Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Jobs

Job Information

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Tech Student - MSIPP-EM Tech Intern iChrome: Rapid determination of Cr isotopics and speciation in groundwater samples from industrially-contaminated sites in RICHLAND, Washington

Organization and Job ID

Job ID: 310385

Directorate: Energy & Environment

Division: Earth Systems Science

Group: Subsurface Science & Technology

Job Description

The Minority Serving Institutions Partnership Program (MSIPP) Internships is a new program to promote the education and development of the next generation workforce in critical science, engineering, technology, and math (STEM) related disciplines that complement current and future missions of DOE national laboratories. The MSIPP Internship program is designed to provide an enhanced training environment for next generation scientists and engineers by exposing them to research challenges unique to our industry.

MSIPP Interns will be given the opportunity to complete Summer Internships aligned with ongoing U.S. Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management (DOE-EM) research under the direction of a host national laboratory. The internship will be performed at the host national laboratory, utilizing their facilities and equipment under the guidance of a research staff member.

Minority Serving Institutions are institutions of higher education enrolling populations with significant percentages of undergraduate minority students.

Chromium (Cr), due to its widespread use in many industrial processes, has become one of the most prolific groundwater contaminants globally. Chromium exists in nature primarily in two oxidation states, hexavalent [Cr(VI)] and trivalent [Cr(III)]. While Cr(III) is a vital micronutrient for overall health, relatively immobile in the environment, and only toxic at high concentrations, the oxidized state of Cr, Cr(VI), is extremely soluble and mobile, highly toxic, and carcinogenic. As such, reduction of Cr(VI) to Cr(III) is a remediation strategy employed to help control the spread of the highly toxic Cr, rendering the metal immobile and less toxic. However, precisely mapping the extent and level of Cr(VI) contamination is difficult, leading to issues in evaluating the overall level of contamination and the effectiveness of remediation efforts. Isotopes of Cr (52Cr, 53Cr) have been used as a qualitative indicator of Cr oxidation states in groundwater as the lighter isotopes react preferentially during Cr(VI) reduction, leading to changes in the 53Cr/52Cr ratio of groundwater. Mapping of these isotopic shifts in groundwater samples may be used as a chemical “fingerprint” for the source of Cr contamination and to indicate the extent of reduction of Cr(VI). Unfortunately, this type of data is typically convoluted due to sample preservation issues and challenging analytical procedures. To address this, we propose to couple two analytical platforms, ion chromatography (IC) with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), to rapidly and simultaneously determine Cr speciation and isotopes. Using IC coupled to RQ-ICP-MS, we will demonstrate the ability to simultaneously analyze chromium speciation and isotopics in industrially contaminated groundwater.

Characterization of Cr(VI) and Cr(III) has been established using ion chromatography (IC). However, to our knowledge, the coupled IC-ICP-MS has yet to be employed for the rapid determination of Cr speciation and isotopics in environmental samples. The interested intern would be trained on this new analytical approach and assist in the analysis of standards and samples that would ultimately lead to the publication of a peer-reviewed journal article about this new analytical method.

Minimum Qualifications

Candidates must be degree-seeking students enrolled at an accredited college or university. Candidates must be taking at least 6 credit hours and have an overall GPA of 3.0.


Preferred Qualifications

Eligible applicants must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States,

  • Be at least 18 years of age ,

  • Currently enrolled as a full-time undergraduate or graduate student at an accredited Minority Serving Institution, ,

  • Working toward a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) degree,

  • Have an undergraduate or graduate cumulative minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, and

  • Pass a drug test upon selection to participate in the MSIPP. The process and timing for drug testing varies from lab to lab. Use of Marijuana/Cannabis or its derivatives if prescribed is legal in some states. However, having these drugs in your system is NOT legal at United States Federal Contractor sites and National Laboratories.

A preference will be given to candidates who have or will be taking a chemistry class.

Equal Employment Opportunity

Battelle Memorial Institute (BMI) at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer and supports diversity in the workplace. All employment decisions are made without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, marital or family status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or genetic information. All BMI staff must be able to demonstrate the legal right to work in the United States. BMI is an E-Verify employer. Learn more at

Please be aware that the Department of Energy (DOE) prohibits DOE employees and contractors from participation in certain foreign government talent recruitment programs. If you are offered a position at PNNL and are currently a participant in a foreign government talent recruitment program you will be required to disclose this information before your first day of employment.

Other Information

Laboratory work will be performed in PNNL laboratory facilities and involves working with high temperatures (<1200 °C) and pressures, selected hazardous chemicals (acids, bases, etc.), trace levels of hazardous materials (RCRA heavy metals), and fine powders (silica, nanoparticles, etc.).

Directorate: Energy & Environment

Job Category: Undergraduate Internships

Group: Subsurface Science & Technolog

Opening Date: 2020-01-29

Closing Date: 2020-03-05