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Research Project Description

Reducing the Risks of Lead (Pb) in Soils
Research Participation Program
Office of Research and Development
National Risk Management Research Laboratory
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Cincinnati, OH


Project Description:

A faculty research training opportunity is currently available at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Risk Management Research Laboratory (NRMRL) in Cincinnati, Ohio. This project will be served with NRMRL’s Land Remediation and Pollution Control Division (LRPCD).

Researchers of NRMRL’s LRPCD develop strategies to deal with historical issues (such as contaminated sediments and waste management) as well as with the emerging issues of sustainable communities, green infrastructure, and emerging contaminants (such as nanomaterials and endocrine-disrupting chemicals).

There are public health risks associated with urban soils stemming from gardening exposures (soil ingestions) to site-based contaminants that may originate from prior site uses. Common urban contaminants include lead, arsenic, cadmium and asbestos, but can also include a wide array of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) from past industrial or dumping uses. The purpose of this study is to examine soil amendments and soil chemical characteristics to reduce the risks of metals in urban soils.

With guidance from the mentor, the research participant may be involved in one or more of the following training opportunities: 

  • Developing and applying methodologies for assessment of contaminants in urban soils with respect to plant uptake and human risks.
  • Developing and applying methodologies for assessment of soil amendments impacts on metal speciation with respect to alteration of bioavailability and sequestration.
  • Planning and structuring research to progress from bench to pilot to field application.

Through this project, the research participant will gain experience in:

  • Research methodologies for soil characterization and analysis
  • Enhanced analytical laboratory skills
  • Methods for designing field experiments
  • Understanding risks of soil contaminants in urban soils related to soil ingestion from gardening activities to human exposure to crops grown in urban gardens
  • Expertise in synchrotron radiation techniques to elucidate the distribution and speciation of elements in urban soils through training activities

The research participant will have latitude in exercising independent initiative and judgment in the research commensurate with the level of training. The research participant will then take what was learned and share the additional knowledge in the classroom to benefit students, which will enhance science, mathematics, engineering and technology education, and encourage careers in science and technology.

Development will be in the form of:

  • Research experience in both laboratory and field settings
  • Opportunities to present research at professional conferences
  • Opportunities to publish research results in peer-reviewed journals
  • Interaction with senior NRMRL research staff
  • Interaction with decision-making personnel


Applicants must be full-time faculty members at an accredited U.S. college or university with a background in soil science, environmental engineering, or geology.

The program is open to all qualified individuals without regard to race, sex, religion, color, age, physical or mental disability, national origin, or status as a Vietnam era or disabled veteran. U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent resident status is preferred (but can also hold an appropriate visa status, however, an H1B visa is not appropriate).

The appointment is full-time for six months and may be extended upon recommendation of EPA and subject to availability of funds. The participant will receive a monthly stipend commensurate are based on their current academic salary. No funding will be made available to cover travel costs for pre-appointment visits, relocation costs, costs of tuition and fees, or a participant’s health insurance. The participant must show proof of health and medical insurance. The participant does not become an EPA employee.

Technical Questions:

The contact for this project is Kirk Scheckel. He can be contacted at

How to Apply:

An application can be found at Please reference Project #  EPA-ORD/NRMRL-LRPCD-2013-02 when calling or writing for information.