Field Ecologist I - Instrumentation - NEON Program -D18/19- Alaska
Battelle
Fairbanks, AK

About $39,000 - $51,000 a year

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JOB SUMMARY
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 Ecologists reports to the Field Operations Manager.
  • 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.
LOCATION

D18 (Tundra sites):
  • Toolik Field Station: Located on the North Slope of Alaska, in the foothills of the Brooks Range, above the Arctic Circle (68° 38' N, 149° 36'W), about an 8 hour-drive North of Fairbanks, or about 3 hours South of Prudhoe Bay. The vegetation is predominantly characterized by wet and dry tussock tundra, which can make for very difficult walking to access research plots. Mosquitoes are abundant between June and August. Weather can also be unpredictable; precipitation in the form of rain or snow can occur any time of year. The average temperature in January is -4. All provisions are provided by the field station.
  • Utqiagvik (Formally known as Barrow): Located at the northern tip of Alaska on the Arctic Ocean, Utqiagvik is a town of about 5,000 inhabitants. The majority of residents are Alaskan Natives (Inupiat), and the town can only be accessed by plane from Fairbanks. The coastal plain tundra surrounding Utqiagvik is very wet; hip waders and rubber boots are essential for fieldwork. Utqiagvik is well known for its diversity and abundance of shorebirds and other migratory fowl, including endangered species, such as the Steller’s Eiders. Polar bears can also be seen; however, encounters with bears are rare. Summer days are overcast despite the 24h daylight, and average summer temperatures are in the mid-40s. The average temperature in January is -20. Mosquitoes are not as prevalent near the coast because of the wind. Barrow has few amenities. Researcher housing will be shared, and lab space is reserved in the Barrow Arctic Research Center (BARC).
D19 (Taiga Sites):
  • Healy: The Healy site is located about 2 hours South West of Fairbanks, North of Denali National Park. There are few amenities in town; most provisions are procured in Fairbanks prior to departure. The NEON field house and research site are located along Stampede Road, in upland Tundra in the foothills of the Alaska Mountain Range. Mosquitoes are abundant between June and early August and constitute the main challenge to living and working in and around Healy. Weather can also be unpredictable; precipitation in the form of rain or snow can occur any time of year, and average summer temperatures can vary from the 30s to mid-70s, while the average temperature in January is -7. Day trips and/or overnight trips are common depending on the weekly workload.
  • Delta Junction: Located 2 hours South East of Fairbanks, Delta Junction is a small town with few amenities. This site is located in flatland boreal habitat, near the eastern portion of the Alaska Mountain Range. Mosquitoes are abundant between June and early August and constitute the main challenge to living and working in and around Delta Junction. Weather can also be unpredictable; precipitation in the form of rain or snow can occur any time of year, and average summer temperatures can vary from the 30s to mid-70s, while the average temperature in January is -9. There are few amenities in town. Day trips and/or overnight trips are common depending on the weekly workload.
  • Caribou Creek: Located 30 miles northeast of Fairbanks, this site is within the UAF-managed Experimental Research Forest. The site is located within rolling boreal forest. There is no field housing provided at this site; all work is conducted via daytrips from Fairbanks. Mosquitoes are abundant between June and early August and constitute the main challenge to working at Caribou Creek. Weather can also be unpredictable; precipitation in the form of rain or snow can occur any time of year, and average summer temperatures can vary from the 30s to mid-70s, while the average temperature in January is -15.
The Domain 18/19 Field Ecologist I primary work location is in Fairbanks, AK.

MAJOR RESPONSIBILITIES

Instrumentation (tower) 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.

THE FOLLOWING IS REQUIRED
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:
o Effective leadership skills and the ability to motivate others.
o Effective problem solving skills and the ability to determine and act on changing priorities in a fast paced dynamic environment.
o Ability to organize and execute multiple activities and priorities.

  • Skills:
o Ability to perform minor troubleshooting, calibration, and repair of field equipment.
o Ability to follow written and verbal instructions.
o Ability and willingness to learn and adopt new technologies as needed.
o Ability to work independently and as part of a team.
o High level of attention to detail and accuracy.
o Ability to make effective decisions that take into consideration safety and operational standards.

  • Working conditions:
o 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.
o 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.
o Perform field assignments in a variety of terrain and of weather conditions including cold and wet winter weather and extreme heat.
o 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.
o Ability and willingness to travel overnight frequently (e.g. semi-monthly for 3-4 nights) is required.

Applicants must have authorization to work in the United States.

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