Research Associate in Biology
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
United States

Postdoctoral Research Associate - Plant Systems Biology

Date: Jan 31, 2024

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37830

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 12432 



Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is the largest US Department of Energy science and energy laboratory, conducting basic and applied research to deliver solutions to compelling problems in energy and security. Our capabilities span a broad range of scientific and engineering disciplines, enabling the Laboratory to explore fundamental science challenges and to carry out the research needed to accelerate the delivery of solutions to the marketplace.


The Biosciences Division ( of ORNL has an opening for a plant biologist (Postdoctoral Research Associate, Plant Systems Biology) to conduct basic research on plant genes and phenotypes that are foundational to developing sustainable biomass feedstocks. Selected applicant will join a team of diverse, cross-disciplinary scientific and technical staff working to characterize and understand the variation in plant phenotyping traits and response to microbial inoculation and abiotic stresses and link these to genetic information under the Plant-Microbe Interfaces (PMI) Scientific Focus Area project (


Major Duties/Responsibilities: 

The Plant Systems Biology Group seeks to explore and understand the network of traits, genes, proteins, metabolites, and environmental signals that lead to improved plant characteristics and performance. The selected candidate will be based in the plant systems biology group, which is undertaking broad, integrated approaches to enhance fundamental understanding of genetic controls of plant productivity, biomass quality and sustainability, and carbon sequestration using bioenergy-relevant plants. The specific project will be within the Plant-Microbe Interfaces SFA which seeks to understand how the soil microbiome interacts with Poplar species, and specifically how microbes interact with root traits and plant physiology to make resilient plants. The successful applicant would have access to state-of-the-art technologies such as the Advanced Plant Phenotyping Laboratory, rhizoboxes, and microfluidics devices such as rhizosphere-on-a-chip. Major duties/responsibilities include:

  • Utilize the state-of-the-art Advanced Plant Phenotyping Laboratory in collaboration with experts in image-based phenotyping to understand how microbes interact with poplar

  • Measure phenotypic traits in shoots and roots in lab, greenhouse and field (2 weeks travel a year)

  • Perform stress assays

  • Perform microbial inoculation assays

  • Link phenotype to genotype

  • Present research progress in project meetings and national/international conferences

  • Publish scientific results in peer-reviewed journals in a timely manner

  • Maintain detailed and accurate records

  • Acquire and analyze data in keeping with project scheduling

  • Ensure compliance with environmental, safety, health and quality program requirements

  • Maintain strong dedication to the implementation and perpetuation of values and ethics


Basic Qualifications:

  • A Ph.D. in plant biology, crop science, ecology, or related fields. Applicants cannot have received the most recent degree more than five years prior to the date of application and must complete all degree requirements before starting their appointment.


Preferred Qualifications:

  • Experience in whole-plant physiology, including measures of photosynthesis, leaves, shoots, and roots

  • Experience in measuring root traits

  • Experience in image analysis

  • Experience in plant-microbe co-cultures

  • Experience with metabolite or root exudate measurements using analytical chemistry tools

  • Experience in plant stress assays

  • Experience working with Populus plants

  • Experience with genetic analyses like GWAS or molecular biology skills

  • Effective writing and communication skills with a strong publication record

  • Desire to work both independently and collaboratively as part of a multidisciplinary team


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 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


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.


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


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

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.


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