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Postdoctoral Research Associate - Structural Biology, Biochemistry and Biophysics

Date: Jun 10, 2021

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37830

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 5629 


The Single Crystal Diffraction Group, Diffraction Section in the Neutron Scattering Division (NSD) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has an immediate opening for a Postdoctoral Research Associate in macromolecular X-ray and neutron crystallography and neutron vibrational spectroscopy to investigate the structure-dynamics-function relationships of pyridoxal-5’-phosphate (PLP)-dependent enzymes and their complexes involved in bacterial infections and cancer.

In this position, you will be expected to contribute to the development of methodology for investigating the structure and dynamics of PLP-dependent enzymes using X-ray and neutron crystallography, inelastic neutron scattering and molecular simulations in combination with other experimental approaches with the ultimate goal to understand the substrate specificity of these enzymes. You will join a multi-disciplinary research team that is developing and applying isotopic labeling, neutron diffraction and scattering techniques to understand and control the structure, function and dynamics of the enzymes. As an ORNL Postdoctoral Fellow you will have access to state-of-the-art facilities for isotopic labeling, biophysical characterization and X-ray diffraction, as well as access to world-class facilities for neutron diffraction and scattering. The position will allow the postdoctoral scientist to develop expertise, broaden experience and interact with a diverse set of scientists working and visiting ORNL’s neutron and nanomaterial science facilities.


Desirable skills include expertise in biological structure determination using X-ray and neutron diffraction techniques, protein expression and purification, protein crystallization and molecular simulations (QM, QM/MM and or MD). You will also have access to a suite of biophysical characterization tools, as well as external synchrotron facilities.

This position will be mentored by Andrey Kovalevsky. You also will work closely with research staff and other postdoctoral associates in NSD and across ORNL.

Major Duties and Responsibilities

  • Employ methods to study and understand the structure, function and dynamics of enzymes and enzyme-ligand complexes using neutron and X-ray scattering and diffraction and complementary techniques at ORNL.
  • Employ neutron vibrational spectroscopy methodology in combination with MD simulations to study fast picosecond protein vibrational dynamics.
  • Employ QM and/or QM/MM methodologies to describe proton transfer in PLP-dependent enzymes using neutron crystal structures.
  • Publish scientific papers resulting from this research and present results at appropriate national and international meetings.
  • Physical requirements for this job include the use of hand and eye protection gear, kneeling, sitting for extended periods of time, working with sample environment equipment, and possible exposure to ionizing radiation normally associated with operation of X-ray and neutron scattering instruments for scientific research.
  • Ensure compliance with environment, safety, health and quality program requirements.
  • The SNS facility is in operation 24 hours per day and 7 days a week ~200 days/year. Some experiment-based efforts may occasionally require off hours or weekends.
  • As a member of the ORNL scientific community, you will be expected to commit to ORNL's Research Code of Conduct. Our full code of conduct, and a statement by the Lab Director's office can be found here:


Basic Qualifications

  • A Ph.D. in biophysics, structural biology or protein chemistry.
  • Candidates with a Ph.D. in related fields such as physics, physical chemistry or similar, who have relevant experience in biological structure research will also be considered.
  • Previous experience and strong knowledge of molecular biology, protein expression, purification and crystallization, and biomacromolecular crystallography are required.
  • Applicants must have received their PhD within five years of this application and must complete all degree requirements before starting their appointment.
  • A strong record of productive and creative research demonstrated by publications in peer-reviewed journals and presentations at scientific conferences.
  • The candidate should be self-motivated, have good interpersonal, communication, and presentation skills.


Preferred Qualifications

  • Experience in crystallization of neutron-quality protein crystals, structure determination and analysis of protein-ligand complexes.
  • Experience in room-temperature X-ray and/or neutron diffraction.
  • Experience in other biophysical characterization methods.
  • Demonstrated ability to interact effectively with research staff at all levels and to work within a multi-disciplinary team.

Other Information:

  • Appointments will initially be for 24 months with a possibility of an extension of up to 12 months
  • Initial appointments and extensions are subject to performance and availability of funding
  • Provide a current curriculum vitae including a list of publications when applying for this position
  • If you are selected for interview, you will be required to send in a minimum of two letters of reference


About Neutron Sciences Directorate:
The Neutron Sciences Directorate (NScD) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) operates the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR), the United States’ highest flux reactor-based neutron source, and the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS), the world’s most intense pulsed accelerator-based neutron source.  Together these facilities operate 30 instruments for neutron scattering research, each year carrying out in excess of 1,000 experiments in the physical, chemical, materials, biological and medical sciences for more than 3,000 visiting scientists.  HFIR also provides unique facilities for isotope production and neutron irradiation.  To learn more about Neutron Sciences at ORNL go to

Benefits at ORNL:
UT-Battelle offers a quality benefits package, including a matching 401(k), contributory pension plan, paid vacation, and medical/dental plan options.  Onsite amenities include a credit union, medical clinic, cafeteria, and fitness facilities.

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.

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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.

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