Field Ecologists reports to the Field Operations Manager.
- Field Ecologist II - The Field Ecologist II is a biological sampling lead performing seasonal and periodic sampling activities and sample processing, and will be the technical lead for performing routine maintenance and inventory management on all terrestrial sampling equipment. The Field Ecologist II will provide guidance to temporary field crews while working in the field and laboratory.
The NEON Domain 8 support facility is based in Tuscaloosa, home to the University of Alabama. This relatively small town has all the atmosphere, sports and entertainment options you would expect to find as the host of a top university. Birmingham is less than an hour’s drive away, with Atlanta and New Orleans both a four-hour drive away, making weekend trips to these great cities very doable. Tuscaloosa receives an abundance of sunlight with short moderate winters, while summers are very hot, humid, long and punctuated by inland storms and tropical events.
High levels of heat and moisture can also produce volatile weather patterns, such as convective storms which generate lightning, often resulting in wildfires. Our Core Site in the Oakmulgee District of the Talladega National Forest is characterized as a fire dependent, longleaf pine ecosystem. The role of riverine flooding is also fundamental to all our seasonal monitoring and sampling efforts which are conducted directly within the swamps and bottomland hardwood forests. The Black Warrior and Tombigbee River watersheds are the primary aquatic focus for this domain. While conducting all terrestrial and aquatic sampling, teams consistently travel into three diverse landscapes with frequent overnight stays. Days and work-weeks are long, with the majority of activities conducted outside but generally balanced with laboratory time.
ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
- Lead, perform and coordinate plant phenology, diversity, biogeochemistry and productivity measurements.
- Identify local flora to species using techniques including: general observation, field references, dichotomous key, comparison with identified specimens, or other identification methods. Local species identification skills are used to complete activities such as plant diversity observations, classification of phenological stages of local flora, and sorting of plants and debris into functional group or category.
- Collect and process samples for activities such as clip harvest, biomass, canopy foliage and leaf area index measurements as well as vegetation structure measurements.
- Map and measure structural metrics of free-standing woody stems.
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).
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.
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.
REQUIRED: EDUCATION, EXPERIENCE, KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS
The NEON Project will be selecting a Field Ecologist II. Equivalent education and experience may be considered.
- Bachelor’s degree in ecology, environmental sciences or related scientific discipline.
- Three (3) or more years’ of related 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. Battelle Ecology, Inc. will not provide any kind of visa sponsorship.
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 Ecology Inc.’s insurance provider.
This position offers competitive total rewards including 401(k), health, vision and dental insurance, paid time off and the opportunity to work at an organization with a great mission.
Battelle Ecology, Inc. provides employment and opportunities for advancement, compensation, training, and growth according to individual merit, without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, age, genetic information, or disability. 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 Ecology, Inc.
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