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Research Fellowships

NSF Graduate Research Internship Program (GRIP) at the EPA

Application deadline Dec. 4, 2018

The National Science Foundation has created the Graduate Research Internship Program (GRIP) for graduate students to complete internships at federal agencies. The NSF and United States Environmental Protection Agency collaboration is designed to encourage, develop, and facilitate collaborative professional development and research opportunities for NSF Graduate Research Fellows (GRF). Here at EPA, GRIP students can grow professionally with a rewarding research experience and receive mentoring from our researchers, all while focusing on the protection of human health and the environment.

Interested students should start by identifying an EPA GRIP opportunity and contacting the lead researcher to discuss internship goals. The student may collaborate with the researcher to develop a project plan, per NSF Instructions (PDF)(5 pp, 607 K, April 16, 2018). The student will prepare his/her own GRIP application to request supplemental funding from NSF. GRIP is open only to NSF Graduate Fellows, recipients of the Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) award.  

  •  Learn more about the NSF application process and eligibility requirements.
    • All GRIP awards are subject to the availability of funds, merit review, and acceptance by both the National Science Foundation and NSF's partner agencies (EPA).
    • A Fellow may submit one (1) application per partner agency and may apply to a maximum of two (2) partner agencies for each submission deadline. 
    • NSF awards GRIP internship allowances to Fellows based on a twice-yearly competition. The next deadline for applications is Dec. 4, 2018.
  • Learn about EPA GRIP opportunities under the research categories, listed below.
  • For more information, contact the EPA liaison. Please use the subject line EPA GRIP.

EPA GRIP Internship Opportunities for NSF Graduate Research Fellows

  • Air Research

    Topic: International Household Energy Research
    The student will have the opportunity to work with a team of researchers in a leading laboratory in partnership with a worldwide initiative to address global health and environmental problems associated with household energy.  The student will learn about laboratory evaluation of air pollutant emissions, data analysis, and publication of results.  Experience with VBA or other programming language would be a plus.

    Topic: Development of Energy-Water Infrastructure Tools to Aid Local, State, and Regional Decision Making
    EPA’s National Risk Management Research Laboratory is developing analytical decision support tools for local, state and regional decision makers faced with energy and water infrastructure planning problems.

    Topic: Smartphone App to Predict Air Pollution Exposure
    EPA's National Exposure Research Laboratory is developing iPhone Apps for an innovative and potentially high impact project. These apps will predict near real-time air pollution exposures to reduce exposures for susceptible individuals (e.g., asthmatics).

    Topic: Evaluation of Online Measurement Techniques for Volatile Organic Compounds
    This opportunity is located in US EPA Office of Research and Development in Research Triangle Park, NC and involves the testing of advanced measurement technologies for volatile organic compounds in air.

    Topic: Combining Measurements and Modeling to Better Understand Ammonia Air-Surface Exchange Processes
    The objective of this project is to characterize the sensitivity of EPA’s bi-directional ammonia flux model to inputs of meteorology, air concentrations and biogeochemistry, focusing on the role of soil and vegetation compensation points.

    Topic: Performance Evaluation of Low-Cost Air Quality Sensors
    The objective of this opportunity is to evaluate the performance of a low-cost sensor for ambient air quality measurement.

    Topic: Fundamental UV/IR Reference Spectra Analysis and Evaluation
    The reference spectra used for pollutant emissions quantitation by typical spectral absorption analyzers are based on empirical derivation from gas standards where possible. However, in the absence of quality reference gas standards, they are many pollutants reliant on theoretical spectra (e.g., HITRAN, PNNL, etc) generated by computational means based on multiple spectroscopic parameters. The quantitative quality and appropriateness of these modeled spectra in the absence of empirical confirmation is an uncertainty for EPA relating to the quality of regulatory emissions measurements.

    Topic: Particulate Matter and Black Carbon Emissions Inventories and Measurement Techniques
    The intern would have the opportunity to work with EPA Office of Research and Development (ORD) researchers in Research Triangle Park, NC to complete a literature review of black carbon emissions in the Arctic Region with particular emphasis on residential heating. The intern would also have the opportunity to learn about black carbon measurements and work hands-on in the laboratory with source emissions.

  • Environmental Changes Research

    Topic: Black Carbon Emissions from Residential Combustion in Arctic Nations 
    The Arctic Council Expert Group on Black Carbon and Methane has identified emissions from residential biomass combustion as a significant uncertainty in the global BC inventory for Arctic Nations. This sector accounts for approximately 11 percent of BC emissions from Arctic States.

