SDSU Research Foundation

  • Tern Island Bioaccumulation/Plastics Toxicity Testing Support (71-7010)

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  • Overview

    This Statement of Work encompasses the need for the services of a student to provide technical and/or analytical support in the fields of Marine Biology, Biology and Chemistry towards development of aquatic toxicity test data. The specific task requires use of both standardized and innovative laboratory-based testing procedures to evaluate the bioavailability of hydrophobic organic compounds (HOCs) and trace metals in sediment samples collected from Tern Island, HI. These tasks will be conducted in the Bioassay Laboratory at SPAWAR Systems Center (SSC) Pacific in San Diego, CA.


    This work will support an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) partnered project entitled “Investigation of Legacy Contaminants in Sediment, Water and Biological Receptors at Tern Island Natural Wildlife Refuge”. SSC Pacific staff are supporting the United States EPA and the US Army Corps of Engineers in conducting a comprehensive assessment to determine if concentrations of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) and/or heavy metal contaminants associated with previous legacy disposal and abandonment are present in sediment samples collected from Tern Island. In addition, micro-plastics detected in sediment and water samples from the Island and the infiltration of plastic pollution into natural systems is a growing concern due to several physical and chemical hazards (USEPA 2014). One primary concern is the transport of HOCs on plastics and, consequently, the ingestion of microplastics by biota resulting in bioaccumulation of the sorbed HOCs (reviewed by Koelmans 2015, Ziccardi et al. 2016). High densities of microplastics and low organic carbon sediments at Tern Island could mean that HOCs sorbed to microplastics might be more important than in most other environments where plankton and organic matter will dominate the HOC concentrations due to the relatively low densities of plastic particles (Koelmans 2015, Ziccardi et al. 2016).


    The student shall be involved in the preparation, performance and data analysis of laboratory- based toxicity and bioaccumulation testing, and with general laboratory maintenance.


    • Conducting standardized and experimental laboratory-based aquatic bioaccumulation exposures on sediment samples collected from Tern Island (will be provided to student).
    • Performing data analysis using Microsoft Excel and appropriate statistical software such as CETIS (Tidepool Scientific).
    • Assisting with the development of lab exposure chambers using basic tools and parts/equipment that will be provided by the Government.
    • Maintaining laboratory facilities (e.g. washing glassware, calibration and maintenance of water quality meters and seawater system) and test organisms/cultures as required for the testing associated with the effort.


    (1) Undergraduate Student 1 :Majoring in Marine Biology, Biology and/or Chemistry (Freshman or Sophomore) - Must have course work in the discipline requested on the task order Statement of Work. The student must be at the Freshman or Sophomore level, have understanding of the discipline and theories, but can be without experience. This level is expected to need training and supervision.

    Required Course Work:

    • Biological Research
    • Cellular Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Statistics

     Additional Qualifications desired:

    • Expertise with MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and common statistical
    • Interest and/or experience with designing environmental sampling
    • Desire person with strong work ethic, detail oriented, and good communication





    This is a student position and is limited to working 20 hours per week
    This position will remain open until filled
    San Diego State University Research Foundation is an EEO/AA/Disability/Vets Employer


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