Postdoctoral Research Associate - Computational Earth Sciences

Date: Sep 19, 2023

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37830

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 11455 


As a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science national laboratory, ORNL has an extraordinary 80-year history of solving the nation’s biggest problems. We have a dedicated and creative staff of over 6,000 people! Our vision for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) is to cultivate an environment and practices that foster diversity in ideas and in the people across the organization, as well as to ensure ORNL is recognized as a workplace of choice. These elements are critical for enabling the execution of ORNL’s broader mission to accelerate scientific discoveries and their translation into energy, environment, and security solutions for the nation.


The Computational Earth Sciences Group (CESG) at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is seeking a qualified postdoctoral candidate in the fields of Earth System Modeling and Artificial Intelligence (AI) with a strong background in computational sciences, statistics, hydrological modeling, and Earth system modeling. ORNL’s CESG conducts world-class research and development in Earth system modeling, large scale data analytics and machine learning (ML), and model-data integration at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Leadership Class Computing Facilities (LCFs).


Major Duties/Responsibilities: 

  • Work with the AI research team to develop ML and data analytics algorithms, including explainable AI, causal AI, uncertainty quantification (UQ), and data-efficient AI/ML algorithms for advancing Earth system modeling.
  • Develop computational scalability and performance of ML algorithms and large-scale Earth system models, including the scaling of algorithms and simulation models and HPC implementations.
  • Analyze multi-scale, multi-modal data, including model simulation data, in-situ observation data, and remote sensing data, and extract information from the data to inform model development.
  • Collaborate with a diverse team of Earth system and computational scientists, both within the CESG and across DOE Labs and partner universities, to apply AI/ML algorithms aimed at enhancing predictive understanding of the Earth system.
  • Develop physics-informed ML algorithms, including effective and realistic surrogate modeling and physics-data-integrated hybrid modeling.
  • Publish research in peer-reviewed journals and present results at national and international conferences.
  • Deliver ORNL’s mission by aligning behaviors, priorities, and interactions with our core values of Impact, Integrity, Teamwork, Safety, and Service. Promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility by fostering a respectful workplace – in how we treat one another, work together, and measure success.


Basic Qualifications:

  • A PhD in Water resources, Hydrology, Earth system science or Computational sciences, or a related field completed within the last 5 years.
  • Research experience in AI/ML and hydrological modeling.
  • Experience in data analytics.


Preferred Qualifications:

  • Knowledge of data analytics, UQ, causal inference, and AI/ML algorithms.
  • Experience with simulations using the Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM).
  • Experience with coastal compound flooding simulation.
  • Experience with the Linux operating system, LaTeX, Git, Python, and Fortran.
  • Collaborative research capabilities as demonstrated by existing peer reviewed publications and technical proposals.
  • Strongly motivated to perform and publish leading edge research.
  • 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.


Technical Questions:

Please contact Dan Lu and Forrest Hoffman


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.


Please submit three letters of reference when applying to this position. You can upload these directly to your application or have them sent to with the position title and number referenced in the subject line.


Instructions to upload documents to your candidate profile:

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  • Under the My Documents section, select Add a Document


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, Life Insurance, Pet Insurance, 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.

If you have difficulty using the online application system or need an accommodation to apply due to a disability, please email: or call 1.866.963.9545.




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