Postdoctoral Research Associate - Heterogeneous Catalysis

Date: Feb 9, 2024

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37830

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 12343 


As a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science national laboratory, ORNL has an extraordinary 80-year history of solving the nation’s biggest problems. We have a dedicated and creative staff of over 6,000 people! Our vision for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) is to cultivate an environment and practices that foster diversity in ideas and in the people across the organization, as well as to ensure ORNL is recognized as a workplace of choice. These elements are critical for enabling the execution of ORNL’s broader mission to accelerate scientific discoveries and their translation into energy, environment, and security solutions for the nation.


We are seeking a Postdoctoral Research Associate who will focus on exploiting reaction kinetics and mechanisms in CO2 hydrogenation reactions.  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).  


As part of our team, you will conduct research with focus on utilizing high pressure micro-reactors and a suite of spectroscopy/microscopy measurements of reaction rates, selectivity, and surface chemistry relevant to catalytic reactions of CO2 conversion, and structure dynamics of catalysts under reaction conditions.


This position is funded by a Department of Energy Basic Energy Science program - Fundamentals of Catalysis and Chemical Transformations - in SCC group at CSD. The SCC group conducts research into surface chemistry of complex oxides and metals supported on oxides and catalytic reactions of CO2 and methane conversions.  Primary research interests are focused on mechanisms of hydrogenation 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 species and chemistry under in situ and operando conditions, 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 neutron scattering at the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) and the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences (CNMS), as well as X-ray synchrotron sources at user facilities. The environment at ORNL is highly collaborative and crosscutting research exists between the Chemical Sciences Division and other Divisions at ORNL.


Major Duties/Responsibilities: 

  • Perform reaction kinetics measurement using high pressure micro-reactor systems.
  • Perform reaction mechanism studies via analysis of the surface adsorbates as well as structure evolution of the catalysts.
  • Perform in situ/operando IR/Raman spectroscopy experiments under transient, pulsed and compositionally modulated conditions to achieve kinetics and spectroscopy information. 
  • Responsible for presenting and reporting research results and publishing scientific results in peer-reviewed journals in a timely manner.
  • Participate in proposal development.
  • Deliver ORNL’s mission by aligning behaviors, priorities, and interactions with our core values of Impact, Integrity, Teamwork, Safety, and Service. Promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility by fostering a respectful workplace – in how we treat one another, work together, and measure success.


Basic Qualifications:

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


Preferred Qualifications:

  • Demonstrated knowledge of physical chemistry and heterogeneous catalysis.
  • Experience in reaction kinetic investigations.
  • 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 is a plus.
  • Excellent records of publications and presentations.
  • 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 for up to 24 months with the potential for extension. Initial appointments and extensions are subject to performance and the availability of funding.


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


Benefits at ORNL:  

ORNL offers competitive pay and benefits programs to attract and retain talented people. The laboratory offers many employee benefits, including medical and retirement plans and flexible work hours, to help you and your family live happy and healthy. Employee amenities such as on-site fitness, banking, and cafeteria facilities are also provided for convenience.

Other benefits include: Prescription Drug Plan, Dental Plan, Vision Plan, 401(k) Retirement Plan, Life Insurance, Pet Insurance, Generous Vacation and Holidays, Parental Leave, Legal Insurance with Identity Theft Protection, Employee Assistance Plan, Flexible Spending Accounts, Health Savings Accounts, Wellness Programs, Educational Assistance, Relocation Assistance, and Employee Discounts.


If you have difficulty using the online application system or need an accommodation to apply due to a disability, please email:


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