    Topic: Quantifying Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Water Impoundments
    Conduct field work, lab work and data analysis to quantify the magnitude of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from water impoundments (i.e. reservoirs). This research will be used to improve the nation’s GHG inventory.

  • Ecosystems Research

    Topic: Combining Measurements and Modeling to Better Understand Ammonia Air-Surface Exchange Processes
    The objective of this project is to characterize the sensitivity of EPA’s bi-directional ammonia flux model to inputs of meteorology, air concentrations and biogeochemistry, focusing on the role of soil and vegetation compensation points.

    Topic: Ecosystem Services -- Translating Data to Information
    Identification of what biophysical features matter directly to specific ways in which people benefit from ecosystems.

    Topic: Quantifying the Consequences of Spatio-temporal Dynamics of Mangroves Forests in the Provision of Ecosystem Goods and Services
    Mangrove forests provide important ecosystem goods and services to the world’s dense coastal population and support important functions of the biosphere. The forests are under threat from both natural (e.g. typhoons, sea level rise) and anthropogenic forces (rapid economic development, population growth). The loss of these ecosystems can lead to the loss of critical functions of mangroves including coastal protection, carbon sequestration and biodiversity—thus threatening the resiliency and vitality of coastal social-ecological systems. However, our scientific understanding is limited in regards to the rates, patterns and causes of changes to mangrove forest cover and their impact in providing ecosystem goods and services. The proposed research aims to examine dynamics of mangrove forests and associated change in ecosystem good and services of from 1985 to present.

  • Health Research

    Topic: Investigating How the Microbiome Interacts With Environmental Chemicals in Zebrafish
    This internship will use an innovative experimental system comprised of colonized and microbe-free zebrafish to learn how microbial colonization status affects the toxicity of environmental chemicals.

    Topic: Remote Sensing and Mapping of Urban Environments
    This project is part of a larger remote sensing effort for high resolution land cover mapping and subsequent analysis of communities for sustainability and human and ecosystem health. It builds on EPA EnviroAtlas Meter-scale Urban Land Cover (MULC) data ( cover.pdf). The emphasis will be on developing efficient and repeatable workflows for mapping large areas at high spatial resolution. Knowledge of remote sensing, image classification and GIS is required. 

    Topic:  Using Zebrafish to Detect Developmentally Neurotoxic Chemicals Research
    This internship will use a cutting-edge laboratory model, the zebrafish, to assess the variables that affect zebrafish larval behavior and develop new tests that assess nervous system function.

    Topic:  Science Communication: Importance of Complex Experimental and Computational Models for Evaluating Impacts of Chemicals on Health Outcomes
    Apply science journalism tools to communicate importance and impact of research on complex models to predict impact of chemicals on biological systems. Target audience is policy analysts, decision makers in government and industry, and the general scientific community.

  • Safer Chemicals Research

    Topic: Implications of Gut Content Purging upon Chemical Residues in Lumbriculus variegatus for Highly Hydrophobic Chemicals
    EPA’s sediment bioaccumulation test with Lumbriculus variegatus is routinely performed on sediments from contaminated sites.  Recent research results suggest biphasic elimination kinetics for highly hydrophobic chemicals (chemicals with log KOW > 9.0).  This research opportunity will perform studies to understand the causes of the biphasic elimination kinetics for these chemicals.  The research results will be submitted to peer-review journal for publication. 

    Topic: Using Gene Expression to Predict Toxicity Caused by Environmental Chemicals
    This internship will use cutting-edge laboratory and computational techniques to link chemical-induced gene expression changes generated in different cell models to predictions of adverse effects in animals and humans.

    Topic: Linking Short-term Responses to Ecologically-relevant Outcomes
    Opportunity to participate in the conduct of collaborative integrative lab, field and modelling efforts to characterize molecular-to-organismal level responses and make quantitative testable predictions of population level outcomes from exposures to chemicals and other stressors.

    Topic: Liquid Chromatography- Quadrupole Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry
    There is a need to develop new methods and approaches that can generate exposure data on the growing number of chemicals in commercial use. NERL's Exposure Methods and Measurements Division is developing suspect screening and non-targeted analysis (NTA) methods to gather xenobiotic data in a variety of environmental and biological media to understand the totality of lifetime exposures.

