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Vacancy: Permanent support scientist hydrologist position in Tucson, AZ


Hydrologist GS1315-11

A.   Introduction

This position is located in the Southwest Watershed Research Center, Tucson, Arizona. The incumbent provides professional support to research involved in measuring, understanding, and predicting the effects of changing climate, land use, and conservation practices on all aspects of hydrologic and sediment budgets at the unit’s Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed and Santa Rita Experimental Range outdoor laboratories as well as any other field measurements necessary to support the Long-Term Agroecosystem Research (LTAR) network.

B.   Major Duties

The incumbent performs as a member of a research team to ensure that data collected in the unit’s outdoor laboratories are of the highest quality, that the data and metadata in the unit’s long term database reflect the underlying processes even for extreme events, and that novel and expanded applications of the database are supported.

  • Plans, in conjunction with supervisor, the research of hydrologic phenomena and analysis of hydrologic data.
  • Performs data analysis to assess instrumentation and experimental design of the unit’s outdoor laboratories including, but not limited to, the Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed and Santa Rita Experimental Range.
  • Responsible for implementing new field measurements and data quality assurance and processing in support of LTAR objectives as well as interaction with other LTAR scientists and the National Agricultural Library.
  • Prepares interpretation of hydrologic analysis of data for inclusion in reports, scientific publications, and presentations.
  • Evaluates and provides analysis of hydrologic models to compare process representations with field measurements.
  • Works with staff scientists/engineers and IT specialists in the planning of research involving the analysis of hydrologic data.
  • Responsible for oversight of the maintenance and operation of meteorological and soil moisture station data logging equipment, sensors, measurements and subsequent data reduction, storage and analysis.
  • Responsible for oversight of the radio frequency and cellular data communications to and from all SWRC remote gauging stations and compliance with USDA OCIO directives pertaining to such.
  • Responsible for the programming of all data loggers in SWRC networks, the accuracy of said programs, adapting existing programs and writing new programs for changes in sensors, sensor technologies, or for new installations for existing sensors.
  • Ensures that field experiments do not affect the observations or confound interpretations made for either nearby or later experiments.
  • Reviews background material through literature searches in scientific and trade literature. The incumbent incorporates new methods, techniques, instruments, data recording or communication technology to improve data collection.

C. Evaluation Factors

1  Knowledge Required by the Position

  • Knowledge of soil-water-plant principles, hydrologic/hydraulic principles, including precipitation runoff relations.
  • Knowledge of hydrologic simulation models for runoff, erosion, and chemical transport in order to implement and test the models using available computer systems, to perform sensitivity analysis on the model components, and to integrate the different hydrologic factors which contribute to the overall watershed management program in the data analysis processes.
  • Knowledge of mathematics and statistics, including calculus, algebra, optimization methods, quality assurance methods, stochastic processes and statistical hypothesis testing.
  • Knowledge of hydrologic instrumentation, data recorder programming, and data transfer technologies.
  • Knowledge of USDA and ARS protocols of communications systems (e.g. radio frequency, cellular) for data transfer.
  • Ability to use data analysis tools on a personal computer.
  • Skill in developing and planning experimental studies in support of research.
  • Technical writing skills to prepare scientifically sound reports.
  • Ability to work as a team member.

2  Supervisory Controls

The incumbent works under the general supervision of a Research Hydrologist who outlines the problem and indicates general objectives and priorities of the projects. The incumbent independently plans and executes the projects, selecting the approaches and methods to be used in solving problems. Technical progress is reviewed periodically, discussing the technical soundness of results and shifts in emphasis, priority or approach that may be necessary. Major changes in approach must be approved by the supervisor.

3   Guidelines

Guidelines include technical literature, computer manuals, manufacturer's catalogs and handbook, precedents, applicable codes and files of previous projects. The incumbent must use judgement in modifying, adapting, and extending guidelines to specific project needs.

4   Complexity

The work requires the ability to identify problems at any point between measurement, collection, transmission, processing, quality control, analysis, and interpretation for large amounts of data from various instruments. Varying conditions require the incumbent to modify procedures or establish new procedures.

5   Scope and Effect

Incumbent provides technical expertise to the research project by assisting scientists with data analysis. The hydrological, mathematical, and statistical preliminary analyses performed by the incumbent are essential in interpreting complex relationships represented by large volumes of data. The Research Center's scientists rely on the accuracy of results, data and reports.

6   Personal Contacts

The incumbent has direct contact with technicians, project scientists and engineers, University of Arizona staff, cooperating scientists and engineers, visiting scientists, users of Research Center information data, and with commercial and governmental suppliers of support services.

7   Purpose of Contacts

Contacts with co-workers involve exchange of factual information regarding hydrologic data collection and reduction. Contacts are necessary to analyze hydrologic data, to correct and modify data and programs when required, to create data files for use at various locations. Contacts with staff scientists and University of Arizona staff are for discussing analyses techniques, exchanging information, and resolving problems. Contacts with suppliers involve arranging for service or repair of ADP equipment, or to obtain information on new hardware or software. Sharing of field expertise across the LTAR network is expected.

8  Physical Demands

The work is mostly sedentary. Intense concentration and concentrated efforts are required at times, to meet deadlines and schedules with cooperating scientists. Driving and walking in desert conditions is occasionally required for field observations.

9  Work Environment

The majority of the work is in the office. However, field work is required when necessary to obtain data or maintain equipment.

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