Environmental Lab Scientist II

King County   Auburn, WA   Full-time     Science
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Posted on October 17, 2020

This position is open to KING COUNTY EMPLOYEES ONLY.

Job Summary

The King County Environmental Lab is a full service environmental laboratory supporting a range of King County wastewater treatment and environmental programs (See http://www.kingcounty.gov/environment/data-and-trends/environmental-lab.aspx for more details.) This is a level II position shared between the Conventionals and Microbiology Units and is responsible for conducting environmental laboratory analyses using a variety of complex analytical methods and advanced analytical instrumentation to characterize environmental samples in the Conventionals and Microbiology Units. This position performs and interprets a variety of environmental laboratory analyses using accepted Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Standard Methods. A successful candidate for this position must be able to maintain predictable and reliable work attendance.

Job Duties

Applying equity and social justice principles is a daily responsibility and a foundational expectation for all  King County employees. In this role, you will apply equity and social justice principles that exemplify shared values, behaviors, and practices to all aspects of the work. You will also:

  • Prepare reagents, standard solutions, laboratory equipment and environmental samples for all types of Conventionals analyses (nutrients, chlorophyll, BOD, COD, TOC, ion chromatography, cyanide, pH, conductivity, alkalinity, turbidity, solids, sulfide, particle size distribution, and several others).
  • Using standardized procedures, independently perform a variety of Conventionals analyses by autoanalyzers, TOC analyzers, Ion Chromatograph, autotitrator, UV-Visible spectrophotometers, fluorometer and a variety of manual procedures.
  • Perform associated QA/QC procedures, assess the results of QC activities, and recommend, perform and document appropriate corrective actions.
  • Troubleshoot instrument problems and perform routine maintenance on complex laboratory equipment.
  • Utilize computer software to prioritize work, track samples, acquire data, perform calculations and statistical analysis, and transfer data to the LIMS database.
  • Prepare and update written standard operating procedures, corrective action documentation and case narrative reports.
  • Conduct peer and comprehensive project review of Conventionals’ analytical data including: checks for completeness, calculation accuracy, data interpretation and data quality objective adherence.
  • Effectively cross train coworkers on analytical methods, including sample preparation and instrument operation, maintenance and troubleshooting techniques, and data interpretation.
  • Assist in the development of new or modified methods in the Conventionals unit.
  • Serve as technical coordinator on project teams. Serve on a variety of lab committees.
  • Consult with customers in planning projects, assigning Conventionals methods, solving problems and concerns related to the analyses, and serving as a technical resource for customers.
  • Order laboratory equipment, services, and supplies. Help develop equipment specifications, selection of vendors, and negotiation of service contracts.
  • Determine inventory needs, order and receive routine laboratory supplies, and complete associated paperwork.
  • Constructively problem-solve work issues with team members and other lab staff.
  • Follow safety requirements and guidelines. Recognize and correct potential safety hazards.
In the Microbiology Unit:
  • Uses standardized and non-standardized procedures, performs a variety of moderate to complex microbiological analyses on environmental samples, interprets results, trains less-experienced staff, and performs associated tasks and related duties.
  • Perform a variety of laboratory analyses, using accepted Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) methods and Standard methods, including advanced analyses using complex analytical instrumentation. Select appropriate tests, depending on project needs. Evaluate data, identify deficiencies and take appropriate corrective actions. Prepare interpretive or narrative reports.
  • Use standard and non-standard protocols to perform Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) analyses for isolation, identification and quantification of indicator bacteria, microbial source tracking bacteria and pathogenic microorganisms, interpret results and evaluate data.
  • Assist in training and mentoring less experienced analysts in unit.
  • Participate in evaluating training needs for the unit.
  • Prepare media, reagents, glassware, laboratory equipment and environmental samples for all types of microbiological analyses.