    Topic: Identifying Neurophysiological Signatures of Neurotoxicant Action
    This project will utilize data from microelectrode array recordings of neural networks and ToxCast endpoints to identify signatures acute and developmental neurotoxicity. It will improve prediction of these important endpoints by identifying neurophysiological and biochemical

  • Sustainable and Healthy Communities Research

    Topic: Assessing soil responses in recently restored coastal salt marshes
    Ongoing restoration projects in Rhode Island are testing different methods to build coastal marsh resistance and resilience. In this project, the student will examine the soil responses to hydrological restoration (i.e., runnel creation) and thin layer placement of dredged materials to coastal marshes. Restored marshes are hypothesized to have increased resistance to erosion and improved resilience to flooding events and storm surges. Soil parameters of pH, bulk density, moisture, salinity, oxidation-reduction status, and shear strength between reference marshes and restored sites will help predict trajectories of change in the coastal areas. The restoration monitoring will be carried out through partnerships and engagement with community, state, and federal groups.

    Topic: Flood Induced Contaminants Fate and Transport and Exposures Risk in Vulnerable Communities
    Recent published studies have shown that high-flow events can induce undesired transport of contaminated sediments into surrounding areas (e.g., rivers, water reservoirs, private wells, etc.) and result in elevated levels of contaminants in the vicinity of Superfund sites. This research opportunity takes a system approach to focus on environmental fate/transport of regulated or emerging contaminants due to flood (drought) and its near-field exposures.  The research results can be submitted for peer-review publications.  The results could be applied to contaminant clean-up guidelines for vulnerable communities.

    Topic: 100 Resilient Cities (100RC)
    EPA-Rockefeller Foundation Partnership on 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) – Joining the Office of Research and Development Team to transfer EPA resiliency tools to cities.

  • Water Research

    Topic: Research and Technology Transfer on Groundwater Quality and Remediation  
    Opportunities to work with a team of scientists at the EPA ORD Division focused on groundwater quality and contaminated groundwater remediation. 

    Topic: Spatial Statistical Network Modeling
    Training opportunity to learn how to develop and apply spatial statistical network models for stream/river temperature in the Northeast

    Topic: Data Analysis of Sequences and qPCR for Microbial Communities during Algal Blooms
    2 training opportunities are open to highly microbial-research-motivated students to conduct experiments and data/modeling analysis, explore novel genes, and metabolic pathways, validate resultant findings using qPCR/RT-qPCR and summarize the findings.

    Topic: 100 Resilient Cities (100RC)
    EPA-Rockefeller Foundation Partnership on 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) – Joining the Office of Research and Development Team to transfer EPA resiliency tools to cities.

    Topic: Satellite Water Quality Monitoring
    Flexible opportunity to focus on anything from developing short science videos to research related to using satellites for water quality monitoring supporting the environmental management and public use of lakes, reservoirs and estuaries. Please see the Cyanobacteria Assessment Network (CyAN) Project and video for more information.

    Topic: Development of Gene Centric Modeling for Nutrient Cycling
    The Graduate Research Fellow will participate in the development of a gene-centric model to help predict potential changes in the biogeochemistry of diverse lakes that may arise from anthropogenic stressors and management decisions.

    Topic: Use Multidisciplinary Science to Develop Coral Reef Biocriteria Protective of Biological Communities & Final Ecosystem Goods & Services
    Work with a dynamic scientific team to develop bioindicators and approaches to assess the condition of coral reef ecosystems. Research collaborations provide professional opportunities in a regulatory governmental lab setting.

    Topic: Drivers and Impacts of Coastal Acidification in Pacific Northwest Estuaries
    The intern selected for this position would develop a project focused on the role of eutrophication in influencing coastal acidification and the impact of this acidification on estuarine ecosystems.

  • Other Research Areas

    Topic: Evaluating the Impact of Science on Public Policy and Decision-Making
    Apply background in science, research and policy to evaluate the use of science in public policy and decision-making.

    Topic: Assessing the Benefits of the Natural Environment to Individual Well-being
    This internship involves analyzing survey data and measures of ecosystem services to evaluate the association between the natural environment and individual well-being, along with factors including demographics and socio-cultural characteristics that influence that association. EPA is particularly interested in identifying the benefits or salutogenic influence of the natural environment.

    Topic: Environmental Geophysics Research and Development
    Environmental geophysics opportunities are offered in web site content development, model development and testing, laboratory geophysical experimentation, and field work involving applications of geophysical methods to subsurface processes, site characterization, contaminant fate and transport, and remediation monitoring.

Our committment 
EPA stays committed to STEM education and the development of future environmental workforce. Learn more about other EPA STEM opportunities and the P3 Student Design Competition.