Postdoctoral Research Associate - Plasma Boundary Modeling

Date: Apr 9, 2024

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37830

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 11863 


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.


Oak Ridge National Laboratory has an exciting opportunity to simulate the plasma boundary of fusion reactors and find solutions for divertor components and operating regimes that can the handle extreme power and particle loads. The Power Exhaust and Particle Control (PE&PC) Group of the Fusion Energy Division aims to identify solutions that are compatible with requirements of the divertor and core plasma during long pulse operation, including advanced concepts such as liquid metal plasma facing components. The PE&PC group performs simulations and collaborates on experiments on tokamak, stellarator, and linear plasma devices around the world.


The selected candidate will be applying the world-leading plasma boundary simulation code, SOLPS-ITER, to these experiments. The simulations will inform the design of divertor components for the next generation of fusion reactors, including performing integrated simulations that consider the core, pedestal, and scrape-off-layer with a focus to model these interfaces. The position relies on performing important validation of the physics models between experiments and these simulations, and opportunities also exist to participate in validation efforts on fusion energy user facilities worldwide.


Major Duties/Responsibilities: 

  • Perform plasma boundary simulations using the SOLPS-ITER code, make predictions for future experiments, and compare results to existing datasets
  • Couple the boundary plasma simulations to pedestal, core, and plasma material models, using existing frameworks and participating in the development of new methods
  • Collaborating with a broad and diverse team, including experimentalists and computational colleagues, on domestic and international facilities in areas such as: liquid metal divertor components; response to actuators such as Radio Frequency (RF) heating; extrinsic impurity seeding; and linear plasma devices like MPEX (Materials Plasma Exposure experiment).
  • Produce high impact publications in key peer-reviewed journals, and conference presentations on plasma boundary simulations and divertor physics topics.
  • Ensure compliance with environment, safety, health, and quality program requirements.
  • Maintain strong commitment to the implementation and perpetuation of ORNL’s values and ethics.
  • 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:

  • Have, or expected to have within 12 months a PhD in Plasma Physics, Electrical Engineering, Nuclear Engineering, or a related field completed within the last 5 years.


Preferred Qualifications:

  • Experience in plasma boundary simulation using codes such as SOLPS-ITER, UEDGE, EDGE2D, SOLEDGE, EMC3-EIRENE (or similar), experimental analysis of boundary plasmas, or both.
  • 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