Battelle Memorial Institute Temporary Field Technician - NEON Project - D15 - Utah in South Salt Lake City, Utah

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Primary Function

Application Instructions: ONLY apply to the one (1) temporary position and location you would consider as your first choice. During the application process, you will provide additional domains/locations you would be willing to work at if your first choice is not available.

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 Temporary Field Technicians . These positions are located in South Salt Lake City, UT.


Start Date: February-March 2019

End Date: September-November 2019


The NEON Project’s Domain 15 is located in Utah and consists of two terrestrial and one aquatic site. Terrestrial field sites are located SW of Salt Lake City in the West Desert (ONAQUI) and South of the town of Moab (MOAB). These sites are characterized by expansive sagebrush/shrubland and pinyon-juniper habitats. Domain base locations are classically Western, with sweeping views of valleys, plains and local mountains that are fun and exciting to live and work in. The Domain’s aquatic site is located in the pristine Red Butte Canyon Research Natural Area just above Salt Lake City.

The field season will be from approximately mid-February through late-October/early-November. The terrain at all sites is moderately rugged requiring 4WD driving, UTV use and challenging hiking at altitude (Salt Lake City lies at 4200ft/1280m elevation). We work in all kinds of weather, across seasons: very hot and dry, heavy precipitation, and freezing windy days. Most crew members will spend the season working at the two terrestrial sites on a variety of sampling activities while one technician will work primarily in the laboratory setting, one technician will assist with aquatics activities and one technician will assist (as needed) with instrumentation system maintenance.

Expect highly variable schedules, including 10-12-hour days for many days in a row, as well as periods of less than 40 hours a week, as storms, wildfires and flash floods impede sampling. Hazards are generally minimal, but include some chance of encountering stinging insects, rattlesnakes, thorny plants, and potentially dangerous encounters with large mammals. Lastly, 2 out of 3 sites involve moderate to long travel times with some overnight stay required when working at the MOAB site.

Most temporary technicians will be based out of Salt Lake City, but smaller crews may be based in Moab, UT. Technicians will be responsible for finding their own housing in the base location where they are hired, each of which provides unique outdoor experiences! Salt Lake is 20 minutes from world-class skiing, backpacking, and rock climbing, with all the cultural benefits of a large city. Although the remote base locations are smaller in size, Moab is an epicenter for outdoor adventurers interested in rafting, hiking, desert sandstone rock climbing, and mountain biking. Working in Domain 15 offers the best of the West, spanning the Great Basin and the Colorado Plateau.

Major Responsibilities

Temporary Field Technicians perform seasonal and periodic sampling of physical, chemical and biological data at one (1)-five (5) field sites, while exercising good judgement and decision-making abilities to interpret protocol requirements. Temporary Field Technicians are assigned an area of primary responsibility within the scope of data collection: botany, entomology, mammalogy (except Puerto Rico and Hawaii), or limnology (except Hawaii).

Field observations and collection are conducted using approximately 30 different protocols and multiple Standard Operating Procedures with varying schedule requirements based on local ecosystem and current field conditions.

Daily and weekly work schedules will fluctuate. Workdays can be up to twelve hours long and may be split with both morning and evening work, with work, at times, beginning at dawn and going through to dusk. Workweeks can include weekends and occasionally may be up to 12 consecutive days.

Individuals are responsible for their own housing and transportation to primary work location.


  • Performs field assignments in a variety of conditions (e.g., weather, terrain, diverse assigned biomes, etc.).

  • Follows established, standardized field procedures for sample collection; records data from sample collection; and processes samples.

  • Records activities and completed work according to Field Operations protocol.

  • Follows safety and Field Operations policy and procedures.

  • Reports issues with implementation of procedures and coordinates resolution with manager and technicians.

  • Assists with routine administrative duties, special projects and other duties as assigned.

  • Carries, moves and lifts field supplies (pack weighing up to 40 lbs.) to assigned field site (which involves diverse and uneven terrain).

Position Requirements

  • High School Diploma. Some post high school, specialized training or technical certificate may be required.

  • Knowledge of best practices for accurate and repeatable field and laboratory measurements across multiple scientific disciplines. Complex and variable systems require judgment and independent decision-making abilities

  • Technical skills using best practices in field and ability to identify aquatic or terrestrial flora and fauna to genus and species.

  • Due to the limited number of positions in each domain, technicians must be willing and able to learn and perform procedures and methods outside of the primary responsibility.

  • Willingness to perform maintenance and field sampling outdoors in sparsely populated, remote locations, with distances ranging from 1/2 hour to 6 hours from the domain office. Overnight travel, hiking off trail, and wading in water are typical in most locations.

  • 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 to hike off trail, long distances, on uneven terrain, at remote locations, in all types of weather, carrying packs weighing up to 40lbs.

  • Ability to work on instrument towers ranging in height from 26 feet to 240 feet and at altitudes of up to 11,000 feet (depending on assigned Domain), involving the ability to ascend and descend multiple flights of stairs.

  • Ability to withstand exposure to fumes, dust, and noise. Field work may require frequent exposure to toxicodendrons (e.g. poison ivy and poison oak), ticks, biting insects and other natural hazards.

  • Proficiency with MS Office Suite (e.g., Excel, Word).

  • Ability to follow written and verbal instructions.

  • High level of attention to detail and accuracy.

  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team.

  • Strong work ethic and enthusiasm.

Previous NEON Project field experience will be highly considered

US Citizen or permanent resident only

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