Experience, Qualifications, Knowledge, Skills

Minimum Qualifications

  • A Bachelor’s degree in chemistry, microbiology, or an equivalent combination of experience and education is required.
  • At least three years of increasingly responsible experience performing both sample preparation and instrumental analysis for a variety of environmental samples using complex laboratory instrumentation.
  • Demonstrated proficiency on both theory and performance of a wide scope of analyses on environmental samples and the use, maintenance, troubleshooting and repair of complex laboratory instrumentation.
  • Experience in developing and/or using ultra low-level analytical techniques for ambient concentrations of analytes in environmental samples.
  • Knowledge and understanding of EPA and other accepted methodologies for environmental Conventionals and Microbiology analyses, quality assurance and control principles and practices.
  • Proven ability to work effectively with computers including applications such as LIMS, Excel, and Word.
  • Experience and proven proficiency with a variety of vendor software packages for instrument interface and data handling purposes.
  • Knowledge of relevant principles of inorganic and analytical chemistry, microbiology, and relevant mathematics and statistics.
  • Demonstrated ability to write clearly and explain complex technical issues to others verbally and in narrative reports, and a proven ability to be very detail oriented.
  • Demonstrated ability to promote mutual respect and acceptance of all workers in a diverse work group.
  • Proven ability to work independently, as a member of a team, and to work effectively with customers.
  • Participate constructively and consistently in group problem solving and decision making; skill in handling non-routine situations independently and as a lead analyst.
  • Knowledge of laboratory safety procedures.
  • Must be able to perform and have experience in all primary job functions.

Desirable Qualifications
  • Direct and recent experience in conventional chemistry and microbiology procedures.
  • Direct and recent experience with computer software applications including data acquisition and data processing programs, LIMS, Word, Excel, and Outlook.
  • Experience with purchasing systems and demonstrated ability to prepare technical specifications for complex laboratory instrumentation.
  • Working knowledge and experience with analysis of a wide variety of environmental matrices.
  • Substantial microbiology/molecular biology bench experience including lead technical work analyzing environmental matrices or other similar matrices.
  • Strong applied math skills used in molecular biology work.
  • Knowledge of environmental regulations and uses of environmental data.
  • Experience with advanced molecular biology instruments such as microarrays or gene sequencers. Advanced degree in Microbiology, Biology or Molecular Biology.

Necessary Special Requirements A valid Washington State Driver's License and the ability to travel throughout the County in a timely manner. This position also requires precision in operating and using delicate laboratory equipment and glassware with accuracy. Ability to stand/position oneself at laboratory hoods and countertops for prolonged periods of time, occasional to frequent lifting of up to 40 pounds, raising and holding heavy bottles above the head, and moving, manipulating/positioning large and bulky materials. This position requires the ability to repetitively prepare and mix samples, which involves shaking and pouring samples, using repetitive hand and wrist motion and some kneeling and stooping.


Supplemental Information

Required Application Materials

1. King County application including the supplemental questionnaire
2. Resume
3. Attach a cover letter - Your letter should include how your skills and experiences makes you qualified for this position.

NOTE: Please answer ALL questions in the online employment application itself, with each of your jobs during the last 10 years listed (listing each position for each employer separately), duties explained, reasons for leaving etc. Earlier jobs should be included if they are relevant in some way to this job. Applications that are not complete, or do not include all required materials may be rejected as incomplete, and not advanced in the process. Applicants who are unable to apply online should follow the instructions under Application Tips and FAQs at
www.kingcounty.gov/jobs. If you need an accommodation in the recruitment process or an alternate format of this announcement, please inquire directly with the Human Resources contact for this job announcement.

Selection Process
Applicants will be screened for competitiveness, completeness, and written communication skills. The most competitive candidates may be invited to participate in one or more interviews and possibly other selection process elements such as a writing exercise and/or other test. Final offers are contingent on successful completion of reference checks.

Work Environment
Heavy workload, deadline pressure and interruptions due to changing priorities and malfunctioning equipment are not uncommon. Work is performed in a laboratory environment, with exposure to noxious fumes, harmful chemicals, biohazards, and high-volume or high frequency noise, and risk of exposure to high voltage electricity, harmful chemicals, very hot or cold materials, potential explosives, pressurized gas and sharp objects. Exposure and risk of exposure are minimized by adherence to appropriate laboratory safety practices.

About King County
As the only county in the United States named after Martin Luther King Jr, one of the most influential civil rights leaders in our nation's history, King County is a vibrant community with residents that represent countries from around the world. It is a region with increasing diversity that cherishes the artistic and social traditions of many cultures. Together we are changing the way government delivers service and winning national recognition as a model of excellence. We continue to build on an enduring legacy of shared values of equity and social justice, employee engagement, innovative thinking and continuous improvement. With this commitment, King County has adopted a pro-equity agenda aimed at advancing regional change and is developing the systems and standards necessary to achieve better outcomes for all of our residents, regardless of their race or income. All of these qualities make this King County one of the nation's best places to live, work and play.

