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Postdoctoral Research Associate - Microbial Synthetic Biologist and Metabolic Engineer

Date: Aug 4, 2022

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37830

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 7086 


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 engineer microorganisms for the bioconversion of plastics into value-added chemicals. Waste plastic is both an environmental challenge and a potential inexpensive feedstock for the production of fuels and chemicals. In the BOTTLE Consortium (, we will build the fundamental knowledge and tools necessary to address this challenge.


In this position, you will engineer non-model bacteria to convert plastic breakdown products into next-generation plastic monomers and polymers that are biodegradable and recyclable-by-design. You will identify novel microbes capable of catabolizing plastic breakdown products and identify the responsible genes using systems biology and other approaches. You will be expected to integrate with technical support staff, as well as expert collaborators in microbiology, systems biology, bioinformatics, bacterial physiology, and analytical chemistry at ORNL and at partner institutions. You will also design and execute laboratory experiments, analyze quantitative data, and write and communicate results to the scientific community.


Major Duties/Responsibilities: 

  • Perform molecular genetics, synthetic biology, and related experiments
  • 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 PhD in Microbiology, Bioengineering, Chemical Engineering, Molecular Biology, Genetics, or a related field completed within the last 5 years


Preferred Qualifications:

  • Experience with microbiology, synthetic biology, and molecular genetics, preferably including non-model bacteria
  • Experience with manipulation of microbial metabolic pathways
  • Experience analyzing large datasets, including sequencing and ‘omics data
  • Effective writing and presentation skills, demonstrated by a strong publication record from previous research
  • Proven publication record
  • 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


For additional information, contact Dr. Adam Guss (; email address


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