Group Leader, Ecosystem Processes

Date: Nov 10, 2023

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37830

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 12032 


The Environmental Sciences Division (ESD),, in the Biological and Environmental Systems Science (BESS) Directorate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL),, is seeking candidates to fill the Group Leader position for the Ecosystem Processes group in the Earth Systems Science section.


The Ecosystem Processes group advances mechanistic understanding of the spatial and temporal dynamics of Earth’s vital and changing ecosystems by using unprecedented ecosystem-scale manipulation experiments, observations, and integrated modeling. A whole-ecosystem approach is taken to provide a complete picture of ecosystem processes. The group represents a long-history of world-class manipulation experiments which have resulted in some of the most detailed studies of ecosystems and their responses to environmental change to date. The goal of the group is mechanistic understanding of coupled carbon, water, and nutrient cycling within and across ecosystems. The group currently includes five research professionals, two technical professionals, two technicians, and two post-doctoral researchers.


Group Leadership is recognized as the foundation for excellence across ORNL. This is a crucial role in connecting the creative energy and technical expertise of each staff member to the projects, programs, and vision of the broader organization. Mentoring, career development, and building collaborative relationships to engage other groups across ORNL are all important dimensions of the group leader role.


ESD is an interdisciplinary research and development organization with 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 staff explore how genes, organisms, populations, and communities influence, and are influenced by, the management, health, and sustainability of ecological systems; work to understand and predict how terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems exchange carbon, water, nutrients, and trace elements across multiple spatial and temporal scales; and advance next-generation computational and data analytics to extract and transfer information to understand ecosystems and their representation in numerical models.


Major Duties/Responsibilities:

Group Leaders within the Earth Systems Science section major duties and responsibilities include:



  • Scientists/engineers/analysts are recognized leaders in their area of technical expertise. Initiates, leads and performs independent R&D on an ongoing basis. 



  • Develop a vision and implement a cohesive group research strategy to ensure the success of new and ongoing research projects to position the group for future success.  
  • Develop and implement plans to exploit new opportunities and/or expand existing efforts. 
  • Assist staff in setting performance goals consistent with the group’s strategy and members’ long-term career goals. Provide feedback to address performance issues in a timely manner. 
  • Provide relevant input to assist the R&D Section Head with staff development while providing direct and impactful guidance to staff on regular basis. 
  • Attract a quality, diverse pool of top candidates and hire staff members who are committed to world-class R&D and aspire to be the best in their field.  
  • Lead by example by exercising the principles in ORNL’s “Research Code of Conduct” as a guide for proposing, performing, and communicating research. 
  • Coach and mentor staff regarding Battelle’s “Safe Conduct of Research” principles  
  • Lead ESH&Q by example and ensure all work is carried out safely, securely, and in compliance with ORNL policies, standards, and procedures. 
  • Exemplify a commitment to “One ORNL” by modeling lab expectations for excellence in research, operations, and community engagement, and by working cooperatively to leverage capabilities across the lab.  



  • Serve as immediate supervisor for staff members in group. 
  • Encourage staff to “think and dream big,” take appropriate risks in their work, and develop skills that will enable them to pursue new ideas, scientific passions, and research programs.  
  • Advance the reputation of the group members and standing of the group as a whole through establishing collaborations, Professional Society leadership and involvement, and organization of technical events. 
  • Support group members by consistently reviewing technical products such as proposals, publications, and artifacts to ensure high quality and consistency with ORNL standards. 
  • Build strong teams across ORNL.  
  • Connect staff to your scientific network and professional societies. 
  • Hold regular scientific/technical group meetings and be visible in the labs and workplace. 
  • Assume front-line responsibility for safety in the group’s laboratory; mentor and empower the Laboratory Space Managers to create a strong safety culture. 
  • Effectively communicate the importance of protecting proprietary or sensitive information and complying with ORNL cybersecurity policies and guidelines. 



  • To group staff, for the quality and safety of their work environment and opportunity for professional growth. 
  • To R&D section head, for world-leading science and technology directions, safe effective, and compliant operations, ownership of assigned staff, facilities, and equipment, and the quality of products and services. 
  • To customer, for the quality of products and service. 



  • Develop a vision and implement a strategy to pursue world-leading science and technology directions for the R&D group. 
  • Hold staff accountable for performance. 
  • Act to ensure safe and effective operations. 
  • Hire staff.  
  • Certify the technical quality of the group’s products and services. 


Basic Qualifications:

  • Requires a Ph.D. with a minimum of 6 years relevant experience, a M.S. with a minimum of 12 years experiences, B.S. with 15 years of experience. 
  • Qualified candidates should have demonstrated experience in leading R&D teams. 


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 environment, set priorities to accomplish multiple tasks within deadlines, and adapt to ever changing needs. 
  • Experience engaging with the national laboratory complex
  • General knowledge of the broad mission space of Office of Science, specifically the Office of Biological and Environmental Research 


Relocation: 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 our benefits, working here, and living here, visit the “About” tab at


Benefits at ORNL:  

ORNL offers competitive pay and benefits programs to attract and retain talented people. The laboratory offers many employee benefits, including medical and retirement plans and flexible work hours, to help you and your family live happy and healthy. Employee amenities such as on-site fitness, banking, and cafeteria facilities are also provided for convenience.


Other benefits include: Prescription Drug Plan, Dental Plan, Vision Plan, 401(k) Retirement Plan, Contributory Pension Plan, Life Insurance, Pet Insurance, Disability Benefits, Generous Vacation and Holidays, Parental Leave, Legal Insurance with Identity Theft Protection, Employee Assistance Plan, Flexible Spending Accounts, Health Savings Accounts, Wellness Programs, Educational Assistance, Relocation Assistance, and Employee Discounts.




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.

Nearest Major Market: Knoxville