EXTENSION - Air Quality Research Fellow - Rio Grande International Study Center

Position: Air Quality Research Fellow

Location: Laredo, Texas or remote

Hours: Part-time, 30 hours/week

Term: Temporary four-month position from January 6, 2020 to May 3, 2020 at 30 hours per week; flexibility on start and end dates of up to one week

Compensation: $15/hour

Benefits: None

Application Deadline: Friday, Dec. 13, 2019


Organization Description

Rio Grande International Study Center (RGISC) has been Laredo’s leading environmental organization since 1994. Our mission is to preserve and protect the Rio Grande-Rio Bravo, its watershed and environment, through awareness, advocacy, research, education, stewardship and bi-national collaboration for the benefit of present and future generations.

RGISC was established in 1994 by citizens from Laredo and Nuevo Laredo in response to the deteriorating water quality in the Rio Grande, our only source of drinking water. The Rio Grande exists in a water-stressed basin and supports 13 million people in the U.S. and Mexico. It ranks as one of the 10 Most Endangered Rivers in the world by the World Wildlife Fund.

RGISC believes that awareness is the first step to promoting real action in the community.

RGISC forms partnerships and alliances with groups representing diverse stakeholders to improve the environmental health of our community.  Working with these groups and agencies, RGISC acts as a catalyst in promoting changes in policy, community attitudes and behavior.  RGISC develops and sustains high-impact community projects through the help of hundreds of volunteers who form the heart of the RGISC mission.

RGISC is the only environmental nonprofit in Laredo and the surrounding region. Our focus is preventing and reducing the introduction of toxins and other waste into the Rio Grande and preserving green spaces, regional wetlands and other fragile habitats.


  • Earned the Texas Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence.
  • Helped establish the river monitoring program for Webb and Zapata counties in the mid-1990s and conducts monthly water quality testing for federal and state agencies for the past 25 years.
  • Coordinates the annual student water testing event called the Rio Research Roundup along the entire 1,885-mile Rio Grande watershed for the past nine years, involving nearly 2,500 students from both sides of the river.
  • Prevented aerial spraying of herbicides along the Rio Grande by the U.S. Border Patrol, protecting people and ecosystems living along the riverbanks, by organizing a community called Barrio de Colores which ended in a settlement that prohibits aerial spraying along 16.1 Laredo river miles, in perpetuity.
  • Successfully mobilized the small historic community of San Ygnacio, Texas to defeat a permit for a “land farm” in the floodplain by the Rio Grande where oil and gas waste sludge from hydraulic fracturing (also known as “fracking”) would be disposed.
  • Campaigned for and helped craft the City of Laredo’s first set of environmental ordinances: hazardous materials, illegal dumping, green spaces preservation, and single-use plastic bag ban.
  • Conceptualized and secured seed money to construct and operate the Lamar Bruni Vergara Environmental Science Center, now managed by Laredo College.

Overall function

The role of the Air Quality Research Fellow will be to compile quantitative data and research on cost-effective technologies for reducing emissions from diesel trucking in Laredo, Texas.  The Fellow’s primary objective will be to produce a user-friendly manual on how owner-operator truck drivers and forwarding and logistics warehouses can adopt new technologies to save money and reduce emissions of harmful air pollutants.

Under the guidance of RGISC’s expert consultants and in collaboration with project partners, the Air Quality Research Fellow will:

  • Analyze existing research and information, including but not limited to quantitative air quality monitor data; climatological data; public health trends; trends in activity metrics from commercial mobile sources; and cost-effective emission reduction opportunities.
  • Produce a guide compiling best practices and cost-effective technologies for emission reductions, including an executive summary with key findings and recommendations with a target audience that includes owner-operator truck drivers and forwarding and logistics warehouse operators.
  • Collaborate with graphic designers, videographers, and translators to produce bilingual outreach materials including brochures and videos that can be shared at outreach events and through local media outlets, highlighting actionable insights, with the primary audience being owner-operator truck drivers.

The goal of the project is to develop easy-to-understand resources that can be used by key partners in the logistics and forwarding sector and owner-operator truck drivers to enable these populations to make decisions that will reduce diesel emissions.

Key Responsibilities

  • Research technical information about emissions from diesel engines used in the logistics sector today, and technologies available to assist with reducing those emissions.
  • Compile and analyze quantitative data on air emissions and cost for a variety of technologies.
  • Create charts, graphs, and other visual aids to communicate quantitative data.
  • Write a guide using the compiled research to communicate cost-effective best practices and technologies for reducing diesel emissions to owner-operator truck drivers and forwarding and logistics warehouse operators.
  • Maintain organized files of research sources and citations.


Minimum Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in environmental science, civil engineering, or a related field; master’s degree preferred.
  • Ability to use Microsoft Excel to organize datasets and perform basic mathematical computations, and willingness to learn advanced analytical techniques if needed.
  • Proficiency using Microsoft Word.
  • Deep interest in environmental science, air quality, and public health.
  • Self-starter, taking initiative to find solutions that are not obvious.
  • Strong communication skills, and ability to work effectively with different groups including scientists, regulators, industry representatives, and the general public.
  • Ability to tailor messaging and use communication techniques that are best suited for the target audience.
  • Must be analytical with attention to detail and well organized.
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently with minimal supervision and to assume a high level of responsibility.
  • Willing to take direction, ask questions, and work on a team.

Desired Qualifications, not required

  • English and Spanish professional-level proficiency.
  • Experience analyzing air quality data and investigating emission reduction technologies.

How to apply

Email a cover letter and resume to Tricia Cortez via rgisc@rgisc.org by Friday, Dec. 13, 2019.

Rio Grande International Study Center is an equal opportunity employer where an applicant's qualifications are considered without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other basis prohibited by law.

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