Scientific Associate II

Date: Apr 3, 2024

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37830

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 12811 


Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is the largest US Department of Energy (DOE) science and energy laboratory, conducting basic and applied research to deliver transformative solutions to compelling problems in energy and security. We are seeking a Scientific Associate who will support the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) Science Support Group 1 in the Neutron Scattering Division (NSD), Neutron Sciences Directorate at ORNL to serve VISION – the Vibrational Spectrometer Instrument in operation at SNS. The successful candidate will provide technical support and leadership to the scientific staff and user community and serve as the point of contact for operations support staff for the instrument. VISION uses neutrons as a probe to characterize molecular vibrations in a wide range of crystalline and disordered materials over a broad energy range. VISION's overall inelastic neutron count rate is more than two orders of magnitude beyond that of similar spectrometers currently available to users, and it is equipped with two large diffraction detectors as well, enabling simultaneous powder diffraction and inelastic scattering, therefore providing a detailed description of sample structure and dynamics in suitable samples. VISION offers a variety of sample environments: high pressure, in situ gas adsorption, and low temperatures. Additional capabilities can be developed in collaboration with users. For more information on the VISION instrument, go to 


In this role you will be an integral part of the VISION instrument team, working across the SNS Beamline Operations Section to help operate the instrument in the NScD user program, open for researchers from all over the world. Cultivation of intimate knowledge of the instrument systems, effective troubleshooting of emergent issues, and ownership of instrument performance are foundational to success in this role. VISION will provide you with the rare opportunity to contribute to a broad scope of scientific and engineering research using neutron scattering and becoming personally known and respected by world class researchers across the world. 


Major Duties/Responsibilities: 

  • Collaborate and provide direction to craft and technical support groups, and ultimately assist staff scientists and user groups to execute the experimental research program. 
  • Contribute to projects management and systems engineering for the assigned instrument. 
  • Develop system requirements and testing documentation. 
  • Contribute to assembly, installation, and testing of instrument components. 
  • Analyze experimental hazards, as well as communicating and implementing mitigating actions. 
  • Stewardship of general instrument operations. 
  • Collaboration with users to coordinate experimental logistics and determine the appropriate instrument configurations. 
  • Timely response to emergent troubleshooting situations (often after normal business hours or on weekends). 
  • Provide technical guidance and expertise pertaining to the suite of instrument capabilities. 
  • Sustain reliable operation of the instruments core sample environments and taking corrective action on areas of suboptimal performance. 
  • Participate in the development and commissioning of new instrument capabilities in a team setting. 
  • 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:
  • 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 encouraging a respectful workplace – in how we treat one another, work together, and measure success.  


Also responsible for the following routine tasks: 

  • Ensure proposals have all required science/safety/equipment approvals. 
  • Maintain all necessary documentation, and train visiting research teams on the safe operation of the instrument and sample environments. 
  • Work with users on offline sample testing/preparation using closed-cycle refrigerators, cryostats, high pressure cells, and other sample environments. 
  • Maintain instrument specific sample environments and equipment. 
  • Manage the timely return or disposal of experiment samples in coordination with sample management staff. 
  • Test and prepare the instrument for each operating cycle. 
  • Coordinate preventative maintenance tasks during the outage maintenance periods. 
  • Develop and maintain instrument documentation. 
  • Maintain inventory of instrument consumables and critical spares. 
  • Coordinate with internal communications/public relations staff to facilitate exposure of instrument capabilities to the public and other researchers at-large. 


Basic Qualifications: 

  • A bachelor’s degree in chemistry, materials engineering, applied physics, or related field with at least 2 years of relevant experience. 
  • General lab experience with sample processing and preparation. 
  • Experience with the operation of computer-based instrumentation control systems. 
  • Experience performing hands-on work to diagnose and debug technical equipment and systems. 


Preferred Qualifications: 

  • A MS or PhD with a focus on chemistry, materials engineering, applied physics, or comparable field. 
  • Demonstrated ability to respond to emergent situations and apply sound judgment in resolving them. 
  • Experience with CAD software. 
  • Experience with sample environment systems (such as high temperature, high pressure, low temperature, gas absorption, etc.) and material characteristics in these extreme conditions. 
  • Experience with Python or other scripted programming languages. 
  • Comprehension of basic thermal neutron instrument techniques and technologies 
  • Basic understanding of typical data acquisition, reduction, and analysis concepts. 


Special Requirements: 

  • Periods of moderate overtime will be required. You will need to be willing to work outside the normal work schedule, including occasional weekends, with little or no notice. 
  • This role may include limited travel opportunities.  
  • Work involves various physical requirements and working conditions. As such, a pre-hire physical will be required after offer. 


Benefits at ORNL:   

ORNL offers competitive pay and benefits programs to attract and retain hardworking 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 the following: Prescription Drug Plan, Dental Plan, Vision Plan, 401(k) Retirement Plan, Contributory Pension Plan, Life Insurance, Disability Benefits, 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, and Employee Discounts. Relocation Assistance is available for certain positions. 


If you have difficulty using the online application system or need an accommodation to apply due to a disability, please email: or call 1.866.963.9545. 


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