U.S. nationals: Postgraduate Marine Pollution Prevention Research Opportunity

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Washington, DC, US


*Applications will be reviewed on a rolling-basis.

A research opportunity is currently available at the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Water (OW), Office of Wetlands, Ocean and Watersheds (OWOW). The appointment will be served with the Freshwater and Marine Regulatory Branch (FMRB) located in Washington, DC.

In the past, communities around the world used the ocean for waste disposal, including the disposal of chemical and industrial wastes, radioactive wastes, trash, munitions, sewage sludge, and contaminated dredged material. Little attention was given to the negative impacts of waste disposal on the marine environment. Even less attention was focused on opportunities to recycle or reuse such materials. Wastes were frequently dumped in coastal and ocean waters based on the assumption that marine waters had an unlimited capacity to mix and disperse wastes.

For nearly 50 years, EPA’s Ocean Dumping Management Program has stopped many harmful materials from being ocean dumped, worked to limit ocean dumping generally, and worked to prevent adverse impacts to human health, the marine environment, and other legitimate uses of the ocean (e.g., navigation, fishing) from pollution caused by ocean dumping. EPA’s Freshwater and Marine Branch, in coordination with EPA’s seven coastal Regional Offices (Regions 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9 and 10), administers the Ocean Dumping Management Program.

EPA marine pollution control programs are responsible for the development of polices, guidances, and regulations, and for the implementation of programs to protect ocean and coastal resources. This project will focus on conducting research to support EPA’s Ocean Dumping Management Program. Through implementation of the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act, sometimes referred to as the U.S. Ocean Dumping Act, EPA works to safeguard the ocean by preventing or limiting the dumping of any material that would adversely impact human health and the marine environment.

This project will provide excellent exposure to a broad range of scientific, technical, and policy issues pertaining to sources of marine pollution and the protection of the marine environment. Under the guidance of a mentor, the participant will gain an understanding of EPA’s marine pollution prevention programs and have an opportunity to develop research projects to support EPA’s role in working with international and federal agencies and state and local governments on ocean and coastal management, and learn first-hand about the interaction between the various levels of government and the private sector on these issues. The participant’s research will focus on assisting with the development of national-level reports describing monitoring and assessment of ocean disposal sites, evaluating wastes and other materials that may be considered for dumping into the ocean (this may include data analysis and/or literature reviews), and assisting with the development of tools to support the national regulatory program.

The mentors for this opportunity are Betsy Valente ([email protected]) and Cheryl Zulick ([email protected]).  

Anticipated Appointment Start Date: Summer 2020

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. The initial appointment is for one year, but may be renewed upon recommendation of EPA and is contingent on the availability of funds. The participant will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience. The annual stipend will be as follows depending on education level: $59,534 (Master’s) and $72,030 (Doctoral). Proof of health insurance is required for participation in this program.  The appointment is full-time at EPA in the Washington, DC area. Participants do not become employees of EPA, DOE or the program administrator, and there are no employment-related benefits.

Completion of a successful background investigation by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is required for an applicant to be on-boarded at EPA. OPM can complete a background investigation only for individuals, including non-US citizens, who have resided in the US for the past three years.


The qualified candidate should have received a master’s or doctoral degree in one of the relevant fields, or be currently pursuing the degree and will reach completion by August 2020. Degree must have been received within five years of the appointment start date.

Candidates with strong communication, writing, and analytical skills are preferred.

Eligibility Requirements
  • Citizenship: U.S. Citizen Only
  • Degree: Master’s Degree or Doctoral Degree received within the last 60 months or anticipated to be received by 8/31/2020 11:59:00 PM.
  • Discipline(s):
    • Communications and Graphics Design (1 )
    • Earth and Geosciences (23 )
    • Engineering (27 )
    • Environmental and Marine Sciences (13 )
    • Life Health and Medical Sciences (47 )
    • Other Physical Sciences (12 )
    • Social and Behavioral Sciences (1 )
  • Veteran Status: Veterans Preference, degree received within the last 120 month(s).

I certify that I have lived in the United States for the past three years.