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Ocean Ecology Lab Assistant

Science Systems & Applications
Lanham, Maryland, US
Closing date
Dec 14, 2022

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Academic / Research
Conservation science
Salary Type
Employment Type
Full time
Job Description
Science Systems and Applications Inc. (SSAI) is seeking an Ocean Ecology Laboratory Assistant to support the Ocean Ecology Laboratory (OEL) at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in the (1) laboratory analysis, processing, and evaluation of phytoplankton taxonomy, (2) lab safety coordination, and (3) both procurement and shipping logistics associated with lab and field activities, (4) quality assurance and quality control of oceanographic biological and biogeochemical measurements.

The Ocean Ecology Laboratory (OEL) performs the core functions to ensure the quality of ocean color satellite data products. Ensuring the quality of NASA's multi-mission ocean color satellite data products and developing, refining, and evaluating the associated algorithms requires a substantial volume of high-quality field data. The SeaWiFS Bio-optical Archive and Storage System (SeaBASS; currently provides the community-standard repository for these field measurements. With the upcoming Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem mission ( launching in 2024, NASA will embark upon a new era of unprecedented global ocean and atmospheric satellite data products. PACE will be capable of performing radiometric and polarimetric ocean and atmosphere surveys, returning a range of biogeophysical data from which properties of the ocean and atmosphere can be produced to add to other critical climate and Earth system variables. With advanced global remote sensing capabilities, PACE's high-quality observations will enable advanced understanding of critical ocean ecosystems, understanding of vulnerable coastal regions, quantification of the ocean carbon cycling, unparalleled characterization of ecosystem change and function, improved characterization of clouds, aerosol properties, air and water quality, and cross-disciplinary studies of atmospheric, terrestrial, and aquatic processes and interactions.

Principal Duties of the Ocean Ecology Laboratory Assistant
  • Perform sample analysis and data processing of phytoplankton taxonomy and morphology with imaging flow cytometry, standard flow cytometry, and microscopy.
  • Prepare and organize phytoplankton taxonomic and morphological measurements and associated metadata into data files for submission to SeaBASS.
  • Perform procurement support functions including preparation of purchasing documentation for calibration services, consumables, and equipment.
  • Coordinate shipment of field campaign equipment and samples.
  • Coordinate laboratory safety compliance and documentation.

Other Duties
  • Perform SeaBASS field data quality screening and data re-processing including quality assurance and quality control on phytoplankton taxonomic data files
  • Participate in data reduction and provide support for preparation of reports and publication of results in peer-reviewed journals
  • Develop and document software tools required to accomplish duties
  • Prepare reports and technical documentation on work performed
  • Participate in scientific meetings and workshops

The position will involve extensive interaction with OEL scientific staff and managers as well as scientists from a variety of government agencies, research institutions, and other organizations.

Required Qualifications:
  • BA or BS in natural sciences, biology, oceanography, or closely related science discipline
  • General knowledge of plankton taxonomy
  • Knowledge of chemical laboratory processes and safety protocols
  • Experience with using data analysis tools (e.g., MATLAB, Python)
  • Strong organizational skills and capacity to work effectively in a team environment
  • Good problem-solving skills; attention to detail; ability to learn quickly, to work efficiently and independently, and to engage in laboratory research and office duties as necessary.
  • Competence in extraction and processing of data from specialized research instrumentation.
  • Effective oral and written communication skills
  • Applicants must meet requirements to obtain a security badge and IT credentials at NASA GSFC.

Desired Qualifications:
  • MS in marine sciences, oceanography, biology, or closely related discipline
  • Experience with imaging flow cytometry and standard flow cytometry
  • Experience with light microscopy and epifluorescence microscopy
  • Proficiency with phytoplankton taxonomy classification
  • Experience with logistics and government procurement
  • Strong computer programming skills, including Python, MATLAB, and other programming languages and software

EOE, including disability/vets

Physical Requirements: While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to stand, walk, and use hands to touch, handle or feel objects, tools or controls. The employee frequently is required to talk and hear and occasionally required to reach with hands and arms and stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl. Must regularly lift and/or move up to 10 pounds, and occasionally lift and/or move up to 25 pounds. Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, peripheral vision, depth perception and the ability to adjust focus.

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