U.S. nationals: Computational Watershed Modeling and Ecological Exposure Research

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Research Triangle Park, NC, US


*Applications will be reviewed on a rolling-basis.

A research opportunity is currently available at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Research and Development (ORD), National Exposure Research Laboratory (NERL), Computational Exposure Division (CED) located in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

This research project will be applying quantitative analytical skills to evaluate and improve the ability of EPA environmental models to accurately predict chemical exposures.

Under the guidance of a mentor, the participant will be involved in the following research activities:

  • programming, simulating and evaluating a number of pesticide models over a large geographical area at a relatively small contiguous watershed resolution. Pesticide exposure concentrations in environmental media and predicted effects on non-target species will then be compared to available data to assess model performance
  • contributing to model development, application, documentation and utilization of models used for assessing ecological risks from pesticides. Activities may include computer programming (Python, web scripting languages, and/or R), numerical verification of model output, cloud-based database management, creating modules for simulating population dynamics, model execution, spatio-temporal likelihood estimation and model selection based on level of interest and skill set
  • analyzing data, presenting research results, and preparing manuscripts for publication. The research involves basic scientific hypothesis testing and inferential processes in a computational context. This includes implementing numerical experiments designed to evaluate the ability of models to effectively estimate chemical exposures and effects. These algorithms are made available in modeling systems that provide predictive capabilities for complex environmental exposures.
  • contributing to a scientific code base using a source code version control system and will be exposed to statistical data management, and graphing techniques that are necessary to analyze algorithm output. The research participant may leverage Monte Carlo techniques for simulating models in order to compare to available data sets in a likelihood framework.

The research participant will have the opportunity to further develop statistical inference and scientific writing skills. The research partcicipant will be able to refine their skills related to model applications and development, while collaborating with a group of interdisciplinary scientists. 

The mentor for this opportunity is Dr. Tom Purucker ([email protected]).

Anticipated Appointment Start Date: Spring/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. Proof of health insurance is required for participation in this program. The appointment is full-time at EPA in the Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, 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, with evidence of quantitative coursework, or be currently pursuing one of the degrees and will reach completion by June 1, 2020. Degree must have been received within five years of the appointment start date.

Preferred skills:

  • Evidence of relevant modeling and scientific programming skills
  • Knowledge of computer modeling
  • Ability to collaborate in a multidisciplinary environment
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 6/1/2020 11:59:00 PM.
  • Discipline(s):
    • Computer Sciences (4 )
    • Earth and Geosciences (7 )
    • Engineering (9 )
    • Environmental and Marine Sciences (9 )
    • Life Health and Medical Sciences (20 )
    • Mathematics and Statistics (11 )
    • Other Physical Sciences (1 )
    • Physics (2 )
    • Social and Behavioral Sciences (3 )

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