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Battelle Memorial Institute Field Ecologist I - NEON Program - Instrumentation - D6 - Kansas in Manhattan, Kansas

Battelle delivers when others can’t. We conduct research and development, manage national laboratories, design and manufacture products and deliver critical services for our clients—whether they are a multi-national corporation, a small start-up or a government agency.

We recognize and appreciate the value and contributions of individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences and welcome all qualified individuals to apply.

Company Overview

Battelle manages and operates the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) program, 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 - NEON Program - Instrumentation - D6 - Kansas . This position is in Manhattan, KS .


NEON’s Domain 06, Prairie Peninsula Domain’s core sampling site Konza Prairie Biological Station is located within one of the largest remaining areas of unplowed tallgrass prairie in North America, the Flint Hills. In addition to the highly endangered tallgrass prairie ecosystem, forests, claypan, shrub, and riparian areas are also scattered throughout the preserve. Interestingly, Konza is topographically diverse compared to surrounding areas, with elevations ranging from 1050 to 1457 feet. It also supports a diverse mix of species including 576 vascular plants, 31 mammals, 208 bird species, 34 types of reptiles and amphibians, 20 kinds of fish, and over 700 types of invertebrates. A herd of bison roams freely through a large portion of the preserve and wild turkeys are abundant. A public hiking trail loops through a portion of the site, while the rest of Konza is closed to the public and managed for scientific research, including one of the longest running Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites.

The active relocatable site is located at the University of Kansas Field Station situated in the grassland/forest transition zone of North America, where eastern deciduous forest and tallgrass prairie biomes meet. The core Field Station research area consists of more than 1800 acres of protected research lands, public trails, and specialized facilities and offers opportunities not only for scientific research, but also students in the arts and humanities and K-12 teaching disciplines.

The domain office is in Manhattan, KS, located at the junction of the Kansas and Big Blue Rivers. Manhattan lies in the transition between humid continental and humid subtropical climate zones, typically experiencing hot, humid summers, and cold, dry winters. The majority of precipitation occurs as rain between April to August, thus rain gear is a must have for field work.

Nicknamed “The Little Apple”, Manhattan is home to Kansas State University, and offers a broad spectrum of activities including, biking, disc golf, parks, swimming pools/water parks, zoo, discovery center, a large recreational lake (Tuttle Creek Reservoir), arts, concerts, and an active nightlife in Aggieville. Manhattan encompasses 18 sq. miles with a population of 56,000 people and offers all major amenities of larger cities. A city bus service is available and many Battelle Ecology employees commute to work and around town by bike. Manhattan has a newly renovated airport with daily flights to/from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Kansas City International Airport is just over a 2-hour drive and offers reasonable flights to all major cities. Manhattan has ample housing options typical of a college town.

Based in the Appalachian-Cumberland Plateau, the research conducted at Domain 07 is primarily located within the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians and Blue Ridge Mountain physiographic provinces. The domain is comprised of three research sites: 1] Core site (ORNL) at Oak Ridge, TN, 2] remote site (GRSM) at Great Smokey Mountains National Park, TN, and 3] remote site (MLBS) at Mountain Lake Biological Station near Pembroke, VA.

The terrain at all three sites ranges from ridge-and-valley medium-cover deciduous forest with elevations ranging from 800 to 1200 feet, to heavily forested mountainous terrain with elevations ranging from 876’ to 6643’.

Field Ecologist - The Field Ecologist is a technical position that performs routine maintenance and inventory management on meteorological; CO2, water and energy flux; and water quality sampling equipment.


  • Operate and maintain in-situ meteorological sensors, soil sensors, water quality sensors, data loggers, IRGAs and other gas analyzers used to measure CO2, water and energy flux at NEON field sites (https://www.neonscience.org/data-collection/automated-instruments).

  • Test, troubleshoot and install instruments, sensors, calibration equipment, data loggers and test fixtures.

  • Inspect and maintain towers (from 24 feet to 300 feet depending on location), tower boom arms, sensor mounts, electrical components boardwalks and instrument huts.

  • Work collaboratively with Engineering and Science staff to ensure high quality data are delivered.

  • Record activities, completed work, and incident tickets.

  • Maintain and utilize proper PPE and safety equipment for working at heights in remote locations (5-point harnesses, ascenders and self-retracting life-lines, etc)

  • Monitor sensor health and status through various computer interface tools (i.e. PuTTY, specific sensor software, SAS or other visual analytic tools).

  • Relevant instrumentation: Eddy Covariance Flux sensors (LI-7200 and LI-840 IRGAs, G2131-I and L2130-I Picarro Gas Analyzers), terrestrial meteorological sensors (aspirated air temperature sensors, anemometers (2D and 3D), photometers, pyranometers, radiometers) and soil sensors (salinity/moisture sensors, soil CO2 sensors, heat flux, soil temperature sensors, and precipitation gauges).

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 training, 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.

  • Participate in public outreach events and engagements (e.g. site tours, career fairs, community science workshops and conferences).

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.

  • Assist with other ecological field sampling activities as needed and assigned. This may include soil, invertebrate, small mammal, vegetation, water and stream/lake collections and measurements (https://www.neonscience.org/data-collection/observational-sampling ).

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.


  • Equivalent education and experience may be considered.

  • 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.)

  • Competency using a variety of hand tools and familiarity with different hardware types and standards.

  • Field Experience

  • 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.


  • Demonstrated mechanical aptitude, for example building, troubleshooting and repair of electrical and mechanical components.

  • 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.

Working conditions:

  • 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.

Applicants must have authorization to work in the United States. We are unable to sponsor or take over sponsorship of any employment Visa at this time.

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.


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.


Pay rate: $15.52 - $18.17 an hour

This information reflects the anticipated base salary range for this position based on current national data. Minimums and maximums may vary based on location. Individual pay is based on skills, experience and other relevant factors.


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.

As a condition of employment, Battelle will inquire about COVID vaccination status, and in the event that vaccinations are mandated at a work location (including client site and Battelle sites) we expect all candidates to comply with these required safety protocols.

Battelle is an affirmative action and equal opportunity employer. If a reasonable accommodation is needed to participate in the job application or interview process, to perform essential job functions, and/or to receive other benefits and privileges of employment, please contact recruiting@battelle.org .

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 or expression, 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