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Group Leader, Systems Analysis and Optimization

Date: Jun 7, 2022

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37830

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 8393 


We are seeking applications for a Senior Research & Development (R&D) Staff Member to lead, develop and grow the Systems Analysis and Optimization (SAO) Group.  The SAO Group is part of the Advanced Reactor Engineering and Development (ARED) Section of the Nuclear Energy and Fuel Cycle Division (NEFCD) within the Fusion and Fission Energy and Sciences Directorate (FFESD) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). The SAO Group is a leading resource for the design and performance optimization of nuclear energy systems and nuclear facilities throughout their lifecycles. The SAO Group is working to advance system modeling, lifecycle analysis methods, economic analysis methods, security-by-design strategies, and safeguards-by-design strategies for a wide range of nuclear power plant concepts, space power applications, and isotope production systems. The group supports industry and federal agencies in closing science and technology gaps that slow the deployment of new nuclear systems.  The group develops best practice recommendations, contributes to industry standards communities, makes recommendations for future regulatory guidance, and supports efforts to engage nuclear newcomers in the development of safety, security, and safeguards regimes. The group collaborates closely with experts from many disciplines across ARED, NECFD, and all of ORNL.


ORNL’s Group Leaders are scientific leaders who guide the strategic growth, development, and research progress of a team of up to 12 staff while maintaining active involvement in their own technical research. The SAO Group Leader works closely with the ARED Section Head and the NEFCD Division Director to establish the group vision, as well as develop and implement plans to attract new opportunities and strengthen existing efforts.  ORNL Group Leaders also support staff in setting and pursuing both performance and development goals, with the group’s long-term needs and staff members’ long-term career goals in mind. Furthermore, the successful candidate will work to set, implement, and model standards for performance of work consistent with Environment, Safety, Security, Health, and Quality (ESH&Q) requirements and business rules and ensure a diverse and inclusive work environment where every employee feels safe, heard, and appreciated—a workplace that sets an example for the broader community.


Major Duties/Responsibilities: 

  • Research
    • Establish a diverse research portfolio, contributing to research projects that advance the Laboratory Agenda and the mission of the US Department of Energy.
    • Maintain relationships with program leads and sponsors in the US Department of Energy, Office of Nuclear Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
    • Advance knowledge and capabilities to support improved safety, security, safeguards, efficiency and economics of current and future nuclear power plants by developing innovative methods, contributing to significant analyses, establishing best practices, and/or validating capabilities.
    • Publish reports, conference papers, and journal articles to maintain a scholarly record of research activities.
  • Leadership
    • Develop a vision and implement a cohesive group research strategy to ensure the success of new and ongoing research projects to position the group for future success.
    • Work with staff to set performance goals consistent with the group’s strategy and their long-term career goals; provide constructive feedback through regular meetings and communications.
    • Encourage staff to "think and dream big," take appropriate risks in their work, and develop skills that will enable them to pursue new ideas, scientific passions, and research programs.
    • Lead by example, using the principles in ORNL’s Research Code of Conduct exhibit as a guide for proposing, performing, and communicating research.
    • Coach and mentor staff regarding Battelle’s Safe Conduct of Research principles.
    • Demonstrate integration of ESSH&Q principles into management and ensure all work is carried out safely, securely, and in compliance with ORNL policies, standards, and procedures.
    • Exemplify a commitment to "One ORNL” by modeling lab expectations for excellence in research, operations, and community engagement, and by working cooperatively to leverage capabilities across the lab.
  • Service
    • Lead through service, in professional, scientific, and local communities representing ORNL’s commitment to community engagement.
    • Advance the reputation of the group members and the standing of the group as a whole through the establishment of collaborations, professional society leadership and involvement, and the organization of technical events.
    • Support group members by consistently reviewing technical products such as proposals, publications, and artifacts to ensure high quality and consistency with ORNL standards.
    • Build strong teams across ORNL.
    • Connect staff to your scientific network and relevant professional societies.
    • Hold regular scientific/technical group meetings and be visible in the labs and workplace.
    • Mentor and empower the staff to create a strong safety and security culture.


Basic Qualifications:

  • A PhD. degree in Nuclear Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Engineering Physics, or a related field.
  • At least six years of relevant experience in academia, industry, or research centers beyond the Ph.D.


Preferred Qualifications:

  • Experience in the development or application of system safety and security analysis methods, economic analysis for nuclear power facilities, nuclear power plant licensing, nuclear facility security analysis, and/or  specific knowledge of common model-based system engineering analysis tools, and awareness of recent advancements in these fields.
  • Aptitude and experience in independent, original, and impactful research and development, demonstrated in a record of scholarly publications or other artifacts, in an area relevant to the expertise of the group.
  • Demonstrated experience in leading R&D teams and managing R&D projects or programs to deliver successful products or capabilities.
  • A strong commitment to promoting a positive and safe work environment, maintaining scientific integrity, encouraging mentorship, and continuing the development of professional staff.


About Fusion and Fission Energy and Science Directorate:

The Fusion and Fission Energy and Science Directorate (FFESD) addresses compelling challenges in fission and fusion energy systems, enabling Oak Ridge National Laboratory to pursue national priorities in current and advanced nuclear research, development, and deployment.


FFESD traces its roots to the X-10 Graphite Reactor, the world’s first continuously operated nuclear reactor, and to early innovations in fusion research and engineering. The directorate’s unique facilities, capabilities, and talented scientists and engineers are currently tackling such challenges as extended operations of the current US nuclear reactor fleet; investigating economical and flexible advanced reactor systems; and making fusion energy a viable power source. The directorate leverages synergies between fusion and fission across domestic and international programs.


FFESD leads US ITER, which has the responsibility of designing, fabricating, and delivering hardware for the international ITER fusion project. The directorate also leads the Transformational Challenge Reactor program and the Material Plasma Exposure eXperiment (MPEX), a future world-leading capability that will produce the extreme plasma environments to test materials for use in fusion energy devices. To learn more about FFESD at ORNL go to

Special Requirements:

This position requires the ability to obtain and maintain a clearance from the Department of Energy. As such, this position is a Workplace Substance Abuse (WSAP) testing designated position. WSAP positions require passing a pre-placement drug test and participation in an ongoing random drug testing program


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.

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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.

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