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Postdoctoral Research Associate - Multi-Assumption Soil Modeling

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Date: Dec 19, 2018

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37831

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 261 




The Terrestrial Ecosystem Science group at ORNL is seeking an individual with a passion for studying the natural world, motivated to take on the challenge of synthesizing, building, and testing alternate process assumptions within a model of soil organic matter dynamics.

Understanding soil organic matter dynamics in ecosystems is challenged by the by plethora of alternative hypotheses represented among existing decomposition models. The Ecosystem Science group at ORNL (Advisor: Anthony Walker, Co-Advisors: Ben Sulman, Melanie Mayes) is seeking a post-doctoral research candidate for an exciting new opportunity to synthesize process knowledge and computational models to further understand the sources of variability and uncertainty in our understanding of soil organic matter decomposition. A major component of the role will be to:


  • Develop a model of soil organic matter dynamics within the Multi-Assumption Architecture and Testbed (MAAT,, a state-of-the-art modeling code that embraces uncertainty related to multiple hypotheses and alternate model structures.


A starting point will be the Microbial Enzyme Decomposition (MEND) model and E3SM Land Model (ELM) soil decomposition schemes, with the expectation to investigate additional alternative process assumptions.

The role is intended to be flexible to allow you to explore your interests within the context of investigating alternative models of soil organic matter dynamics. You will be joining a diverse team of ecosystem ecologists using empirical and modeling tools, working at the cutting edge of above-and-below-ground biogeochemical interactions. You will have the opportunity to travel and work with a number of world-class partner research groups.


For more information please contact Anthony Walker ( | 865 576 9365).




Qualities essential for the position are:


  • Passion for understanding the natural world
  • Advanced programming skills in R
  • Research experience in soil organic matter dynamics or biogeochemistry
  • Excellent written and oral communication
  • A demonstrated ability to publish in peer-reviewed journals
  • Self-motivation and goal setting
  • Ability to work as a team player
  • PhD in ecology, soil-science, or related field earned within the last 5 years.


Desirable skills are:

  • Experience in sensitivity analysis and uncertainty quantification statistical techniques
  • Experience developing terrestrial ecosystem models
  • Programming skills in FORTRAN
  • Experience developing environmental or biogeochemical models from scratch


For more information please contact Anthony Walker ( | 865 576 9365).

To apply please upload a CV (including contact information for 2-3 professional references) with a cover letter to the ORNL job application website by the 24th December 2018.

Anticipated start in February 2019.

All degree requirements must be completed before starting the appointment. Appointments will initially be for 24 months with a possibility of an extension of up to 12 months. Appointments and extensions are subject to annual performance reviews and availability of funding.



Benefits at ORNL:  UT-Battelle offers a quality benefits package, including a matching 401(k), contributory pension plan, paid vacation, and medical/dental plan options. Onsite amenities include a credit union, medical clinic, cafeteria, coffee stands, and fitness facilities.   


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


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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