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Sr. R&D Staff - Sustainable Manufacturing - Biomaterials & Circular Economy

Date: Nov 14, 2021

Location: Knoxville, TN, US, 37932

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 5196 



We are seeking a Senior R&D Staff in the area of sustainable manufacturing who will focus on advanced composite manufacturing of bio-based materials (particularly cellulose bio-resins) and the chemistry and materials sciences related to the development of novel circular economies of plastic composites and biomaterials. This position resides in the Advanced Composites Manufacturing Group, Manufacturing Sciences Division, Energy Science and Technology Directorate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).  


As part of our research team, you will be among team members based at the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF), the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) first facility established to provide affordable and convenient access to R&D expertise, facilities, and tools to facilitate rapid adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies including additive manufacturing of composites. Our research team carries out high quality sustainable manufacturing R&D around bio-based polymers, composite materials and their manufacturing for different applications into the aerospace, automotive, and marine/shipbuilding industries. Of special interest to our group is the high-volume use of bioplastics and biomass-derived fibers and filler for composite fabrication processes and their subsequent recycling and reprocessing at pilot scale. Our research team also works to develop novel circular economies for advanced carbon, glass, hybrid, and other fiber-reinforced composites.  The successful candidate will lead and support research into novel processing and manufacturing methods for high volume bio-based composite materials, nanocellulose production, and polymer recycling, including a focus on composites sample preparation, structure and properties characterizations, size reduction, and utilization of manufacturing techniques.


Major Duties/Responsibilities: 

You will be responsible for leading and expanding our current R&D portfolio in the fields of composites, biobased materials, and their circular economy. The research will span from the science of biomaterials to the application in at-scale manufacturing processes, and major outcomes from the research will include novel techniques and process improvements for cost-effective utilization of biomaterials for high value products. Research activities include:

  • Work with a diverse team of engineers and scientists seeking to advance scientific understanding of nanocellulose, biomaterials, and circular economy of polymer composites and materials, including participation in project planning and execution
  • Lead efforts to characterize and develop fundamental understanding of nanocellulose, biocomposites, and biopolymers, including rheological and thermophysical, physical, and mechanical properties.  
  • Lead research to characterize and develop fundamental understanding of polymer materials throughout the circular economy cycle using a variety of methods including thermal analysis, mechanical testing, microscopy (including SEM/TEM and optical), rheology, and spectroscopy
  • Participate in and lead projects utilizing pilot-scale downsizing equipment (waterjet cutter, shredder, granulator or “chipper”, hammer mill) for shredding advanced composite materials and re-pelletization using a pilot-scale twin-screw extruder
  • Apply and discover new chemistry relevant to polymer recycling to establish structure-property-processability relationships
  • Utilize polymer and composite engineering as well as polymer chemistry for a wide variety of manufacturing technologies, such as melt compounding, extrusion, injection molding, compression molding and blow molding
  • Design and develop polymer composites structures, and test newly developed materials
  • Manufacture composite demonstration and test articles, and conduct tests to measure thermomechanical properties of manufactured materials and samples
  • Work in a collaborative team environment and regularly interact with senior scientists, program managers, group members, and industrial partners
  • Find and collaborate with new industrial partners to develop novel circular economies
  • Mentor other scientists and technical staff
  • Ensure compliance with environment, safety, health, and quality program requirements
  • Maintain strong dedication to the implementation and perpetuation of values and ethics
  • Represent ORNL’s scientific capabilities through participation on national scientific committees, leadership in professional organizations, and presentation of research concepts and accomplishments to national audiences at all levels (scientific organizations, collaborators, funding agencies, etc.).
  • Work within ORNL teams to develop requirements and proposals, conduct research, and produce working prototypes for demonstration.
  • Contribute to peer-reviewed papers, technical reports, and proposals for internal and external release, and represent ORNL science and technology at conferences and workshops.
  • Contribute to invention disclosures, transition of ORNL research to commercial use, market research, and industry/government activities to enable ORNL science and technology use in practice


Basic Qualifications:

  • A PhD in Materials Science, Materials Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Mechanical Engineering, or a related field
  • 10+ years of post-education experience in composites science and technology or related fields
  • A minimum of six years of experience in R&D and scientific leadership
  • Proven record of mentoring junior staff
  • Experience and expertise in at least one of the following areas: nanocellulose, natural fibers bio-based materials, composite processing, polymer chemistry, polymer and composite recycling

Preferred Qualifications:

  • A minimum of 12 years of experience in R&D and scientific leadership
  • Excellent record of productive and creative research as demonstrated by publications in peer-reviewed journals or patents.
  • Motivated and safety conscious
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills and the ability to communicate to an international, scientific audience
  • Demonstrated ability to lead/contribute to the production of research proposals.
  • 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
  • Familiarity with Industry 4.0 and how it relates to sustainability/circular economies


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.

Nearest Major Market: Knoxville