Postdoctoral Research Associate - Integrated Measurements & Modeling of Coastal Terrestrial-aquatic

Date: May 1, 2024

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37830

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 11853 


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.


We are seeking a Postdoctoral Research Associate who will support the Earth Systems Modeling Group in the Environmental Sciences Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). This position provides an excellent opportunity for the candidate to work with a multi-institutional and world-class team of experimentalists and modelers. There will be immediate opportunity for engagement in one or more large-scale and multi-year research projects.


You will work as part of a multidisciplinary team developing representation of coastal processes by coupling DOE’s earth system climate model, E3SM with the biogeochemical model, PFLOTRAN. The position will focus on coastal systems in the Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes regions, but candidates with research experience in other saltwater or freshwater coastal systems are also encouraged to apply. You will also contribute to development of a multi-scale modeling and observational framework operating at sites, transects, watersheds, and eventually large regions.


Major Duties/Responsibilities: 

  • Develop and test new mechanistic modeling representations for coastal wetland vegetation and biogeochemistry, including the influence of redox conditions and salinity gradients on plant growth, accumulation, and decomposition of organic matter in sediments, and interactions with hydrologic variation.
  • Work directly with experimentalists and observationalists to test hypotheses regarding variability in biogeochemical processes across coastal land-water interface gradients.
  • Publish research results in high-quality journals, and present results at conferences.
  • Assist in field work during intensive measurement campaigns.
  • 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 hydrology, environmental sciences, geosciences, coastal science, or a related field completed within the last 5 years
  • Expertise and experience in developing evaluating, and applying mechanistic models of the hydrological, biogeochemical, and vegetation components of coastal systems.
  • A working knowledge of one or more mechanistic numerical models with relevance to these systems.
  • Demonstrated excellent oral and written communication skills through published papers and scientific presentations.
  • Demonstrated ability to work effectively in both a highly collaborative team environment and independently


Preferred Qualifications:

  • A working knowledge of field and laboratory methods relevant to hydrological, biogeochemical, and/or ecological process studies in coastal systems is desirable.
  • 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.


For questions about this postdoctoral research associate opening, please contact Dr. Peter Thornton ( or Dr. Teri O'Meara (


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:

  • Login to your account via
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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:




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