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Scientist in Terrestrial Model-Data Integration

Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Closing date
Apr 7, 2023

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Atmospheric Sciences, Biogeosciences, Geochemistry
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Requisition Id 10331 


The Earth Systems Science section (ESS) within the Environmental Sciences Division (ESD),, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL),, is seeking a scientist to advance the integration of observations and experiments into Earth system models across multiple scales. The successful candidate will demonstrate strong multidisciplinary expertise and quantitative skills. Their research will involve developing improved Earth system model representations of above- and below-ground interactions and evaluating these models in the context of changing environmental conditions and disturbance. Possible model development topics include root allocation, phenology and function; explicit representation of microbial communities and soil carbon cycling processes; and linking these processes to vegetation demography models. Models will be developed and validated using observations (for example from AmeriFlux eddy covariance towers, trait databases such as FRED, TRY and LeafWeb) and from large-scale ecosystem experiments (e.g. SPRUCE) and observation networks (e.g., NGEE Arctic).


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. 


The ESS section is world-renowned for large-scale experimental manipulations and is currently leading the US DOE flagship ‘Spruce and Peatland Responses Under Changing Environments’ (SPRUCE) field experiment ( ESD staff also lead the Next Generation Ecosystem Experiment (NGEE) Arctic project (, and we are an integral partner in the NGEE Tropics research project ( ESS staff also lead the development of multiple land system components in the US DOE Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM, 


Major Duties/Responsibilities: 

You will work with a diverse team of researchers seeking to advance our scientific understanding and simulation capability of terrestrial carbon, water and nutrient cycles and their responses to multiple interacting climate and anthropogenic forcing factors. Identification of model biases through model-data integration and development of improved process algorithms is a primary goal of the ORNL team. You will utilize your strong mathematical skills to develop model-data integration methods using machine learning, and will develop new functions and representations of ecological processes in models over a variety of spatial and temporal scales. You will publish your findings in top-quality journals, and you will have the opportunity to participate in the generation of novel research concepts.  


Basic Qualifications:

  • 2 years of post-Ph.D. experience 
  • Ph.D. in a discipline relevant to terrestrial ecosystems (e.g., ecology, engineering, atmospheric science, computational science, biogeochemistry, chemistry or closely related scientific discipline)  
  • Experience with modeling the terrestrial cycling of carbon, energy and nutrients
  • Ability to design and implement simulation models and advanced statistical models, develop and apply machine learning methods to conduct multi-objective optimization, and assess uncertainty in model predictions, using common scientific programming tools (e.g. FORTRAN, C#, R, Matlab, GIS)  
  • Experience with high-performance computing environments
  • Exceptional interpersonal skills, an ability to work as a part of a team, and be comfortable in a multi-disciplinary environment 
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills and a strong record of publication in high- quality, peer-reviewed, international journals 


At a minimum, we request that applicants include an updated CV and list of references as part of the application packet. 


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. 


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


Oak Ridge National Laboratory is the largest science and energy national laboratory in the Department of Energy system. ORNL’s scientific programs focus on materials, neutron science, energy, high-performance computing, systems biology and national security. ORNL partners with the state of Tennessee, universities and industries to solve challenges in energy, advanced materials,manufacturing, security and physics. The laboratory's science and technology innovations are translated into applications for economic development and global security. The laboratory is home to several of the world’s top supercomputers and is a leading neutron science and nuclear energy research facility that includes the Spallation Neutron Source and High Flux Isotope Reactor. ORNL hosts a DOE Leadership Computing Facility—home of the Titan supercomputer; one of DOE’s nanoscience centers—the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences; the BioEnergy Science Center—one of DOE’s Energy Research Centers; and the Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light-Water Reactors, a DOE Innovation Hub.

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