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Postdoctoral Research Associate - Synthetic Polymer Chemist

Date: Jan 24, 2023

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37830

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 9097 


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 two Postdoctoral Research Associates who will support the Soft Materials and Membranes Group in the Chemical Sciences Division (CSD), Physical Sciences Directorate (PSD) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).  The Postdoctoral Researcher who will focus on polymer upcycling, including deconstruction of commodity polymers and their reconstruction to upcycled polymers, as well as polymer electrolyte synthesis for fundamental understanding of ion transport and their application to fuel cell, electrolyzers, flow battery, and Li-ion battery.


The research will focus on developing new deconstruction paths for commodity plastics especially using ionic liquids as a media, and establish reconstruction routes to upcycled polymers using the deconstructed building blocks ( The project will involve new design of organo-catalysts, mechanistic understanding of deconstruction paths, and synthesis of new reconstructed polymers to establish closed-loop circularity. The research will also focus on the synthesis and fundamental understanding of high performance polymer electrolytes for Li-metal battery, proton and anion exchange membrane fuel cells, electrolyzers, and flow batteries ( Furthermore, the candidate is expected to be involved with other polymer synthesis projects including synthesis of novel vitrimers and self-healing polymers, development of new adhesives, as well as their manufacturing. The research will be complemented by collaborations and interactions with other polymer scientists, organic and catalysis chemists, computational chemists, as well as neutron scattering experts.


Major Duties/Responsibilities: 

  • Deconstruction of commodity plastics to defined building blocks and their reconstruction to upcycled plastics
  • Catalysis synthesis and mechanistic understanding of the deconstruction mechanism and characterization of polymer deconstruction path especially using neutron scattering
  • Synthesis and characterization of polymer electrolytes for energy storage application
  • Responsible for presenting and reporting research results and publishing scientific results in peer-reviewed journals in a timely manner
  • Ensure compliance with environment, safety, health, and quality program requirements
  • Maintain strong commitment to the implementation and perpetuation of values and ethics


Basic Qualifications:

  • Ph.D. in Polymer Science and Engineering, Polymer Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering or closely related fields completed in the last 5 years
  • Expertise in organic/polymer synthesis and characterization methods


Preferred Qualifications:

  • Knowledge and expertise in synthesis of catalyst and multi-step organic synthesis
  • Knowledge and expertise in polymer upcycling
  • Knowledge and expertise in well-defined polymers and controlled functionalization including dynamic functional groups
  • Knowledge and expertise in mechanical and viscoelastic characterization of polymers
  • Knowledge and expertise in polymer processing and manufacturing
  • Knowledge and expertise in polymer electrolytes and various energy storage applications
  • Knowledge and expertise in electrochemical characterization
  • Self-motivated, with the ability to work independently, safety conscious, and participate creatively in solving problems and refining projects’ directions
  • An excellent record of productive and creative research demonstrated by publications in peer-reviewed journals
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills, and the ability to work collaboratively in a team environment and interact effectively with a broad range of colleagues


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.


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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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