University Classification: Assistant Research Scientist/Engineer
Job Code: PRJ1
Pay Level: 5A
Position #: (NEW)
Org/Dept/Sub-dept #: 04-0225 00125912
Position Reports to: David Cwiertny

Position Specific Summary:

The Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination (CHEEC) Assistant Research Scientist/Engineer will contribute to CHEEC’s research program related to environmental organic chemical contaminants and their impact on human health. This person will operate and maintain a newly acquired liquid chromatography with triple quadrupole (QQQ) tandem mass spectrometry in the recently established CHEEC analytical laboratory. Beyond instrument operation and routine maintenance, they will also contribute to collection and processing of environmental and biological samples for CHEEC, while also supporting sample preparation and analysis through the High Resolution Mass Spectrometry Facility, a shared research core under the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) at the University of Iowa. The Assistant Research Scientist/Engineering is also expected to contribute to the drafting of research proposals that will help secure federal/private funding for CHEEC. They will also represent CHEEC at public and professional environmental health meetings, and may represent CHEEC at legislative meetings and policy discussions as requested.

Key Areas of Responsibilities and Specific Job Tasks

Key Areas of Responsibility

Specific Job Duties and Tasks

Experiments, Simulations, Modeling or Theoretical Investigations

· Operate and maintain instrumentation (LC-MS/MS), including method development for organic contaminants in environmental (e.g., water) and biological (e.g., urine) fluids relevant to public health

· Participate in collection of environmental samples (e.g., water) from across the state of Iowa

· Preparation, clean-up and concentration of environmental and biological samples prior to analysis

· Develop all associated QA/QC protocols associated with sample processing and analysis

· Collect data and evaluate relevance of data.

· Work independently on basic research tasks with oversight by Faculty or Principal Investigator (PI).

· Contribute to documentation of equipment and procedures.

Data/Research Analysis and Evaluation

· Analyze data for relevance and data integrity.

· Perform basic data analysis techniques.

· Compare results of scientific investigations to previously published work.

Dissemination of Research Results

· Prepare manuscripts for contributing author for publication.

· Present results in departmental seminars and at professional meetings.

Research Proposals/Grants

· Contribute to new or continuing research grant proposals to obtain funding for research activities.

· May serve as co-PI on grants or proposals.

· Contribute to progress reports required by funding agencies.

· Supervise adherence to safety and compliance guidelines when necessary.


· Provide service to the scientific community, University and General Public.

· Review submitted manuscripts and research proposals.

· Consult and collaborate with the research community.

· Participate in public outreach activities as required by funding sources.

· May participate in national and international meetings within the discipline.

Human Resources/Supervision

· Mentor undergraduate and graduate students

· May provide functional and/or administrative supervision for staff.

· Provide direction, assignments, feedback, coaching and counseling to assure outcomes are achieved.

Universal Competencies

Collaboration/Positive Impact

Ability to work with a variety of individuals and groups in a constructive and civil manner and utilize existing resources and learning to achieve or exceed desired outcomes of current and future organizational goals/needs.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Ability to work with a variety of individuals and groups in a constructive and respectful manner while appreciating the unique contribution of an inclusive workforce that brings together the talents of people across multiple identities, including: race, creed, color, religion, national origins, age, sex, pregnancy, disability, veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or associational preferences.

Service Excellence/Customer Focus

Ability to meet or exceed customer service needs and expectations and provide excellent service in a direct or indirect manner. Ability to effectively transmit and interpret information through appropriate communication with internal and external customers.

Technical Competencies

Qualitative Research


· Utilizes experience in collecting, organizing, and making sense of qualitative data.

· Designs and implements research studies.

· Makes recommendations for additional study needs based on information gathered.

· Evaluates assumptions, interpretations and inferences made in research.

· Coaches others in effective questioning techniques.

Quantitative Research


· Successfully uses quantitative research to prove and disprove theories in multiple applications.

· Identifies scenarios where quantitative research has failed to deliver needed information.

· Shows others how to derive accurate conclusions based on quantitative trials.

· Articulates and explains all assumptions and variables that factor into research conclusions.

· Communicates recommendations based on research clearly and convincingly.

Research Analysis


· Analyzes published research reports and their possible implications.

· Interprets new findings and analyzes their validity.

· Implements research analysis standards within the organization.

· Controls the quality of research analysis.

· Advises on advanced research analysis methods.

· Evaluates research analysis best practices within the industry.

Research Documentation


· Assists in the preparation of research documentation.

