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Postdoctoral Research Associate - Synthesis and Chemical Separations

Date: Aug 6, 2022

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37830

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 8588 


Oak Ridge National Laboratory is the largest US Department of Energy science and energy laboratory, conducting basic and applied research to deliver transformative solutions to compelling problems in energy and security.


We are seeking a Postdoctoral Research Associate with a strong background in synthesis and coordination chemistry to investigate and apply the principles of molecular recognition and supramolecular chemistry to the separation of ions relevant to clean energy and the environment. This position resides in the Chemical Separations Group in the Chemical Sciences Division (CSD), Physical Sciences Directorate (PSD) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).  


As part of the Chemical Separations Group, you will have the opportunity to work with a multidisciplinary team comprising specialists in thermodynamics, coordination chemistry, organic and polymer synthesis, laser spectroscopy, materials characterization, separations, computational chemistry, and radiochemistry. Our labs house state-of-the-art instruments including a triple-quad ICP mass spectrometer, single-crystal X-ray diffractometer, 2D-IR spectrometer, potentiometric titrators, and ultrafast laser systems.  The successful candidate will conduct research focused on the development of novel chelation strategies to selectively bind rare earth elements and oxyanions, and the application of these chelators in solid-liquid and liquid-liquid separation schemes. It is expected that you will publish your research accomplishments in high impact journals and present them at national meetings.


Major Duties/Responsibilities: 

  • Perform hands-on synthesis of novel chelators on a multi-gram scale
  • Use a variety of characterization methods to evaluate the binding properties of chelators, including potentiometric titrimetry, UV-vis spectroscopy, NMR spectroscopy, single-crystal X-ray diffraction, and X-ray absorption spectroscopy
  • Prepare synthetic rare earth samples
  • Execute solid-liquid and liquid-liquid separations experiments and evaluate the results using analytical techniques such as ICP-OES and ICP-MS
  • 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


Basic Qualifications:

  • A PhD in chemistry, chemical engineering, or a related discipline, completed within the last five years
  • A strong background in organic or inorganic synthesis
  • A strong dedication to overcoming research hurdles through hard work and perseverance


Preferred Qualifications:

  • Motivated self-starter with the ability to work independently and drive the project forward
  • Proficiency in chelator synthesis, isolation/purification (e.g., column chromatography, crystallization, etc.), and characterization (e.g., NMR, UV-vis, and FT-IR spectroscopies, mass spectrometry, HPLC, etc.)
  • Experience with determination of binding constants by NMR spectroscopy, UV-vis spectrophotometry, or potentiometric titration
  • Experience in using at least one of the following techniques: solvent extraction, ion exchange, adsorption, membranes, or crystallization
  • 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 ever changing needs


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.


Please provide a list of publications when applying for this position.  


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.

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This position is expected to begin immediately.



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.

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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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