Share this Job

Postdoctoral Research Associate - Advanced Polymer Composites and Sustainable Materials,

Date: May 7, 2022

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37830

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 8001 


Oak Ridge National Laboratory is the largest US Department of Energy science and energy laboratory, conducting basic and applied research to deliver transformative solutions to compelling problems in energy and security.


We are seeking a Postdoctoral Research Associate who will support the Advanced Composites Manufacturing Group in the Manufacturing Sciences Division (MSD), Energy Science and Technology Directorate (ESTD) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).


The candidate will conduct research on: (1) manufacturing and structure-property relationships in high performance polymers (such as PEKK, PEEK, PEKK) and composites such as carbon fiber (C) C/PEKK, C/PEEK,  C/PEKK and related hybrid materials; (2) engineered plastic and composite part design and optimization, (2) friction and tribology of advanced materials, (3) processing of natural fibers and composites in processes such as injection molding, extrusion processes, compression molding, additive manufacturing, etc. The candidate will be expected to work alongside graduate and undergraduate students and simultaneously execute multiple projects, contribute to development of new initiatives in their area, interact with ORNL staff, industry, and academic partners.


Our research team carries out high quality R&D focused on the advanced composite manufacturing and sustainable materials for applications in aerospace, automotive, and renewable energy industries, as well as trending areas of international composite research in material science, mechanical engineering, and automation. As part of our research team, the candidate will explore materials and manufacturing of innovative hybrid materials that incorporate both high performance composites with natural fiber sustainable composites. Candidate with experience in aerospace materials such as PEKK, PEEK in a range of high performance fibers, and also automotive materials such as sustainable natural fibers is of interest. The candidate must be familiar with composite manufacturing techniques such as injection molding and compression molding among others.  The candidate should have familiarity with characterization techniques and tribology of these material systems. Familiarity with modeling is a plus. The candidate will develop new opportunities for ORNL and partners and maintain existing relationships with industrial and academic collaborators to create innovate, efficient, and advanced polymer and composite manufacturing solutions. The candidate will be expected to simultaneously execute multiple projects, contribute to development of new initiatives in your area, and interact with ORNL staff, industry, and academic partners. A significant amount of interaction and integration of graduate and undergraduate students is expected the successful candidate will support research in advanced composites processing, optimization for composite part design and manufacturing, scale-up, and innovation as well as connect with new collaborators to solve current industrial problems; publish original peer-reviewed research articles; and supervise students.


Major Duties/Responsibilities: 

  • Design and innovate in manufacturing of high performance and sustainable composites
  • Perform composite and polymer processing utilizing extrusion, injection molding, compression molding, etc. of novel material systems
  • Conduct mechanical, thermal, and morphological characterization of novel composite materials
  • Implement advanced data analytics tools for advancement of composite structures design and manufacturing
  • Establish and manage relevant research collaborations and projects with new industrial partners
  • Present and report research results and publish scientific results in peer-reviewed journals in a timely manner
  • Mentor and integrate graduate and undergraduate students in their work
  • Help to support team goals and work with other team members
  • Ensure compliance with environment, safety, health, and quality program requirements
  • Maintain strong dedication to the implementation and perpetuation of values and ethics


Basic Qualifications:

  • A PhD in Materials Science and Engineering, Mechanical and Chemical Engineering, Polymer Science and Engineering, Chemistry, or a related field completed within the last 5 years


Preferred Qualifications:

  • A record of productive and creative research proven by publications in peer-reviewed journals and/or conference presentations
  • Experience with advanced polymer systems such as PEKK, PEEK and high performance thermoplastics
  • Familiarity with sustainable natural fiber materials and interest in circular economy projects
  • Familiarity with advanced manufacturing techniques
  • Experience with and understanding of composite and polymer processing methods
  • Experience in tribology, wear, fatigue, static and dynamic response of advanced materials
  • Passion for working with graduate and undergraduate students
  • Experience and expertise with design tools for composite and polymer structures
  • Understanding of microstructure-composite property relationship and matrix-filler interactions in composites
  • Understanding for advanced data analytic tools
  • Experience and expertise with analytical characterization techniques is plus such as DSC, FTIR, TGA, DMA, EDS, XRD, Rheology, electron, and optical microscopy
  • Experience with modifying and maintaining industrial composite and polymer processing equipment.
  • Ability to maintain current connections and network within the polymer and composite manufacturing industry
  • 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


Please submit three letters of reference when applying to this position. You can upload these directly to your application or have them sent to with the position title and number referenced in the subject line.


Instructions to upload documents to your candidate profile:

  • Login to your account via
  • View Profile
  • Under the My Documents section, select Add a Document


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 for up to 24 months with the potential for extension. Initial appointments and extensions are subject to performance and the availability of funding.


Moving can be overwhelming and expensive. UT-Battelle offers a generous relocation package to ease the transition process. Domestic and international relocation assistance is available for certain positions. If invited to interview, be sure to ask your Recruiter (Talent Acquisition Partner) for details.

For more information about our benefits, working here, and living here, visit the “About” tab at




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