Postdoctoral Research Associate - Tropical Root Allocation and Function

Oak Ridge, Tennessee
competitive salary, full benefits, paid relocation, paid vacation, on-site fitness / wellness center
Nov 20, 2018
Dec 20, 2018
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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 data and building models to understand tropical forest resource acquisition, use, and allocation; with a focus below ground.


Main Duties / Responsibilities


Understanding resource acquisition, use, and allocation remains challenged by a lack of root related data, especially in tropical forests. Roots are fundamental for plant resource acquisition and survival, yet datasets are scarce and scattered across research groups. The Ecosystem Science group at ORNL (Advisor: Anthony Walker) and the multi-lab Next Generation Ecosystem Experiment (NGEE) - Tropics are seeking a post-doctoral research candidate for an exciting new opportunity to synthesise knowledge and data with key partners to further understand the role of roots in tropical forest resource acquisition, use, and allocation. A major component of the role will be:

  • Synthesis and analysis of root and other data from key partners in the ForestGEO ( and GEM ( networks to help inform the development and evaluation of resource acquisition and allocation modules in the new Functionally Assembled Terrestrial Ecosystem Simulator (FATES).

The role is intended to be flexible to allow the successful candidate to explore her or his interests within the scope of the role. Possible research areas include:

  • Development of empirical and conceptual models of tropical forest resource acquisition, use, and allocation
  • Developing methods to scale function from individual roots to ecosystems  

You will be joining a diverse team of empirical and modeling ecosystem ecologists, working at the cutting edge of above-and-below-ground resource interactions. The role will involve the opportunity to travel and work with many world-class partner research groups.




Qualities essential for the position are:

  • Passion for understanding the natural world
  • Excellent written and oral communication
  • Excellent inter-personal skills
  • Willingness to travel on a regular basis
  • A demonstrated ability to publish in quality peer-reviewed journals
  • Self-motivation and goal setting
  • Ability to work as a team player
  • PhD in ecology, botany, or related field earned within the last five years 
  • Experience in data collation, synthesis, analysis, and management
  • Programming skills in data analysis languages R and / or Python
  • Competence in statistical techniques to analyse complex ecological datasets such as mixed-effects models, generalized models, etc.


Appointments will initially be for 24 months with a possibility of an extension of up to 12 months. Initial appointments and extensions are subject to performance and availability of funding.


Desirable skills are:

  • Experience developing terrestrial ecosystem models
  • Programming skills in FORTRAN


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

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


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

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.