· Applies word processing to produce tables of contents, footnotes and other document components.

· Embeds tables of research data into documents.

· Explains the organization's process for drafting, editing and publishing formal research studies.

· Prepares bibliographies for research documents.

Research Ethics/Compliance


· Applies policies and procedures designed to ensure compliance with ethical laws, regulations, and university code.

· Describes several types of issues covered by IRB, WIRB, IACUC, etc. and organizational code for research ethics/compliance.

· Documents the ethical considerations involved in carrying out research activities.

· Follows procedures for reporting violations.

· Participates in resolving issues involving research ethics/compliance.

Research Safety


· Ensures that all first-aid equipment is operational and supplies are current and fully stocked.

· Participates in internal and external safety or health inspections.

· Follows established safety guidelines in research procedures to prevent illness or inlury to self or others.

· Seeks and identifies potential or actual safety hazards in storing, handling, transporting, and using various hazardous materials.

· Maintains health and safety records according to organizational and regulatory guidelines.

Grants and Contracts Development and Management


· Describes the major activities of developing and managing grants and contracts.

· Identifies methods of locating funding sources.

· Identifies methods for maintaining, tracking and updating information on funding sources.

· Identifies elements of standard grant proposal applications (e.g., needs assessments, project objectives, designs and methods, timelines, evaluations, budgets, data sources, etc)

Research and Verification


· Verifies information and/or material to be published, exhibited or presented.

· Uses appropriate specific sources of research information.

· Researches and verifies facts and figures.

· Collaborates in the verification process.

· Identifies and discusses common research or verification problems.

Written Communications


· Produces written materials in business- and industry-specific technical language.

· Ensures that written message is understood as intended.

· Adapts writing -- language, form, style, tone -- to different audiences.

· Uses various techniques for information dissemination and information gathering.

· Advises others on incorporating tables, charts, and diagrams into documents.

· Reviews the written materials of others and provides feedback and coaching.

This description is intended to indicate the kinds of tasks and levels of work difficulty that will be required of positions that will be given this title and shall not be construed as declaring what the specific duties and responsibilities of any particular position shall be. It is not intended to limit or in any way modify the right of any supervisor to assign, direct, and control the work of employees under his or her supervision. The use of a particular expression or illustration describing duties shall not be held to exclude other duties not mentioned that are of similar kind or level of difficulty.

As part of performing the key areas of responsibility and competencies described above, staff members are expected to meet reasonable standards of work quality and quantity, as well as expectations for attendance established by their supervisor. Staff members are also expected to comply with policies governing employee responsibilities and conduct, including those contained in the University Operations Manual.

Proficiency levels are defined as:

Basic Application - Uses basic understanding of the field to perform job duties; may need some guidance on job duties; applies learning to recommend options to address unusual situations. 

Working Experience - Successfully completes diverse tasks of the job; applies and enhances knowledge and skill in both usual and unusual issues; needs minimal guidance in addressing unusual situations.

Extensive Experience - Performs without assistance; recognized as a resource to others; able to translate complex nuances to others; able to improve processes; focus on broad issues.

Expert/Leader - Seen as an expert and/or leader; guides, troubleshoots; has strategic focus; applies knowledge and skill across or in leading multiple projects/orgs; demonstrates knowledge of trends in field; leads in developing new processes.

Position Qualifications

Education Required

A PhD in public health, environmental health, environmental chemistry, environmental engineering or related field

Required Qualification

· Demonstrated experience facilitating partnerships and participating in / coordinating multi-faceted research projects.

· Excellent oral communication skills, and demonstrated writing proficiency.

· Possession of a valid state or commercial driver's license, and ability to meet University Fleet Safety Standards.

Desirable Qualification

· 3+ years of experience in a public health or environmental health field.

· Familiarity with environmental sample collection, including design and implementation of field investigations related to environmental quality.

· Experience with the processing and clean-up of complex environmental and biological samples, including all associated QA/QC activities.

· Prior work with liquid chromatography with quadruple tandem mass spectrometry, including method development and analysis of resulting datasets.

· A track record of publication, including peer-reviewed articles, technical reports and opinion/editorial (op-ed) pieces.

· Experience with writing grant or contract proposals, and experience in the grant review process.

See requisition # 21004857 at

Applicable background checks will be conducted.

The University of Iowa is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. All qualified applicants are encouraged to apply and will receive consideration for employment free from discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, age, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, religion, associational preference, status as a qualified individual with a disability, or status as a protected veteran.