Postdoctoral Research Associate - Multi-Assumption Soil Modeling

Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Full-time salaried position, plus benefits, full relocation assistance
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, 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 


You cannot have received your PhD degree more than five years prior to the date of application and you must complete all degree requirements 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. 



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



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.