Competitive Benefits

Work Schedule
This position is Exempt from the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and is not eligible for overtime pay. Work schedule is normally Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Alternative work schedules may be considered. Work outside of the normal workday is required periodically.

Work Location
This position will work partially remote. There will be an expectation to travel to various worksites throughout King County as needed for your work. A Laptop will be supplied by King County.

For more information regarding this recruitment, please contact: Helen Hackley, HR Analyst, 206-477-0087, hhackley@kingcounty.gov

Union Membership
This position is non-represented.

Class Code: 7530200

Forbes recently named King County as one of Washington State's best employers.

Together, with leadership and our employees, we're changing the way government delivers service and winning national recognition as a model of excellence. Are you ready to make a difference? Come join the team dedicated to serving one of the nation's best places to live, work and play.

Guided by our "True North", we are making King County a welcoming community where every person can thrive. We value diversity, inclusion and belonging in our workplace and workforce. To reach this goal we are committed to workforce equity. Equitable recruiting, support, and retention is how we will obtain the highest quality workforce in our region; a workforce that shares and will help advance our guiding principles--we are one team; we solve problems; we focus on the customer; we drive for results; we are racially just; we respect all people; we lead the way; and we are responsible stewards. We encourage people of all backgrounds and identities to apply, including Native American and people of color, immigrants, refugees, women, LGBTQ+, people living with disabilities, and veterans.

King County is an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Employer
No person is unlawfully excluded from employment opportunities based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation and pregnancy), age, genetic information, disability, veteran status, or other protected class. Our EEO policy applies to all employment actions, including but not limited to recruitment, hiring, selection for training, promotion, transfer, demotion, layoff, termination, rates of pay or other forms of compensation.

To Apply
If you are interested in pursuing this position, please follow the application instructions carefully. If you need this announcement in an alternate language or format, would like to request accommodation or assistance in the application or assessment process or if you have questions please contact your recruiter listed on this job announcement.

King County offers a highly-competitive compensation and benefits package designed to meet the diverse needs of our employees and support our employees' health and well-being.  Eligible positions receive the following benefits and have access to the following programs:

  • Medical, dental, and vision coverage: King County pays 100% of the premiums for eligible employees and family members
  • Life and disability insurance: employees are provided basic coverage and given the opportunity to purchase additional insurance for both the employee and eligible dependents
  • Retirement: King County employees are eligible to participate in a pension plan through the Washington State Department of Retirement Systems and a 457(b) deferred-compensation plan
  • Transportation program and ORCA transit pass
  • 10 paid holidays each year (plus 2 personal holidays)
  • Generous vacation and paid sick leave
  • Paid parental leave, family and medical leaves, and volunteer leave
  • Flexible Spending Account
  • Wellness programs
  • Onsite gyms and activity centers
  • Employee giving program
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Flexible schedules and telecommuting options, depending on position
  • Training and career development programs
For additional information about employee benefits please visit our Benefits, Payroll, and Retirement Page.

This is a general description of the benefits offered to eligible King County employees, and every effort has been made to ensure its accuracy.  If any information on this document conflicts with the provisions of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the CBA prevails.  Also, in the event of any incorrect information in this document, applicable laws, policies, rules, CBAs, or official plan documents will prevail.
NOTE:  Benefits for Term Limited Temporary (TLT) or Short Term Temporary (STT) positions, including leave eligibility and/or participation in the pension plan through the Washington State Department of Retirement Systems, will vary based upon the terms and details of the position. Short Term Temporary positions are not eligible for an ORCA transit pass.
For inquiries about the specifics of this position, please contact the recruiter identified on this job posting.

Describe your background in environmental inorganic chemistry and microbiology, and why your experience and qualifications make you the best candidate for this position. Focus on specific experience you have performing microbiological and inorganic chemistry-related sample preparation and analysis. Also include in your response your experience with EPA protocols, Standard Method protocols and/or other relevant methodologies.
We expect a high level of performance from employees at the King County Environmental Lab. We empower each other and value our technical expertise, collaboration, ethics, diversity, and service to our customers. Describe how you would contribute to and fit into the culture of this unique workplace.
Describe your experience using complex analytical instrumentation to identify microorganisms outside of academia (e.g. gene sequencers, microarrays, real time PCR systems etc.). Include techniques you used to troubleshoot challenges isolating and identifying microorganisms from environmental samples.

Required Question