Postdoctoral Research Associate - Watershed Hydro-biogeochemistry

Date: Jun 26, 2024

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37830

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 12184 


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 seek several Postdoctoral Research Associates to support research in the Biogeochemical Dynamics Group in the Environmental Sciences Division (ESD), Biological and Environmental Systems Science Directorate (BESSD) at ORNL. We are interested in qualified candidates who can apply their creativity and skills in aquatic biogeochemistry and/or ecology to advance a predictive understanding of how and why watershed hydro-biogeochemical processes (esp. stream metabolism) operate under a range of hydrologic regimes and vary within and across stream networks that drain heterogeneous land covers. The candidates will work with world-leading biogeochemical experimental and field researchers and modelers to support the Watershed Dynamics and Evolution Science Focus Area (


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.


Major Duties/Responsibilities: 

Each selected candidate will have responsibility for:

  • Leading field and/or mesocosm investigations to resolve controls on stream metabolism and associated measures of stream function from patch to network scales in watersheds with heterogeneous land cover.
  • Specific research areas include evaluating the resistance and resilience of stream metabolism to disturbance, metabolic responses to intermittency and fluctuating connectivity within the stream network, and (a)synchrony in emergent metabolic regimes along stream networks.
  • This work will be caried out in close collaboration with related research to understand how network connectivity and solute export respond to variable saturation in non-perennial headwaters, and predictively model watershed hydro-biogeochemical function.
  • The selected candidates will be expected to perform local and regional field work to collect environmental samples, conduct controlled mesocosm experiments, develop and maintain environmental sensors in field and mesocosm settings, and analyze geochemical properties of environmental samples in the laboratory.
  • Additional responsibilities will include maintaining detailed scientific records, analyzing experimental data, presenting results within the research group and at national and international conferences, and preparing manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals.
  • The nature of our scientific work is highly multidisciplinary, and candidates will work closely with a cohort of empiricists, modelers, and technical professionals from a variety of scientific backgrounds, including hydrology, geochemistry, microbiology, and related fields.
  • 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 Geosciences, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Aquatic Ecology, or a related field completed within the last 5 years


Preferred Qualifications:

  • A strong record of independent and productive research, as indicated by conference presentations and/or publications in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Motivated self-starter with the ability to work independently and to participate creatively and collaboratively as part of a large multidisciplinary team.
  • Demonstrated ability to design and execute experiments, perform data analyses, and interpret experimental results
  • Experience conducting field and laboratory work independently or as part of a team.
  • Demonstrated ability to learn and independently operate field, experimental and analytical equipment.
  • Experience with in-situ sensors for monitoring water level, dissolved oxygen, etc., and processing of large datasets.
  • Experience with estimating and interpreting stream metabolism and/or associated measures of stream function.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to function well in a fast-paced research environment, set priorities to accomplish multiple tasks within deadlines, and adapt to ever changing needs.
  • 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


Please contact Drs. Marie Kurz (, Natalie Griffiths (, and Scott Brooks ( with questions related to this position.


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:

  • Login to your account via
  • View Profile
  • 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.

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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