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Postdoctoral Research Associate - Synthetic Biology & Metabolic Engineering

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Date: Nov 24, 2020

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37830

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 4181 


The Synthetic Biology Group in the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Biosciences Division is seeking microbiologists to work on multi-institutional projects aimed at developing genetic tools and engineering non-model microbes to convert renewable or waste carbon into fuels and chemicals to replace those currently derived from petroleum.

Waste plastic, cellulose, and lignin are potentially cheap feedstocks for the synthesis of these products. Non-model microbes have novel capabilities that are not currently available in traditional production strains, and we aim to understand and leverage these traits for advanced bioproduction. The primary objective of these projects will be to generate genetic tools for a range of microorganisms that have the potential to serve as host chassis systems for industrial bioprocessing, and then apply these tools to engineer organisms for high titer, rate, and yield production of target molecules. Examples of organisms include Clostridium thermocellum, Pseudomonas putida, Corynebacterium glutamicum, Megasphaera elsdenii, Clostridium tyrobutyricum, and novel microbes that consume monomers from various plastics. Projects are available within the Center for Bioenergy Innovation (, the Agile BioFoundry (, and the BOTTLE Consortium (

You will apply skills in vector design, gene cloning, synthetic biology, strain construction, physiological characterization, and systems biology (‘omics) techniques to investigate microbial physiology and develop bacterial strains for potential use as industrial biocatalysts. You will also design and execute laboratory experiments, maintain detailed and accurate records, analyze quantitative data, and communicate results to the scientific community through presentations and publications. These consortia are multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary projects that requires a team-oriented, collaborative spirit.

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
  • 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 
  • Maintain strong dedication to the implementation and perpetuation of values and ethics

Basic Qualifications:

  • A Ph.D. in microbiology, bioengineering, chemical engineering, biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, or a related field is required. 
  • Applicants cannot have received the most recent degree more than five years prior to the date of application and must complete all degree requirements before starting their appointment.


Preferred Qualifications:

  • Experience with microbial molecular genetics, preferably in non-model bacteria
  • Metabolic engineering experience is desirable
  • Experience with sequencing and ‘omics datasets
  • Effective writing and presentation skills, demonstrated by a strong publication record from previous research 
  • Desire to work both independently and collaboratively as part of a multidisciplinary team
  • Proven publication record 


For additional information please see: 

 Biosciences at ORNL: Or contact Adam Guss (

Special Requirements:

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 up to 24 months with the potential for extension. Initial appointments and extensions are subject to performance and availability of funding.


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