Postdoctoral Research Associate- Synthesis and Characterization of Deuterated Materials

Date: Jun 15, 2024

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37830

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 11866 


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. With a dedicated and creative staff of over 6,000 people, ORNL’s decadal 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 with a strong background in organic chemistry for synthesis and characterization of deuterated lipids to study the structural properties of lipid nanoparticles (LNPs). In this role, you will work as part of an interdisciplinary team from different DOE National Laboratories and partner Universities that is funded by the DOE Biopreparedness Research Virtual Environment (BRaVE) initiative. You will contribute to a project that aims to develop an integrated platform for rapid characterization and analysis of LNPs to aid in RNA vaccine design. You will be responsible for synthesis of non-deuterated and/or deuterated lipids to support X-ray and neutron scattering measurements to provide insights into the structure of LPNs.  You will have the opportunity to work with a multidisciplinary team comprised of specialists in organic synthesis, structural biology, X-ray and neutron scattering, and computation. Our synthesis laboratory, located in the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, is equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation including continuous flow reactors, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS), etc., for synthesis and characterization. As part of our research team, you will be responsible for delivering high impact research results to advance the field of LPN research. You will design and execute laboratory experiments, analyze data, and publish results for the scientific community.


Major Duties/Responsibilities: 

  • Design synthetic routes for deuterated molecules including ionizable lipids to meet project goals
  • Develop novel methods for deuteration of related biomolecules and biomacromolecules
  • Use a variety of methods to characterize and evaluate newly synthesized molecules (e.g., NMR spectroscopy, GCMS, HPLC, UV-vis spectroscopy, and single-crystal X-ray diffraction)
  • Participate in project planning and execution
  • Present and report research results at group meetings and national conferences
  • Publish scientific results in high-impact peer-reviewed journals in a timely manner
  • Ensure compliance with environment, safety, health, and quality program requirements
  • Maintain strong dedication to the implementation and perpetuation of 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:

  • A PhD in Chemistry, Biochemistry, or a related field completed within the last 5 years


Preferred Qualifications:

  • Hands-on experience in synthesis and characterization of deuterated or other isotopic molecules
  • A strong background in multi-step synthesis of lipids or other organic molecules including experience with isolation/purification techniques (e.g., column chromatography, crystallization, HPLC, flash column, etc.), and characterization methods (e.g., NMR, UV-vis, and FT-IR spectroscopies, mass spectrometry, etc.)
  • Experience in synthesis and characterization of LPNs
  • Highly motivated and enthusiastic self-starter with the ability to work independently to drive projects forward
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Ability to function well in a fast-paced research environment, set priorities to accomplish multiple tasks within deadlines, and adapt to changing needs
  • Ability to participate creatively in collaborative teams


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:

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  • 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.


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.

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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.

Nearest Major Market: Knoxville