Environmental Wetlands Science Fellowship
*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 Location: A research associate opportunity is available at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 6, Dallas, Texas in the NPDES Permitting & Wetlands Section. This Section is responsible for administering the EPA’s wetland protection program within Region 6. There is potential for the research associated to be co-located at the EPA Region 6 Lab, Houston, Texas. Regional program responsibilities are mainly related to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and related regulations by EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA 404) establishes a program to regulate the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, including wetlands, with EPA primarily interpreting guidance and policy in conjunction with the USACE administering the day-to-day permitting program.
Research Project: Exciting opportunity to research and compile meaningful ecological performance standards for compensatory mitigation banks and recommend improvements to existing approaches to established standards. The assessment would include an evaluation of the various aquatic resource habitat types found in the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast Region. Mitigation bank types evaluated may include a combination of restoration, establishment, enhancement and preservation of marsh, wetland, stream and riparian areas. The research would include the evaluation of existing performance standards, monitoring reports, and potential field verification within the TX/LA Gulf Coast Region and nationwide as appropriate. Researching existing databases and similar studies may be utilized to guide the effort along with existing models, tools, methods, or protocols, for assessing aquatic resources. This research project would address a critical need to identify and develop robust mitigation bank performance standards to help ensure successful compensatory mitigation projects in support the Compensatory Mitigation Bank Program under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. It will provide an opportunity to interact and coordinate with the appropriate resource agencies (e.g., Corps of Engineers, Texas Parks and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) to solicit input regarding aquatic resource criteria.
Additionally, there is an opportunity to investigate and develop potential mapping-based screening tools to evaluate recent land use trends and CWA 404 permit activities to support the integration of Environmental Justice (EJ) priorities into the Regional Wetlands Program. The Greater-Houston, Texas area is one within the Region 6 that has been noted for flooding concerns that impact self-identified environmental justice communities. The Regional Wetlands Program is seeking CWA 404 implementation opportunities with the perspective that prioritizing CWA 404 project reviews will allow for a more effective implementation of EJ policy in the Greater Houston Area. Providing this prioritizing information and datasets will allow for stronger and more detailed comments to permit actions in EJ identified area. Other program areas that may benefit from similar geographic-based prioritization efforts could include Clean Water Act Section 401 coordination, implementation of Regional Streamflow Duration Assessment Methods, and identification of potential beneficial uses of dredged material.
Learning Objectives: Under the guidance from a mentor, the research participant will gain experience in any or all of the following areas.
- Develop knowledge about the Clean Water Act 404 and Compensatory Mitigation Banking programs.
- Understand the habitat and impact assessment tools utilized for various aquatic resources.
- Understand how Clean Water Act programs are implemented between the federal, state, and regulated communities.
- Gain experience in Public Service and obtain professional contacts through the Mitigation Banking Interagency Review Teams.
- Gather, analyze, review, and present results to their mentor and internal/external audiences through briefings, fact sheets and presentations.
Mentor(s): The mentor for questions about this opportunity is Paul Kaspar (email@example.com). If you have questions about the nature of the research please contact the mentor directly.
Anticipated Appointment Start Date: December 2023- January 2024. All start dates are flexible and vary depending on numerous factors.
Appointment Length: The appointment may 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 Stipend: The participant will receive a monthly stipend ranging from $4,221 up to $5,494 which is commensurate with educational level and experience.
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 ORISE.EPA.REG@orau.org and include the reference code for this opportunity.
The qualified candidate should be currently pursuing or have received a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in one of the relevant fields. Degree must have been received within the past five years.
- Impact assessment and evaluation and the methodologies used in that process (Rapid Assessment methods, habitat evaluation procedures, etc.)
- Knowledge of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, including stream and wetland mitigation strategies
- Experience in measurement of environmental variables, stream functions, ecosystem components
- Natural resource modeling, basic stream and wetland functions, and experience in field measurements/data collection
- Willingness to work outdoors, in the Texas summer.