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Postdoctoral Research Associate - Physical Chemist

Requisition Id 3960 


We are seeking a Postdoctoral Research Associate who will focus on exploiting neutron scattering for unique insights into catalyst structure and reaction mechanism  This position resides in the Surface Chemistry and Catalysis (SCC) GROUP in the Chemical Sciences Division (CSD), Physical Science Directorate (PSD) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).  


This position is joint between CSD and the Neutron Scattering Division (NSD) in the Neutron Sciences Directorate (NSD). The SCC group conducts research into surface chemistry of oxides and metals supported on oxides and catalytic reactions of oxygenates and alkanes on these surfaces.  Primary research interests are focused on mechanisms of hydrogenation, dehydrogenation, oxidation and coupling reactions with the goal of understanding the fundamental properties of oxide surfaces and metal – oxide interfaces that control selectivity in these reactions. Approaches include experimental and computational studies of kinetics and reactivity, spectroscopic identification of surface reactants under in situ and operando conditions, UHV based approach to surface chemistry and synthesis of model catalysts as an approach to understanding structure-function relationships in catalysis.  Arrays of techniques for characterizing physical and catalytic properties are in place or are currently being developed within the group. This research program also takes advantage of resources at ORNL in particular neutron scattering at the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) and the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences. The environment at ORNL is highly collaborative and crosscutting research exists between the Chemical Sciences Division and other Divisions at ORNL.


Under general supervision, the Postdoctoral Research Associate will conduct research specifically in neutron scattering measurements of surface species relevant to catalytic reactions of oxygenates and alkanes, and structure dynamics of catalysts under reaction conditions.  A portion of the work will be designing experiments aimed at correlating neutron observations with the catalytic functions of the oxides and supported metals. The incumbent will work in close collaboration with neutron scientists at Neutron Scattering Division of SNS and other researchers involved in a Basic Energy Sciences (BES) funded project on Fundamentals of Catalysis and Chemical Transformations.


Major Duties/Responsibilities: 

  • Perform neutron scattering studies including inelastic neutron scattering, neutron diffraction and quasi-elastic neutron scattering of reaction mechanism via analysis of the surface adsorbates as well as structure evolution of the catalysts.
  • Perform reaction kinetics measurement using micro-reactor systems.
  • Perform in situ/operando IR/Raman spectroscopy experiments under transient, pulsed and compositionally modulated conditions to achieve kinetics and spectroscopy information to complement neutron scattering studies. 
  • Responsible for presenting and reporting research results and publishing scientific results in peer-reviewed journals in a timely manner.
  • Participate in proposal development.
  • Ensure compliance with environment, safety, health and quality program requirements.
  • Maintain strong commitment to the implementation and perpetuation of values and ethics.


Basic Qualifications:

  • A PhD in Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Chemical Engineering or a closely related science discipline completed within the last 5 years. 


Preferred Qualifications:

  • Demonstrated knowledge of physical chemistry and heterogeneous catalysis.
  • Experience in neutron and/or X-ray scattering.
  • A demonstrated background in performing surface spectroscopy such as IR and Raman studies of catalysts and catalytic reactions is a plus.
  • Experience in chemical synthesis of catalytic materials and kinetic studies of heterogeneous catalysis.
  • Excellent records of publications and presentations.
  • Motivated and safety conscious. 
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Motivated self-starter with the ability to work independently and to participate creatively in collaborative teams across the laboratory 
  • Ability to function well in a fast-paced research environment, set priorities to accomplish multiple tasks within deadlines, and adapt to ever changing needs


Applicants cannot have received their Ph.D. more than five years prior to the date of application and must complete all degree requirements before starting their appointment. The appointment length will be up to 24 months with the potential for extension. Initial appointments and extensions are subject to performance and availability of funding.


Three letters of reference are required and can be uploaded to your profile or emailed directly to  Please include the title of the position in the subject line.


This position will remain open for a minimum of 5 days after which it will close when a qualified candidate is identified and/or hired.

We accept Word (.doc, .docx), Adobe (unsecured .pdf), Rich Text Format (.rtf), and HTML (.htm, .html) up to 5MB in size. Resumes from third party vendors will not be accepted; these resumes will be deleted and the candidates submitted will not be considered for employment.

If you have trouble applying for a position, please email

ORNL is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants, including individuals with disabilities and protected veterans, are encouraged to apply.  UT-Battelle is an E-Verify employer.

Salary Range
$48,000.00 - 76,000.00
per Year
Salary range estimated by
Oak Ridge, TN 37830, US