enhancing community resilience to natural disasters;
  • Research on recycled content products, materials and markets to support EPA’s Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines program, which provides recommended recycled content levels for products purchased by the federal procurement;
  • Methodologies for tracking the life cycle of materials through the U.S. economy at a detailed level and compatible with EPA's models; and
  • Methodologies for determining the amount of plastic waste that is escaping into the environment.

Learning Objectives: The research participants will have the opportunity to collaborate with peers at EPA, as well as other federal agencies and non-profit and academic institutions. The research participants will collaborate with scientists and policy makers in environmental and social sciences.

Mentor(s): The mentor for questions about this opportunity is Nicole Villamizar ( If you have questions about the nature of the research please contact the mentor(s) directly.

Anticipated Appointment Start Date: January 2022. All start dates are flexible and vary depending on numerous factors. Click here for detailed information about start dates.

Appointment Length: The appointment will initially be for one year and may be renewed up to three additional years upon EPA recommendation and subject to availability of funding.

Level of Participation: The appointment is full-time.

Participant StipendThe participant will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience. Click here for detailed information about full-time stipends.

EPA Security Clearance: Completion of a successful background investigation by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is required for an applicant to be on-boarded at EPA.

ORISE Information: This program, administered by ORAU through its contract with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to manage the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), was established through an interagency agreement between DOE and EPA. Participants do not become employees of EPA, DOE or the program administrator, and there are no employment-related benefits. Proof of health insurance is required for participation in this program. Health insurance can be obtained through ORISE.

ORISE offers all ORISE EPA graduate students and Postdocs a free 5 year membership to the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA).

Questions: Please see the FAQ section of our website. After reading, if you have additional questions about the application process please email and include the reference code for this opportunity.