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Postdoctoral Research Associate - Peatland Ecology - Ecosystem Processes

Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Full-time salaried position plus full benefits and retirement plan.
Closing date
Dec 3, 2022

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Job Type
Postdoc, PhD
Organization Type

Requisition Id 6365 


Oak Ridge National Laboratory is the largest US Department of Energy science and energy laboratory, conducting basic and applied research to deliver transformative solutions to compelling problems in energy and security.

We are seeking a Postdoctoral Research Associate who will support the Ecosystem Processes Group within the Environmental Sciences Division (ESD), at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) with a passion for studying the natural world, with particular emphasis community-level assessment of CO2 and CH4 fluxes from peatland surface.

The community-level assessments of CO2 and CH4 flux from the peatland surface will add to existing data collections but the new work will include all treatment levels for the SPRUCE experiment. Additional automated CO2 flux systems will also be available to address nested research questions within the SPRUCE study. These questions will also include assessment of peatmoss productivity. Peatmosses are keystones species within peatlands that store some 30% of the Earth’s soil carbon. Results from SPRUCE show that warming is influencing peatmoss productivity, changing the structure of the associated microbiome, and reducing N2 fixation.

This position will have access to the SPRUCE state-of-the-art whole ecosystem warming facility, new equipment for high-temporal resolution flux data collections, and well-equipped laboratories. The ongoing study has acquired substantial pretreatment and 5 years of post-treatment data that will also be accessible to the researcher while they conduct new on-site research at the SPRUCE site.

ESD is an interdisciplinary research and development organization with more than 60 years of achievement in local, regional, national, and international environmental research. Our vision is to expand scientific knowledge and develop innovative strategies and technologies that will strengthen the nation’s leadership in creating solutions to help sustain the Earth’s natural resources. Our scientists conduct research, develop technology, and perform analyses to understand and assess responses of environmental systems at the environment-human interface and the consequences of alternative energy and environmental strategies.

The Earth Systems Science section is world-renowned for large-scale experimental manipulations and is currently leading the US DOE flagship ‘Spruce and Peatland Responses Under Changing Environments’ (SPRUCE) field experiment ( ESD staff also lead the Next Generation Ecosystem Experiment (NGEE) Arctic project (, and we are an integral partner in the NGEE Tropics research project ( We also lead the Critical Interfaces Science Focus Area (CI-SFA,, which investigates the role of hydrology on the transformation of redox-sensitive elements, such as mercury, in a flowing stream system. ESS staff also lead the development of multiple land system components in the US DOE Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM,

Major Duties/Responsibilities: 

  • Key duties will be to install, maintain and analyze high temporal resolution automated CO2 and CH4 flux data for the peatland above and belowground communities and to assess annual production, isotopic composition and community composition of the peatland bryophyte community (mostly Sphagnum)
  • The selected candidate will be expected to spend the majority of the active growing season (May through October) at the SPRUCE experimental site in northern Minnesota with the option to transition to ORNL facilities in eastern Tennessee during winter dormant season periods
  • The selected candidate will be joining a diverse team of empirical and modeling ecosystem ecologists, working at the cutting edge of above-and-below-ground resource interactions
  • Collaboration within and outside of the lab will be essential to the success of this position
  • The role will involve the opportunity to travel and work with many world-class partner research groups

Basic Qualifications:

  • A PhD in Ecology, Plant Physiology, Molecular Biology, or a closely related field, completed within the last 5 years
  • An excellent record of productive and creative research demonstrated by publications in peer- reviewed journals. 
  • Expertise, as measured through first-author publications and/or major conference presentations focused on Ecology, Plant Physiology, Community Ecology, or a related field
  • Passion for understanding the natural world

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Motivated self-starter with the ability to work independently and to participate creatively in collaborative teams across the laboratory 
  • Ability to function well in a fast-paced research environment, set priorities to accomplish multiple tasks within deadlines, and adapt to ever changing needs

Applicants cannot have received their Ph.D. more than five years prior to the date of application and must complete all degree requirements before starting their appointment. The appointment length will be for up to 24 months with the potential for extension. Initial appointments and extensions are subject to performance and the availability of funding.

Moving can be overwhelming and expensive. UT-Battelle offers a generous relocation package to ease the transition process. Domestic and international relocation assistance is available for certain positions. If invited to interview, be sure to ask your Recruiter (Talent Acquisition Partner) for details.

For more information about this position, please contact Anthony Walker ( | 865 576 9365).

For more information about our benefits, working here, and living here, visit the “About” tab at

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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