Post-Doctoral Research Program

Market-based incentives for managing excess nutrients in watersheds

Project number:WSD-04-03-2019-02
Division:Water Systems Division
Branch:Watershed Management Branch
Brief description of research project:U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Research and Development has formed a team of economists, ecologists, engineers, and water quality modelers to develop and translate management actions in watersheds for prevention and mitigation of nutrient pollution. Outcomes of this research may focus on the cost effectiveness of controlling excess nutrients, assessing the uncertainty of controlling excess nutrients, examining market-based incentives for controlling excess nutrients, or linking water quality models to economic models. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to collect data, evaluate water quality models, study nutrient biogeochemistry, consider aquatic community and system level ecological dynamics, and/or conduct economic analyses as part of the interdisciplinary research team. The successful candidate may be an ecologist, nutrient biogeochemist, or economist depending on the best set of qualifications and needs of the research team. To date it has been difficult to consider aquatic ecology (streams and lakes) dynamics in watershed management models that focus on nutrients fate and transport. This constrains the understanding of how watershed protection or water quality trading programs, for example, may impart benefit to drinking water treatment or local tourist economies. The work will require a strong background in water quality modeling, stream/river/lake ecosystems, and management and statistical analysis of diverse biological, chemical, and physical water data.
Geographical location of position:Cincinnati, OH
High priority research areas:EPA has recently reiterated its strong support for water quality trading and other market-based approaches to improve water quality (D. Ross, Assistant Administrator for Water, 2019 Memo, Safe and Sustainable Water Resources (SSWR) – Watersheds and Nutrients Topic Areas. Watersheds Research Area 1: Assessment, Monitoring, and Management of Aquatic Resources. Nutrients Research Area 3: Assessment and Management of Nutrients.
Scientific project area:Watersheds Research Area 1; Output 5: Provide water quality models and economic analyses to programs, regions, states, tribes, and local decision makers to support science-based water quality decisions. Nutrients Research Area 3; Output 3: Provide best practices for integrated nutrient management programs (whole system integrated nutrient management science, engineering, economics, and stakeholder engagement).
Educational requirements:Ph.D. in Environmental, Resource, or Agricultural Economics, or Ph.D. in Ecology, Ecological Engineering, Biology, Environmental Science, or related discipline.
Specialized training and/or experience preferred:Preferred candidate will have experience with market-based incentives or analyses that support controlling excess nutrients in watersheds. Although not a requirement, the preferred candidate will have demonstrated expertise with existing water quality models (e.g. CE-QUAL-W2, WASP, AQUATOX, or EFDC) and have familiarity with watershed loading models (e.g., SWAT, HSPF). An understanding of aquatic biological community and/or ecosystem-level ecology is a plus. Familiarity with drinking water treatment processes also would be a plus. Preferred experience with data management constructs, statistical software (i.e., R or SAS) and GIS. Preferred strong communication and writing skills.
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)*: Chris Nietch,, 513-569-7460
Matthew Heberling,, 513-569-7917

*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.