Battelle Memorial Institute Field Ecologist I - Instrumentation - NEON Project -D07 - Tennessee in Oak Ridge, Tennessee

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Primary Function

Battelle manages and operates the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) project, which is solely funded by the National Science Foundation. A 30+ year project dedicated to understanding how changes in climate, land use and invasive species impact ecology, the observatory’s scientists and engineers are collecting a comprehensive range of ecological data on a continental scale across 20 eco-climatic domains representing US ecosystems. Our teams use cutting-edge technology, including an airborne observation platform that captures images of regional landscapes and vegetation; mobile, relocatable, and fixed data collection sites with automated ground sensors to monitor soil and atmosphere; and trained field crews who observe and sample populations of diverse organisms and collect soil and water data. Once structures are completed, a leading edge cyberinfrastructure will calibrate, store and publish this information. The Observatory includes more than 500+ personnel and is the first of its kind designed to detect and enable forecasting of ecological change at continental scales.

  • Field Ecologist I - The Field Ecologist I is a technical position that performs routine maintenance and inventory management on all terrestrial and possibly aquatic instrumentation and sampling equipment.

Field Ecologists reports to the Field Operations Manager.

Location

Based in the Appalachian-Cumberland Plateau, the research conducted at Domain 07 is primarily located within the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians and Blue Ridge Mountain physiographic provinces. The domain is comprised of three research sites: 1] Core site (ORNL) at Oak Ridge, TN, 2] remote site (GRSM) at Great Smokey Mountains National Park, TN, and 3] remote site (MLBS) at Mountain Lake Biological Station near Pembroke, VA.

The terrain at all three sites ranges from ridge-and-valley medium-cover deciduous forest with elevations ranging from 800 to 1200 feet, to heavily forested mountainous terrain with elevations ranging from 876’ to 6643’.

Domain 07 is host to one of the largest and most diverse stands of temperate old-growth forest in North America. Along with the splendor of the observation sites, Domain 07 also has trying aspects such as challenging off-trail hiking terrain, stinging insects, venomous snakes, and the occasional contact with a curious black bear or a territorial wild boar.

The climate of the domain ranges from the temperate in the spring and fall to the discordant in mid-summer and winter. While winters are cool, frequent snow events and ice storms can make travel problematic. Peak sampling in the summer can also be cumbersome with temperatures in the 90s and high humidity.

Office vs field time is dependent on schedule demand, but technicians are generally in the field 80% of the time during the peak sampling season and 40% of the time during the beginning and end of the season.

Nearby Knoxville is a regional destination for outdoor enthusiasts. If you love outdoors and crave a variety of outdoor activities, then D07 is the place to be.

Major Responsibilities

Instrumentation emphasis:

  • Test, troubleshoot and operate instruments, sensors, calibration equipment and test fixtures.

  • Inspect and maintain civil infrastructure including boom arms, sensor mounts, towers, boardwalks and instrument huts.

  • Record activities, completed work and trouble tickets according to Field Operations protocol.

  • Computer interfacing with sensors for troubleshooting and remote monitoring purposes (i.e. PuTTY, specific sensor software, SAS or other visual analytic tool)

  • Example of relevant instrumentation: Eddy Covariance turbulent exchange and storage exchange sensors, aspirated air temperature sensors, anemometers (2D and 3D), photometer, pyranometer, LI-840A, Picarro G2131-I or L2130-I, Mass flow controllers/meters, Radiometers, LI-7200, soil sensors including - salinity/moisture, CO2, heat flux, wet deposition, precipitation gauges (DFIR, tipping bucket, throughfalls), humidity probe, barometer, SUNA (Submersible Ultraviolet Nitrate analyzer), multiparameter sonde, and pressure transducers

General duties include:

  • Report activities, completed work, and sampling problems according to Field Operations protocols.

  • Inspect, maintain and operate field, safety and laboratory equipment.

  • Operate laboratory equipment (e.g. Wiley Mill, drying oven, analytical balance, centrifugal mill, pH meter, microscope, and muffle furnace).

  • Assist the Field Operations Manager with recruiting and training of seasonal field personnel.

  • Provide instruction and technical guidance to seasonal field personnel.

  • Perform plot establishment by locating plots with GPS navigation as well as measuring and marking plots.

  • Assist the Field Operations Manager with materials planning, inventory and ordering as well as day-to-day oversight of personnel and scheduling of activities coordinated from the field office.

  • Follow NEON Project safety and Field Operations policy and procedures.

