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Research Technician - Earth Systems Science

Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Full-time salaried position plus full benefits and retirement plan.
Closing date
Sep 20, 2022

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Ecological restoration, Environmental justice
Job Type
Organization Type

Requisition Id 8669 


The Earth Systems Science section (ESS) within the Environmental Sciences Division (ESD),, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL),, is seeking a highly motivated individual to provide laboratory and field support for various several existing projects associated with ORNL’s Climate Change Science Institute. A common goal throughout the research performed by our team is using environmental field data to inform Earth System Models that represent the cycling of carbon, water, and nutrients within these changing ecosystems. Our team measures soil and vegetation responses to prevailing or experimental environmental conditions. We are looking for someone to support our team by independently running analytical machines, managing sample collection and data analyses, participating in field research campaigns, and maintaining a productive, clean, and safe laboratory environment. This position would be primarily focused on field and laboratory support for the NGEE Tropics Project (, which assess tropical forest responses to drought, but will also support various other projects.

This will be a full-time position with potential for scientific growth and career advancement for an independent and highly motivated individual. The position is initially for one year with full benefits including a medical plan and vacation, with potential for renewal based on performance and funding. You will join the Ecosystem Processes group and focus on plant ecophysiological research with Dr. Jeffrey Warren.

Major Duties/Responsibilities:

You will conduct field and laboratory work, and manage USDA plant/soil import permitting, laboratory waste streams, equipment and space to ensure that all laboratory work is compliant with ORNL safety standards. Responsibilities also include running a cryogenic vacuum extraction system (for stable isotopes of water) and Picarro isotopic water analyzer. There will also be periodic use of various ecophysiology equipment, including Campbell data logger systems, portable gas exchange systems (LICOR LI-6400, LI-6800), Walz monitoring PAM fluorometer and PMS pressure chambers. Laboratory activities will include sample preparation and analysis, data processing, equipment maintenance and troubleshooting. Duties will also include development and writing up protocols and data archiving. Work will involve various physical requirements and certain working conditions and as such a post offer, pre-hire physical will be required.

Two or more trips a year to existing and new field sites (e.g., Brazil, Panama, Minnesota, Alaska) may be required to install equipment, conduct measurements and collect plant, soil and water samples. During field campaigns, team members often work long hours and occasionally share housing: a strong work ethic and interest in natural ecosystems can make these challenging trips rewarding for the right individual. Field conditions can be unpredictable and strenuous: inclement weather, manual labor, insects, and unforeseen logistical challenges often prevail. Travel for field campaigns is expected to take up roughly 1 month/year.

Required Qualifications:

You will have earned a BS/BA in biology, ecology, forestry, chemistry, geology or a related field. General knowledge of, or experience with ecophysiological and laboratory equipment and methodology. You must be dependable, eager to learn, have excellent communication skills, and be available to take advanced training classes offsite. Familiarity with data processing and statistical analyses in R is strongly preferred. Willingness to participate in field research at remote US or foreign research locations is required. You must be able to travel for 1-2 weeks at a time, perform physically demanding tasks outdoors and hold a valid driver’s license and be able to pass a background check.

Desired Qualifications:

  • The ideal candidate will have a commitment to teamwork, continuous learning, a desire to improve the efficiency of everyday tasks, and a personal investment in accuracy, reproducible science, and data documentation and management.
  • Ability to juggle multiple projects and thrive within a collaborative environment
  • Familiarity with ecophysiological equipment such as gas exchange or fluorescence systems, isotopic analyzers, growth chambers, data loggers, soil water content or water potential sensors, sap flow systems, microscopy.
  • Basic knowledge of a programming language (R, python, etc.)
  • Experience communicating technical information in a concise and clear manner

Additional Information:

  1. Jeffrey Warren:
  2. Biological and Environmental Systems Science Directorate:
  3. Climate Change Science Institute (CCSI):

This position will remain open for a minimum of 5 days after which it will close when a qualified candidate is identified and/or hired.

We accept Word (.doc, .docx), Adobe (unsecured .pdf), Rich Text Format (.rtf), and HTML (.htm, .html) up to 5MB in size. Resumes from third party vendors will not be accepted; these resumes will be deleted and the candidates submitted will not be considered for employment.

If you have trouble applying for a position, please email

ORNL is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants, including individuals with disabilities and protected veterans, are encouraged to apply.  UT-Battelle is an E-Verify employer.

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