*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 opportunity is available at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Research and Development (ORD), Center for Computational Toxicology and Exposure (CCTE), Great Lakes Toxicology Ecology Division (GLTED) located in Duluth, Minnesota.
Research Project: Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a complex class of thousands of chemicals that are used in a wide variety of commercial products and industrial applications. Given their properties and widespread use, PFAS have become widespread throughout the environment and are highly persistent. While a few select PFAS (e.g., perfluorooctanesulfonate [PFOS]; perfluorooctanoic acid [PFOA]) have been highly studied, there are thousands more PFAS structures for which little fate or effects data exist.
Given the costs and time it would take to characterize thousands of PFAS using traditional animal testing, new approach methodologies (NAMs), such as cell-based bioassays, high throughput transcriptomics, and structure-based bioactivity prediction models, are being used to identify potential biological targets and pathways PFAS may interact with. While there is increasing reliance on NAMs, targeted whole animal testing is still needed to verify NAM-based predictions and fully translate in vitro responses to in vivo effects. In order for data across this translational research effort to be reliable for use in regulatory decision-making, it is important that bioavailable concentrations of the test chemicals in the assay systems, chemical residues in blood and tissues, and biomolecules important for proper physiological function (e.g., hormones) are precisely quantified and verified analytically.
The research participant will be engaged in dynamic research involving in vitro assays, in vivo aquatic bioassays, analytical chemistry, in silico computational modeling and informatics to support rapid chemical safety evaluation for a high priority class of chemicals. The research participant will learn a diversity of laboratory techniques which can be applied across physical and life sciences research fields. The research participant will learn to operate and use a range of analytical instrumentation and scientific equipment. The research participant will learn to evaluate data quality, troubleshoot research results, apply statistical methods for data analysis and interpretation.
With guidance from the mentor, the research participant may be involved in any or all of the following training activities:
- Preparing stock solutions of PFAS from neat chemicals and verifying stock concentrations analytically.
- Developing techniques for the collection, processing/extraction, and analysis of small volume/mass samples for PFAS and other biomolecules.
- Developing and/or adapting methods for high resolution mass spectrometry-based analysis.
- Compiling information from the literature and from on-line data sources relevant to analytical methods.
- Assisting with laboratory exposures to PFAS chemicals, or other reference chemicals thought to act through similar modes of action, using aquatic organisms.
- Development and application of methods to enrich samples for chemicals that bind specific molecular targets for subsequent analysis.
- Processing and analyzing field collected samples (environmental and biological matrices) for PFAS and other targeted chemical or biomolecule analytes.
- Conducting statistical analyses on experimental data using a variety of programs and approaches.
- Presenting research results at regional, national, and/or international conferences and workshops.
- Contributing to the preparation of peer-reviewed journal articles and disseminating research results to project partners and stakeholders.
Learning Objectives: The research participant will be integrated into a transdisciplinary research team and engaged in multiple aspects of project planning, communication and coordination, research implementation, and analysis. The research participant will be afforded an opportunity to interact with internationally recognized leaders, both within and outside EPA. The research participant will have the opportunity to contribute to and/or publish original research. It is expected that this research training opportunity will provide an early career scientist with knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to apply analytical methods and associated data to regulatory decision-making at the local, national, and/or international scale and to pursue a professional career in analytical chemistry and environmental research.
Mentor(s): The mentor for this opportunity is Jon Haselman (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you have questions about the nature of the research please contact the mentor(s).
Anticipated Appointment Start Date: Summer 2021. 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 three to four 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 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.
Questions: Please see the FAQ section of our website. After reading, if you have additional questions about the application process please email ORISE.EPA.ORD@orau.org and include the reference code for this opportunity.