Postdoctoral Research Associate (Limited-Term Contract)

Friday, February 19, 2016
Job Type: 
Job Rank: 
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Job Institution: 
Orange County Water District
Job Description: 


A Postdoctoral Research Associate position is available beginning July 2016 in the Research and Development (R&D) Department of the Orange County Water District (OCWD). The mission of the R&D Department at OCWD is to conduct applied research that supports OCWD’s operational, regulatory, and water quality objectives through innovation, technology evaluation, development of new or improved processes and methods, and collaboration with universities and topic experts. Much of the R&D Department’s efforts relate to support, evaluation, and process optimization of the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) Advanced Water Purification Facility (AWPF), operated by OCWD in Fountain Valley, CA, which consists of treatment by microfiltration (MF), reverse osmosis (RO), and ultraviolet/advanced oxidation process (UV/AOP) followed by lime stabilization prior to groundwater recharge and injection for indirect potable reuse (IPR).

Under the direction of the R&D Department Director and staff scientists, the Postdoctoral Research Associate will carry out applied research related to water quality and potable reuse. The Postdoctoral Research Associate will be independently responsible for managing their project(s), collecting and preparing samples, and design and implementation of experimental tests. Additional responsibilities include identification and pursuit of grant funding to support ongoing project work; coordination and oversight of supporting work by R&D intern(s); preparation of project reports; and conducting literature reviews. 

Two current representative R&D projects are described below. 

Evaluation of the source and/or controlling factors related to N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) formation and removal across the individual GWRS AWPF unit processes, including post-treatment stabilization. 
The application of advanced molecular methods for microbial water quality characterization at the GWRS AWPF. Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) coupled with advanced metagenomics analysis will be used to identify microbial community signatures and their transformations during treatment, and relate these findings to individual unit process treatment steps and standard operational/water quality parameters, with the ultimate goal of improving understanding and monitoring of advanced treatment performance. 

These two projects are highlighted to indicate that the Postdoctoral Research Associate will be directed to support one of these projects and/or other R&D projects, dependent on the candidate’s qualifications and interests, with the ultimate goal of providing operational recommendations and/or validating new methods, and publishing the findings. 

Laboratory studies and field work will be conducted primarily at the bench scale, but may include pilot-scale testing or full-scale evaluation of GWRS AWPF depending on the project and outcomes.  Supporting facilities available at OCWD include: the Advanced Water Quality Assurance Laboratory (AWQAL) for standard chemical analyses via EPA methods, as well as emerging contaminants; the R&D molecular biology laboratory with qPCR systems, Sequencer and fragment analyzer synthesizer, single tube and 96 well luminometer, and standard microbiological equipment; the R&D water quality and spectroscopy laboratory including ATR-FTIR and a Horiba Aquilog fluorometer; R&D microscopy for image analysis including light microscopy and Atomic Force Microscopy; and the Engineering Research Center (ERC) featuring MF, RO, and UV/AOP pilot systems.   

Application Deadline:  April 15, 2016

Preferred Start Date:  July 2016 

Applicants must provide a resume, a 1-2 page research statement (highlighting research accomplishments, current research interests and goals, research experience relevant to OCWD and this job description, and long-term career aspirations), and the names, emails, and phone numbers of three references.        


Applicants should have excellent communication skills (presenting and writing) and organizational skills; strong quantitative skills; the ability to work both independently and within collaborative teams; experience designing and conducting scientific studies and experiments; knowledge regarding water reuse and advanced treatment; knowledge of theory, practices, and methods used in the chemical, physical, and microbial analysis and testing of water; knowledge of safe laboratory practices and procedures; the ability to prepare clear and concise written project reports and publications.

Note: OCWD does not sponsor work visas for international candidates. 

A PhD in Environmental Engineering or a related scientific or engineering discipline is required, with research experience in water quality, water treatment/reuse, chemistry, microbiology, and/or molecular biology. 


The term of the Postdoctoral Research Associate position will be a one-year appointment via a limited-term (at will) contract, with the possibility of up to two annual renewals contingent on satisfactory performance, availability of funds, and project life. 


M-F (8:00am – 5:00pm) 

SALARY RANGE: $24.04 - $28.85 PER HOUR 

You must submit an OCWD online employment application to be considered.

Please visit to complete an application.

Pre-employment drug screening is conducted for DOT Program positions.

A valid California driver’s license and proof of automobile insurance is required.

Applications will be accepted until a sufficient number apply. EOE