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Postdoctoral Research Associate - Bacterial Ecosystem Engineering

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Date: Nov 24, 2020

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37830

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 4183 

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is the largest US Department of Energy science and energy laboratory, conducting basic and applied research to deliver solutions to compelling problems in energy and security. Our capabilities span a broad range of scientific and engineering disciplines, enabling the Laboratory to explore fundamental science challenges and to carry out the research needed to accelerate the delivery of solutions to the marketplace.

The Biosciences Division ( of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has an opening for a microbiologist to investigate factors controlling the establishment of beneficial non-native bacteria in the environment. Modifying plant-associated soil microbiomes offers new opportunities to improve ecosystem function, but also represents a substantial engineering challenge. In the new Secure Ecosystem Engineering and Design Science Focus Area, we will build the fundamental knowledge and tools necessary to address this challenge.

In this position, you will construct large genetically modified populations of non-model bacteria. You will then analyze the effects of the genetic modifications on the bacterium’s ability to establish in model soil communities. You will be expected to integrate with technical support staff, as well as expert collaborators in ecology, plant and soil biology, ‘omics, bioinformatics, and high-throughput genetics at ORNL and at partner institutions. You will also design and execute laboratory experiments, analyze quantitative data, write and communicate results to the scientific community.

Major Duties/Responsibilities: 

  • Work with a diverse team of scientists
  • Interface directly with internal and external partners in various disciplines
  • Present research results at national scientific meetings
  • Publish scientific results in peer-reviewed journals in a timely manner
  • Participate in project planning and execution
  • Work with staff to develop new proposals
  • Maintain detailed and accurate records
  • Acquire and analyze data in keeping with project scheduling
  • Take a position of leadership for day-to-day laboratory operations while addressing all of ORNL’s environmental health and safety requirements
  • Self-assess experimental research skill set and identify weakness and secure learning resources to address these issues
  • Ensure compliance with environmental, safety, health and quality program requirements
  • Maintain strong dedication to the implementation and perpetuation of values and ethics

Basic Qualifications:

  • A Ph.D. in microbiology, bioengineering, chemical engineering, molecular biology, genetics, or a related field is required.
  • Applicants cannot have received the most recent degree more than five years prior to the date of application and must complete all degree requirements before starting their appointment

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Experience with microbiology, cloning, and genetic engineering, preferably including non-model bacteria
  • Experience analyzing large datasets, including sequencing and ‘omics data
  • Experience working with plant-microbe interactions is desirable
  • Effective writing and presentation skills, demonstrated by a strong publication record from previous research
  • Desire to work both independently and collaboratively as part of a multidisciplinary team
  • Proven publication record

Special Requirements:

This position is a temporary, full-time assignment for 24-36 months, contingent on successful performance and continued funding.

For additional information:
contact Dr. Josh Michener ( or email address


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