Ocean Career: EPA Microplastics Laboratory Specialist

The EPA National Student Services Contract has an immediate opening for a full time Microplastics Laboratory Specialist at EPA position with the Office of Research and Development at the EPA facility in Narragansett, RI.

The Office of Research and Development at the EPA supports high-quality research to improve the scientific basis for decisions on national environmental issues and help EPA achieve its environmental goals. Research is conducted in a broad range of environmental areas by scientists in EPA laboratories and at universities across the country.

What the EPA project is about

The Atlantic Coastal Environmental Sciences Division (ACESD) within CEMM is responsible for coastal watershed, freshwater, estuarine, and coastal ecological research. CEMM/ACESD scientists develop and evaluate theory, methods, models, and data to better understand and quantify the cumulative effects of multiple anthropogenic stressors and extreme weather events on the coastal waters and watersheds of the Atlantic seaboard. In addition, we support the development of methods for measuring the ecological effects of nutrients and other pollutants and for elucidating the role of biogeochemical processes in mitigating or exacerbating the effects of multiple stressors.


As a team member, you will work with emerging contaminants including microplastics, are an increasing concern in our Nation’s waterways. Method development for detection in environmental matrices and collection of basic information on fate and effects are critical to understanding and quantifying the risk of this growing emerging contaminant. In collaboration with a team of US EPA scientists, the candidate will aid in experiments designed to develop methods to better understand the fate and effects of microplastics. Our laboratory has several research efforts including method development for detecting and identifying microplastics in complex environmental matrices, source tracking of microplastic particles, and development of methods to evaluate effects in marine benthos from microplastic and other contaminants. The candidate will have the opportunity to be part of these on-going research projects. In addition, the candidate will have an opportunity to learn the many aspects of laboratory organization and maintenance necessary to implement research projects. The candidate will benefit from participating as part of the research team, including contributing to team meetings and discussions, and communicating their own research to the team. In addition, the candidate will learn the correct way to maintain and organize laboratory data and information, including physical samples, laboratory notebooks, and electronic files. The candidate will comply with all laboratory records management policies and requirements.

Responsibilities will include:

  • Extraction and analysis of environmental samples for microplastics;
  • Assistance with experiments in assessing marine benthic communities and toxicity tests;
  • Data compilation;
  • Maintenance of algal cultures; and
  • Routine laboratory maintenance including ordering and receiving supplies.

Communications-related responsibilities will include:

  • Participating as a member of a multi-disciplinary research team;
  • Interacting with other members of the research team as well as other US EPA scientists; and
  • Presenting results at local and national scientific conference as needed.

Required Knowledge, Skills, Work Experience, and Education

  • Working knowledge of general laboratory equipment including microscopy and algal culture;
  • Research experience in benthic ecology, biology, and chemistry;
  • Proficiency in microplastics extraction and identification in environmental samples;
  • Extensive experience and working knowledge of Raman spectroscopy for microplastics analysis in environmental media; and
  • Experience working independently as well as part of a group.

Learn more about this opportunity and how to apply.

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