U.S. nationals: Watershed Management Postgraduate 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 Watershed Branch located in Washington, DC. The Watershed Branch is responsible for leading EPA’s Impaired Waters Listing and Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program nationally, and supporting related watershed protection activities.

The goal of this research project is to support the Watershed Branch in the implementation of the 303(d) Vision, the Healthy Watersheds Program, and EPA’s Watershed Academy. Program staff and regional offices will collaborate with each other to better understand current practices related to implementation of specific EPA-approved water quality standards and/or recommended water quality criteria. Technical and programmatic analyses will be conducted in support of watershed restoration or protection activities. Targeted training materials on watershed management will be developed. Project research might also involve reviewing state TMDLs, listings, and other materials to analyze policy issues related to pollutant allocations, priority ranking, and overlisting.

Under the guidance of a mentor, the research participant will be involved in the activities above and will learn:

  • The respective roles of EPA, states and tribes in achieving the goals of the Clean Water Act (CWA) to achieve and maintain water quality
  • Programmatic approaches and policy and technical tools to identify and develop restoration and protection plans for impaired or high quality waters, including those related to address nutrient impairments
  • How states and EPA can continue to push the CWA 303(d) listing and TMDL program to better achieve environmental results in ways tailored to specific state priorities
  • How to leverage different media to convey water quality information to a variety of audiences

This opportunity will provide excellent exposure to the interface of watershed technical issues and environmental policy. It also offers exposure to the interaction between State and EPA CWA program practitioners in implementing their respective responsibilities under the CWA 303(d) program.

This research opportunity will provide the grounding to learn how relationships and interdependence of various Clean Water Act (CWA) programs are structured to help achieve water quality results.

The mentor for this opportunity is Miranda Chien-Hale ([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. 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 bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in one of the relevant fields, or be currently pursuing one of the degrees and will reach completion by August 2020. Degree must have been received within five years of the appointment start date.

Preferred skills:

  • Strong skills in multimedia use platforms, communications, research, engagement, data analysis, outreach and writing on environmental issues
  • Familiarity and/or experience with the Clean Water Act
  • Background in watershed science, water quality issues, and watershed assessment methods
Eligibility Requirements
  • Citizenship: U.S. Citizen Only
  • Degree: Bachelor’s 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 )
    • Computer Sciences (2 )
    • Earth and Geosciences (6 )
    • Environmental and Marine Sciences (8 )
    • Life Health and Medical Sciences (1 )
    • Social and Behavioral Sciences (1 )
  • Veteran Status: Veterans Preference, degree received within the last 120 month(s).





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