Research Assistant

Job ID
Location : Location
US-MA-Woods Hole

Job Summary

Join our team studying paleoceanography and paleoclimate. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is currently searching for a Research Assistant to join the Geology and Geophysics Department. This is a regular, full-time, non-exempt position, and is eligible for benefits. 


We are seeking a scientifically curious, reliable, and detail-oriented individual to assist with a variety of lab- and field-related activities, with possibilities to also work with other lab groups and in facilities. Our labs perform cutting-edge research on oceanographic changes and climate impacts in the recent past (e.g., sea-level rise, paleotempestology, hydroclimate).


The individual will assist with general research needs and activities. Responsibilities include sampling sediment cores from around the world, prepping samples (washing and sieving sediment), and identifying and picking benthic and planktic foraminifera for isotope and elemental ratio analysis from the washed sediment. Additional tasks include acid-cleaning labware; high precision weighing; pipetting, sieving, laser grain size analyzing, gamma radioisotope counting, CT scanning, preparing samples for stable isotope analysis and elemental ratio analysis on an Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer. An ideal candidate would have previous experience with some of these tasks and be diligent about documenting protocols used, data entry, and updating and maintaining databases.


Online application forms should be submitted with a cover letter and resume. In your cover letter, please include information about your previous lab experience, previous experience with Excel and/or other programming languages, and why you are interested in this position.


This is initially a one-year position from the date of hire, with the possibility of it being extended. This could be a great opportunity to help recent college/university graduates develop skills and transition into the geosciences workforce or graduate school. 


WHOI is committed to broadening participation in geosciences, and applicants whose backgrounds are underrepresented in STEM are especially encouraged to apply.


The internal working title for this position will be Research Assistant I, Research Assistant II, or Research Assistant III

Essential Functions


  • Executes designated research tasks, making use of selected laboratory experiments, equipment, data acquisition and processing, statistical analyses or other investigative techniques;
  • Prepares data or material for analysis or presentation using standard research techniques;
  • Processes, analyzes, and organizes data according to established technical procedures;
  • Maintains records and databases related to research and/or research equipment;
  • Communicates effectively with supervisors, particularly regarding prioritization of tasks.

Non-essential functions:

  • As deemed necessary by supervisor

Education & Experience

Research Assistant I: A Bachelor’s degree in Geology, Biology, Environmental Science, Marine Science or a related field is required. Relevant work experience is desirable.


Research Assistant II: Bachelor's degree in related field, or Bachelor's degree in non-related field plus two years' related experience, or Associate's degree in related field plus three years' related experience, or High School diploma or equivalent plus five years' related experience


Research Assistant III:

  • Master's degree in related field, or Bachelor's degree in related field plus three years' related experience, or Bachelor's degree in nonrelated field plus five years' related experience, or Associate's degree in related field plus six years' related experience, or High School diploma or equivalent plus eight years' related experience.


  • Bachelor's degree in a STEM field.
  • Geochemistry and/or sedimentology lab experience.
  • Familiarity with Excel and/or programming languages (e.g., MATLAB, R, Python).


Desirable, but not required

  • Experience in sedimentology lab, including processing samples, sieving, and identifying and picking foraminifera
  • Experience in trace-metal-free clean lab environments.
  • Ability to work independently.
  • Ability to learn new techniques.
  • Ability to work professionally with people from many different disciplines.
  • Ability to document methods and results.
  • Experience with data analysis.
  • Experience with database entry and management skills.
  • Excellent communication, critical thinking, time management, and organizational skills

 Applicants who do not have this experience, but are willing to learn, are encouraged to apply.

Special Requirements


Physical Requirements

The position will be split between lab work and computer work. Physical duties for this position include but are not limited to, ability to lift 25-50 lbs; and/or carry 10-25 lbs. Visual abilities to include near, far, and peripheral. Hearing requirements include the ability to hear and respond to instructions and communicate effectively. Other physical tasks include occasional prolonged standing/walking; use of hands for basic /fine grasping and manipulation, repetitive motion, reaching above and below the shoulders, and bending. Other occupational requirements include working around others, with others, and alone. Physical duties are subject to change.

Sea Duty

There is a possibility of going to sea for field sampling.  


Sea Duty: May work at least 8 hours per day and, at times in excess of 12 hours per day, 7 days per week. Sleep and work hours can deviate from those on land. May be expected to work on watch schedule (such as 8 hours on and 8 hours off or 12 hours on and 8 hours off) for all or part of a cruise or to work as hours are needed to accomplish the planned work. May need to travel during holidays and for long distances to and from foreign ports. May experience rudimentary living and working conditions, with shared and basic living quarters and laboratories. May experience bad or extreme weather conditions, including heavy seas, winter weather or hot, tropical weather. Work on deck may occur in both hot and cold conditions around the clock. Sea conditions will lead to active ship motion. Should be able to climb steep and vertical ladders and able to enter and exit compartments through hatches, doors, and sills. Should be able to carry heavy gear and participate in the loading and unloading of the ship as well as in the activities on deck and in the labs during the cruise. Shipboard environment may include: confined areas, shared sleeping quarters (berths) and bathroom facilities, small and basic berthing, fixed meal times and basic menus. Modest levels of heating, cooling, ventilation, and illumination, limited or no email and internet access and limited off-duty and recreational facilities (library, lounge, movies). May be exposed to potential allergens and irritants, including paint fumes. May experience constant and intermittent loud noises, and slippery and uneven surfaces.


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