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EPA Conservation Activities and Nutrient and Water Quality Research Fellowship

Expiration Date: 

EPA Conservation Activities and Nutrient and Water Quality Research Fellowship

Opportunity Reference Code: EPA-ORD-CPHEA-PESD-2020-03

EPA Office/Lab and Location: A research training opportunity is available at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Research and Development (ORD), Center for Public Health and Environmental Assessment (CPHEA), Pacific Ecological Systems Division (PESD) in Corvallis, Oregon.

Research Project: Each year, federal, state and local entities spend millions to fund activities on the ground designed to minimize the release of nutrient pollutants to the environment, yet the scope of monitoring often is not adequate to determine the effectiveness of these efforts. This interdisciplinary research project combines approaches to compile, analyze, and share complex databases on landscape characteristics, management actions, pollutant loads and sources, and water quality.

The goal of this research project is to compile existing monitoring data from the US EPA [National Aquatic Resource Surveys (NARS;, Safe Drinking Water Information System, EnviroAtlas, StreamCat, LakeCat, National Nutrient Inventory and the Toxics Release Inventory] together with spatial databases of N and P input inventories and with federal and state databases on conservation activities across the US in order to better understand the impacts and effectiveness of conservation activities in reducing release of nutrients to aquatic ecosystems.

Ongoing research within EPA-CPHEA has assembled large datasets to examine nutrient release to the environment and subsequent impacts on surface waters, groundwater, and drinking water. This research project will evaluate the scope of conservation activities in achieving pollutant reductions, and study whether these conservation programs have led to changes in water body nutrient levels or loads. The research will move across scales, and the research participant will have the opportunity to conduct research to inform local to national management questions related to nutrients and water quality.

With guidance from the mentor, the research participant may be involved in any or all of the following research activities:

1. Assembling a national dataset on conservation practices applied over time within the conterminous US;

2. Using GIS to examine the relationships between watershed characteristics and aquatic chemistry;

3. Collaborating on related national mapping activities; and

4. Conducting scientific synthesis, data analysis, manuscript preparation, and literature searches.

Learning Objectives: The research participant will be mentored by EPA-CPHEA scientists as part of a national EPA program in the impacts of nutrient release to the environment within EPA’s Safe and Sustainable Water Research and Sustainable and Healthy Communities Research Programs. The research participant will have the opportunity to learn about EPA's research program on the impacts of watershed management on water pollution, to conduct research on national geospatial data sets, and to apply watershed analyses and aquatic data.

Mentor(s): The mentors for this opportunity are Jana Compton ( and Anne Neale ( If you have questions about the nature of the research please contact the mentor(s).

Anticipated Appointment Start Date: Fall 2020. 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 up to four additional years upon EPA recommendation and subject to availability of funding.