Research Associate in Geochemistry
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
United States

Research Associate in Geochemistry

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37830

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 12570 



The Plant-Soil Interactions Group within the Environmental Sciences Division (ESD), Biological and Environmental Systems Sciences Directorate (BESSD) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) seeks a postdoctoral researcher with expertise in environmental (bio)geochemistry and hydrology. This researcher will use a suite of analytical tools to understand biogeochemical processes in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, with a particular emphasis on how biogeochemical processes respond to variable hydrology and salinity.


ORNL’s Environmental Sciences Division 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.


As a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science national laboratory, ORNL has an extraordinary 80-year history of solving the nation’s biggest problems. We have a dedicated and creative staff of over 6,000 people! Our vision for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) is to cultivate an environment and practices that foster diversity in ideas and in the people across the organization, as well as to ensure ORNL is recognized as a workplace of choice. These elements are critical for enabling the execution of ORNL’s broader mission to accelerate scientific discoveries and their translation into energy, environment, and security solutions for the nation.


Major Duties/Responsibilities: 

The candidate will directly support the project “Biogeochemical controls on phosphorus cycling in urban-influenced coastal ecosystems” funded by the DOE Early Career Research Program. The objective of this research is to evaluate how coastal biogeochemistry is shaped by large-scale water diversions along the Louisiana Gulf Coast.


The specific aims of this research are to (1) evaluate how water level, redox potential, and salinity vary spatially and in response to seasonal and episodic disturbances; (2) examine how a suite of biogeochemical solutes that include phosphorus are mobilized into soil solution across redox and salinity gradients; (3) quantify inorganic and organic phosphorus reservoirs within wetland soils across different seasons; and (4) explore how mobilization of soil phosphorus responds to experimental redox and salinity manipulations. Findings from this research will inform process-based models being developed to simulate biogeochemical reactions in coastal systems and will be particularly beneficial to expanding modeling capabilities within the E3SM Land Model (ELM).


The selected candidate will have the responsibility of:

  • Independently and collaboratively leading field and laboratory studies to investigate one or more aims of the project.
  • Maintaining detailed scientific records, analyzing experimental data, presenting results within the research group and at national and international conferences, and preparing manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Maintaining a safe work environment in compliance with safety guidelines.
  • Promoting a constructive and respectful work environment.
  • Delivering ORNL’s mission by aligning behaviors, priorities, and interactions with our core values of Impact, Integrity, Teamwork, Safety, and Service. Promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility by fostering a respectful workplace – in how we treat one another, work together, and measure success.


Basic Qualifications:

  • A PhD in Geosciences, Earth and Environmental Sciences, or a related field with a strong focus on biogeochemistry, completed within the last 5 years
  • A strong record of independent and productive research, as indicated by conference presentations and/or publications in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Ability to work independently and collaboratively as part of a large multidisciplinary team, and should be able to design and execute experiments, perform data analyses, and interpret experimental results.
  • Excellent interpersonal, oral, and written communication skills.


Preferred Qualifications:

  • Demonstrated ability to independently operate analytical equipment.
  • Experience conducting field work independently or as part of a team.


Contact for Position: Dr. Elizabeth Herndon (


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.


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 title and 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


Benefits at ORNL:  

ORNL offers competitive pay and benefits programs to attract and retain talented people. The laboratory offers many employee benefits, including medical and retirement plans and flexible work hours, to help you and your family live happy and healthy. Employee amenities such as on-site fitness, banking, and cafeteria facilities are also provided for convenience.


Other benefits include: Prescription Drug Plan, Dental Plan, Vision Plan, 401(k) Retirement Plan, Life Insurance, Pet Insurance, Generous Vacation and Holidays, Parental Leave, Legal Insurance with Identity Theft Protection, Employee Assistance Plan, Flexible Spending Accounts, Health Savings Accounts, Wellness Programs, Educational Assistance, Relocation Assistance, and Employee Discounts.


If you have difficulty using the online application system or need an accommodation to apply due to a disability, please email: or call 1.866.963.9545.


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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