Research Associate (PREP0001690)

This position is part of the National Institute of Standards (NIST) Professional Research Experience (PREP) program. NIST recognizes that its research staff may wish to collaborate with researchers at academic institutions on specific projects of mutual interest, thus requires that such institutions must be the recipient of a PREP award. The PREP program requires staff from a wide range of backgrounds to work on scientific research in many areas. Employees in this position will perform technical work that underpins the scientific research of the collaboration.

There is growing evidence that firefighters are being exposed to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) associated with their gear.  The source of the PFAS may be from the firefighter gear (FFG) construction materials or manufacturing process, deterioration of the FFG during service, and/or deposition on the FFG while on duty. To characterize and reduce the firefighter’s risk of being exposed to PFAS, NIST is starting new study to understand the type, prevalence, and concentration of PFAS on the FFG, the source of PFAS, and the mechanism for PFAS release from the FFG. This study is being conducted in collaboration with staff in MML.

This study has three main thrusts.

·         Thrust 1: Characterize PFAS associated with FFG textiles (e.g.; jacket, pants, gloves) new/unused, and after stressing.  Stressing is intended to mimic typical wear-and-tear conditions while a Firefighter is on duty (e.g., elevated temperatures, abrasion, and laundering).

·         Thrust 2: Characterize PFAS found at firefighter’s common workplace environments (e.g., fire scene, fire truck, and fire station). Understanding not only what PFAS species are identified but the source of the PFAS is essential to developing strategies to reducing Firefighter’s risk of being exposed to PFAS.

·         Thrust 3: Coordinate and collaborate our research with the existing PFAS research community who are studying PFAS from AFFF, human health effects from PFAS exposure, etc..  The purpose of this is to use our data to help in the development of comprehensive strategy to reduce/eliminate Firefighter exposure to PFAS.

This is a position that requires delivering for these thrusts but provides flexibility and independency to adjust based on the person’s interests and skills.

The PREP researcher’s work will primarily be in a chemistry/material science research laboratory setting. The researcher will be responsible for executing and reporting out sample preparation (stressing, extraction, etc.) and assisting in the analysis (chromatography, etc.) of specimens containing fluorinated chemicals.

The work will entail...

Key responsibilities will include but are not limited to:

  • Setting up, executing, and reporting out on preparing specimens for analysis (labeling, cutting, and storing of specimens, wet chemistry extractions and handling, etc.).
  • Setting up, executing, and reporting out on preparing and completing physical stressing (abrasion, thermal, etc.) and airborne experiments of specimens.
  • Assist in the operating equipment and collecting of PFAS from thermal degradation and combustion experiments.
  • Willing to learn how to operate analytic equipment (gas chromotography, etc.)


  • B.S. or M.S. in chemistry or related field
  • 2 semesters of lab experience (before or after degree)
  • Good communications skills
  • Good time management skills
  • Strong team focus
  • Want to take on and learn new activities
Interested applicants should submit a resume/CV and cover letter.

Privacy Act Statement

Authority: 15 U.S.C. § 278g-1(e)(1) and (e)(3) and 15 U.S.C. § 272(b) and (c)

Purpose: The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) hosts the Professional Research Experience Program (PREP) which is designed to provide valuable laboratory experience and financial assistance to undergraduates, post-bachelor’s degree holders, graduate students, master’s degree holders, postdocs, and faculty.

PREP is a 5-year cooperative agreement between NIST laboratories and participating PREP Universities to establish a collaborative research relationship between NIST and U.S. institutions of higher education in the following disciplines including (but may not be limited to) biochemistry, biological sciences, chemistry, computer science, engineering, electronics, materials science, mathematics, nanoscale science, neutron science, physical science, physics, and statistics. This collection of information is needed to facilitate administrative functions of the PREP Program.

Routine Uses: NIST will use the information collected to perform the requisite reviews of the applications to determine eligibility, and to meet programmatic requirements. Disclosure of this information is also subject to all the published routine uses as identified in the Privacy Act System of Records Notices: NIST-1: NIST Associates.

Disclosure: Furnishing this information is voluntary. When you submit the form, you are indicating your voluntary consent for NIST to use of the information you submit for the purpose stated.