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Research Associate

Silver Spring, MD

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Research Associate
Silver Spring, MD
Req #:
# of openings:
Job Category:
Information Technology, Science
ECS is seeking a
Research Associate
to work in our
Silver Spring, MD
Please Note: This position is contingent upon contract award.
Job Description:
NOAA Fisheries is mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), and Endangered Species Act (ESA) to conserve and manage our nation's living marine resources. The MSA calls for the best scientific information available to manage U.S. commercial and recreational fisheries, and this is coordinated out of NOAA Fisheries' Office of Science and Technology (OST). Approximately 500 fish stocks are managed in the United States under fishery management plans produced by eight regional fishery management councils. NOAA Fisheries' scientific stock assessments are critical to modern fisheries management by providing important science information necessary for the conservation and management of fish stocks. The stock assessment process includes the collection of data from commercial and recreational fisheries and our own on-the-water scientific observations, integration of the data into stock assessment models, forecasting, and interpretation of results to describe the past and current status of fish populations and make predictions about how a fishery will respond to current and future management measures. NOAA Fisheries also conducts assessments of protected species for informing agency decisions related to a species' ESA listing status, federal or federally-funded activities that may impact a species or its habitat, acceptable bycatch levels, and scientific research and incidental take permits issued to agencies, scientific and academic institutions, and industry. This full suite of activities constitutes a considerable portion of NOAA Fisheries' budget.
Quantitative analyses are conducted during each stage of the stock assessment process, and a suite of analytical tools are available to assessment analysts. Many tools used by NOAA Fisheries have been created in-house with varying degrees of generality, accessibility, testing, documentation, and best practices. The NOAA Fisheries Toolbox (NFT) serves as a clearinghouse for those stock assessment tools that have been tested and documented, and have broad applicability. User interfaces are developed for these tools to facilitate standardized assessment practices and ease of use. Additionally, the NFT provides a venue for development and testing of new tools. The algorithms for stock assessment analyses are generally coded in AD Model Builder, C, or R, while user interfaces have been created using Visual Basic (although alternative approaches are being explored).
The NOAA Fisheries OST has a need for two individuals to develop stock assessment tools and manage the NFT. These tasks include working with and maintaining a catalog of tools with web access, graphical user interfaces, and proper documentation and testing. With a goal of best meeting the needs of assessment scientists, this work will occur under the direction of the OST's National Stock Assessment Program (NSAP), in collaboration with the National Assessment Methods Working Group and other scientific programs.
Key tasks include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:
Support and coordinate national assessment model development and NFT activities Collaborate broadly with NMFS leadership, the National Stock Assessment Program, the Assessment Methods Working Group, and other programs to strategize and prioritize model development and NFT tasks
Facilitate web-hosting, distribution, and tracking of NFT software
Ensure access to recent developments by regularly updating tools with new versions that have sufficient testing and documentation
Provide first-line user support for NFT software
Keep abreast of NOAA and IT policies to ensure compliance and appropriate provision of tools
Development and testing Support and contribute to the development, testing, validation, documentation, and maintenance of national analytical tools used in fisheries science.
Develop and maintain graphical user interfaces for NFT software that are generalized to accommodate a range of scenarios; may include maintaining interfaces coded in Visual Basic and/or utilizing more contemporary and flexible approaches (e.g., JAVA, QT, other)
Facilitate intelligent use and error handling to minimize user mistakes
Facilitate community software platform development and versioning
Communication Collaborate with developers and field scientists throughout NMFS and beyond to best meet community needs
Develop training modules and documentation for stock assessment software and user interfaces as needed
Provide NFT-related reports, briefings, and presentations as needed
Serve as an interface between user groups and IT development teams
Communicate the results of projects and activities to general and scientific audiences in written and oral formats
Software platforms and graphical user interfaces for national analytical tools used in fisheries science
A web-based system that facilitates organization of the NFT, community development, version control, and access to the most recent versions of tools and all relevant materials and documentation
Publications (working papers, technical memoranda, peer-reviewed papers) that describe national analytical tools, document research, development and testing, and serve as user manuals and training modules
Reports to leadership and national working groups on Toolbox and Assessment Methods projects
Training modules and documentation for stock assessment software and user interfaces as needed
Required Skills:
Excellent programming skills, including experience that may include Visual Basic, C, Fortran, and Java
Knowledge and/or experience with statistical software, such as R, Splus, SAS, MATLAB, AD Model Builder, and others
Experience and understanding of code versioning software, such as Git, SVN, mercurial, and others
Demonstrated experience in the development of graphical user interfaces for scientific purposes with data analysis and familiarity with the design, development, and management of relational databases for scientific information
Familiarity and experience with NOAA Fisheries' stock assessments, including an understanding of analytical techniques, terminology, and the connection between stock assessment and marine resource management
Knowledge of web-based software and website management
Experience with developing and implementing standards in software and data management and documentation
Demonstrated proficiency for the following skill sets: Project management for complex and technical scientific programs
Coordinating and leading diverse project teams to develop, improve, and achieve program goals
Communication both verbally and using written materials (including visual presentation) with a variety of audiences including technical, scientific and non-scientific
Working with diverse groups of individuals under strict timelines to accomplish goals
Working independently with strong time management skills
Adaptability to quickly changing priorities
Attention to detail
ECS is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate or allow discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, age, national origin, citizenship, disability, veteran status or any other classification protected by federal, state, or local law. ECS promotes affirmative action for minorities, women, disabled persons, and veterans.
ECS is a leading mid-sized provider of technology services to the United States Federal Government. We are focused on people, values and purpose. Every day, our 2300 employees focus on providing their technical talent to support the Federal Agencies and Departments of the US Government to serve, protect and defend the American People.

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