Post-Doctoral Research Program

Linking Ecosystem Change to Rates of Water-Based Illness in Coastal Communities

Project number:WED-04-03-2019-01
Brief description of research project:The purpose of this project is to develop quantitative methods to link changes in coastal ecosystem condition to rates of water-based illnesses in coastal communities. The research may address how changes in watershed land use/land cover or hydrology, estuarine water quality or other environmental stressors affect rates of illness due to consumption of contaminated food or exposure to pathogen- or toxin-contaminated water; or how ecological, environmental and social factors interact to affect estuarine-related disease rate. The research may investigate how illness rate or exposure risk changes spatially within or between estuaries (and associated watersheds) in the Pacific northwest, or regionally along US coastlines. The research should use innovative methods to identify illness-producing organisms or their sources, quantify their abundance in environmental samples (water, tissues, etc.), and/or assess public health risk. Focal disease organisms for this research may include microbial or viral pathogens or toxin-producing micro-organisms (i.e., harmful algal bloom species). The research may include models to assess transport and fate of pathogens which can be used to inform restoration and risk assessment.
Geographical location of position:Newport, OR
High priority research areas:Waterborne pathogens associated with fecal contamination are a leading cause of adverse health effects in coastal communities. An objective of EPA/Office of Research and Development (ORD) research under the Safe & Sustainable Waters Resources national program is to advance public health protection from microbial contaminants in surface waters (Objective 3). This position would support SSWR Research Area 2: Human Health and Aquatic Life Criteria, Output 1, by helping to identify pathogens and their sources to assess water quality and risks from recreational exposures and seafood ingestion. Similarly, the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (NHEERL)’s Strategic Plan identifies linking environmental condition to changes in human health for the improvement of human well-being as a priority research area. To support achieving these goals, an ecological microbiologist or epidemiologist with experience with water-borne diseases in coastal watersheds is needed to develop models to investigate linkages between coastal watershed land use, water quality, or other drivers of environmental change on the rates of illness to residents and visitors in coastal communities.
Scientific project area:Microbiology, epidemiology, human health risk assessment
Educational requirements:Ph.D. in microbiology, microbial ecology, ecological or epidemiological modeling, or related discipline.
Specialized training and/or experience preferred:Preferred candidate will have knowledge of laboratory- or field-based analytical methods for identifying and quantifying water-borne, illness-producing microorganisms is required; experience with innovative methods for microorganism identification and quantification; experience with analysis of microbiome for both diversity and function; experience developing statistical or mechanistic models to link incidence of disease organism blooms to changes in aquatic environmental conditions and/or to human health; and experience using GIS, R, Matlab, bioinformatic or similar programs for statistical analysis and modeling.
Projected duration of appointment:3 years
Paid relocation to EPA work location:Yes
Application Period Open Date:Apr 03, 2019
Application Period Close Date:May 02, 2019
Scientific contact/Principal Investigator(s)*: Cheryl Brown,, 541.867.4042

*This person/persons may be contacted for additional scientific information about this project. This person is not authorized to accept applications, make job offers, set salaries, establish start dates or discuss benefits. See general announcement for details on how to apply.