Field activities may include:

  • Follow established, standardized field protocols for sample collection and handling; record and verify accuracy of data from sample collections; process samples in the laboratory; send samples to external analytical labs. Train and lead field crews performing the aforementioned items.

  • Perform other field sampling activities as assigned including: ground beetle collection (pitfall trapping), mosquito collection (CO2 light traps, tick collection (dragging and flagging) and soil core collection.

  • Test, troubleshoot and operate tower, soil and aquatic instruments, calibration equipment and test fixtures.

  • Inspect and maintain civil infrastructure including boom arms, sensor mounts, towers, boardwalks and instrument huts.

  • Monitor and sample aquatic sites for water quality, biological indicators and physical properties of site (e.g. gaging streams, geomorphic mapping).

Physical demands:

The work is physical and involves walking, hiking, prolonged standing, walking and bending. Heavy items (e.g. equipment and packs up to 40 pounds) must be lifted and carried on a routine basis.

Work environment:

Fieldwork includes exposure to extreme weather conditions and terrain, pesticides, poisonous plants, biting insects, and wild animals. Tower work involves performing work on instrument towers ranging in height from 24 feet to 300 feet, which will include ascending and descending multiple flights of stairs.

Position Requirements

The NEON Project will be selecting a Field Ecologist I. Equivalent education and experience may be considered.

  • Field Ecologist I

  • Bachelor’s degree in ecology, environmental sciences or related scientific discipline, or technical.

  • One (1) or more years’ of related experience to include:

  • Instrumentation (e.g. maintaining terrestrial, aquatic, and/or flux instrumentation; maintenance of electrical/mechanical components; maintenance of laboratory equipment.)

  • Field Experience

All Field Ecologist Levels:

  • Ability to work in a team environment.

  • Experience should include performing scientific data entry and data management.

  • Ability to hike off-trail to assigned field site for long distances carrying field equipment (pack weighing up to 40 lbs.) for extended periods.

  • Ability and willingness to travel overnight frequently (e.g. semi-monthly for 3-4 nights).

The NEON Project will take into consideration qualifications for specific and diverse experience in the following areas:

  • Leadership:

  • Effective leadership skills and the ability to motivate others.

  • Effective problem solving skills and the ability to determine and act on changing priorities in a fast paced dynamic environment.

  • Ability to organize and execute multiple activities and priorities.

  • Skills:

  • Ability to perform minor troubleshooting, calibration, and repair of field equipment.

  • Ability to follow written and verbal instructions.

  • Ability and willingness to learn and adopt new technologies as needed.

  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team.

  • High level of attention to detail and accuracy.

  • Ability to make effective decisions that take into consideration safety and operational standards.

  • Working conditions:

  • Ability and willingness to work varied field operations schedules (up to 12+ hours per day), including split shift, part-time, pre-dawn early mornings, evenings and weekends.

  • Ability and willingness to work on towers ranging in height from 24 feet to 300 feet including ascending and descending multiple flights of stairs on instrument towers.

  • Perform field assignments in a variety of terrain and of weather conditions including cold and wet winter weather and extreme heat.

  • Ability to withstand exposure to fumes, dust, noise and toxicodendron plants (e.g. poison ivy and poison oak), ticks, biting insects and other natural hazards.

  • Ability and willingness to travel overnight frequently (e.g. semi-monthly for 3-4 nights) is required.

Must have permanent authorization for US employment.

Employment is contingent on background screen, drug screen, motor vehicle records check and physical.

Must possess a current and valid State issued driver’s license with insurable Department of Motor vehicle record (parking violations, minor driving offenses excluded) as determined by Battelle’s insurance provider.

Legal Disclaimer

The above statements are intended to describe the nature and level of work being performed by people assigned to this job. They are not intended to be an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, activities and skills required of staff members. No statement herein is intended to imply any authorities to commit Battelle unless special written permission is granted by Battelle's Legal Department.

BENEFITS

Battelle’s competitive benefits program includes comprehensive medical and dental care, matching 401K, paid time off, flexible spending accounts, disability coverage, and other benefits that help provide financial protection for you and your family.

Battelle provides employment and opportunities for advancement, compensation, training, and growth according to individual merit, without regard to race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, age, genetic information, disability, veteran-status, or any other characteristic protected under applicable Federal, state, or local law. Our goal is for each staff member to have the opportunity to grow to the limits of their abilities and to achieve personal and organizational objectives. We will support positive programs for equal treatment of all staff and full utilization of all qualified employees at all levels within Battelle.

For more information about our other openings, please visit www.battelle.org/careers