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Field Ecologist I

Jobs Available
Expiration Date: 

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.

We are currently seeking a Field Ecologist I. This full-time, year round position is located in Land O Lakes, WI.


NEON’s Domain 05, the Great Lakes Domain, is located in Wisconsin’s Northwoods and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (the UP). The Domain Support Facility is located at our core research site, the University of Notre Dame Environmental Research Center (UNDERC-East), a property that straddles the Wisconsin—UP border. The location is remote, surrounded by mature forests, wetlands, and pristine lakes, and several hours away any cities.

Employees working in the Great Lakes Domain must be willing to be flexible, both in terms of their work schedule and activities. We work on approximately 30 different research protocols, addressing the ecology of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and each employee will work on several protocols. Most of our field protocols have an element of indoor work, such as laboratory processing of samples or data entry. Field technicians can expect to spend up to 30% of their time working indoors, although this varies considerably by protocol. Full-time staff should anticipate more indoor work, especially during the winter months. Because some of our field protocols require early morning or evening work, or several hours of driving time, technicians must be willing to work a flexible schedule. Common workweek schedules include five 8-hour days and four 10-hour days, not necessarily in a row, and with occasional variance around these schedules. Some of our field protocols require weekend work and each employee is expected to work several weekends during the field season to share the burden. Work at some of our field sites frequently will require overnight stays at a nearby field station, sometimes for several days in a row. Ticks, mosquitos, and blackflies are constant pests to fieldworkers.

The location’s remoteness makes it a vacation destination for those looking to escape the city, but it comes with challenges for those working here. Finding housing and amenities close to the work site can be difficult, and employees can anticipate commutes of anywhere from 20-60 minutes to get to work, to buy groceries, etc. There is no public transportation in the area and reliable personal transportation is a necessity. For those who love exploring the outdoors, there is a wealth of recreation to be had, such as hiking through forested wilderness, bicycling many wooded trails, paddling, and fishing pristine lakes.


Field Ecologists reports to the Field Operations Manager.

· Field Ecologist I- The Field Ecologist I is a biological sampling lead performing seasonal and periodic sampling activities and sample processing. Seasonal field sampling is conducted with the assistance of temporary field crews under the guidance of the Field Ecologist.


Limnology emphasis:

· Monitor and sample aquatic sites for water quality, biological indicators, physical properties of site (e.g. gaging streams, geomorphic mapping, etc.), and leading field crews to perform the aforementioned items.

· Test, troubleshoot and operate instruments, calibration equipment and test fixtures.

· Inspect and maintain aquatic sensors, gear and equipment.

· Perform aquatic vegetation diversity and primary productivity measurements.

· Sample for aquatic invertebrate and fish diversity and abundance.

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

· Field Ecologist I

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

o One (1) 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:

· 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.

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.


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.


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