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Senior R&D Staff

Date: Mar 13, 2023

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37830

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 10352 


We are seeking a senior researcher with a mechanical, materials, and testing background to focus on applications related to storage, transportation, and management of spent nuclear fuel and high level radioactive materials.  This position resides in the Nuclear Materials Packaging, Transportation, and Systems Analysis (NMPTSA) group in the Integrated Fuel Cycle Section, Nuclear Energy and Fuel Cycle Division, and Fusion and Fission and Science Directorate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).  



Provide research and development leadership to the group that strategically advances the science and technology with ORNL’s asipriations to be the world’s premier R&D institution and ORNL’s science culture. The senior R&D researcher brings together a group of peers with the primary goal of pursuing global scientific leadership in their field and relevant to the divisions mission. The senior researcher nutures ORNL’s culture amont project participants, and continues to build and scale individual excellence and impact in R&D.


The senior researcher reports to and works closely with the R&D group leader to support the group’s and sections scientific vision; performs R&D to advance the field of knowledge and/or technology in one’s respective specialty; sets, implements, and models standards for performance of work consistent with Environment, Safety, Security, Health, and Quality (ESH&Q) requirements and business rules; and ensures a diverse and inclusive work environment where every employee feels safe, heard, and appreciated—a workplace that sets an example for the broader community.


Major Duties/Responsibilities:


  • Scientists/engineers/analysts are recognized leaders in their area of technical expertise, especially in testing,  mechanical engineering analysis/design/evaluations, material science, fracture modeling, and additive manufacturing.
  • Initiate, lead and perform independent and impactful R&D on an ongoing basis as evidenced by, innovative science and technology (S&T) delivered to sponsors, successful proposals, S&T presentations, professional community engagement, inventions/patents/copyrights, publications as appropriate, etc.
  • Some of the research in the group includes
    • Develop digital twin models for spent nuclear fuel at an independent storage facilities
    • Fracture evaluations, measurements, prediction, and mitigation of dual purpose canisters
    • Mechanical engineering analysis using finite element of various mechanical assemblies and components when subjected to static, non-linear loads, dynamic, thermal, and/or seismic loads.
    • Regulatory destructive testing of Type A, Type B, and special form capsules.
    • Advantages of using additive manufacturing for security purposes of radioactive materials, and radioactive material packages.
    • Developing coupled physics workflows for optimization initiatives with various constraints and multi-objectives.
    • Advanced digital imaging, analysis, and instrumentation analysis of type B drop tests



  • Develop and implement plans for new opportunities and/or expand existing efforts.
  • Provide relevant input to assist the R&D Group Leader with staff development while providing direct and impactful guidance to staff on a regular basis.
  • Attract a quality, diverse pool of top candidates to help the R&D Group Leader to hire staff members who are committed to world-class R&D and aspire to be the best in their field.
  • Lead by example by exercising the principles in ORNL’s “Research Code of Conduct” as a guide for proposing, performing, and communicating research.
  • Coach and mentor staff regarding Battelle’s “Safe Conduct of Research” principles
  • Ensure all work is carried out safely, securely, and in compliance with ORNL policies, standards, and procedures.
  • Exemplify a commitment to “One ORNL” by modeling lab expectations for excellence in research, operations, and community engagement, and by working cooperatively to leverage capabilities across the lab.
  • Working with other R&D staff to develop, prepare reports, publications, and journal articles.



  • Encourage staff to “think and dream big,” take appropriate risks in their work, and develop skills that will enable them to pursue new ideas, scientific passions, and research programs.
  • Advance the reputation of the group members and standing of the group as a whole through establishing collaborations, Professional Society leadership and involvement, and organization of technical events.
  • Ensure ORNL Scientists/engineers continue to be recognized leaders in their area of technical expertise. 
  • Support group members by consistently reviewing technical products such as proposals, publications, and artifacts to ensure high quality and consistency with ORNL standards.
  • Build strong teams across ORNL.
  • Connect staff to your scientific network and professional societies.
  • Hold regular scientific/technical group meetings and be visible in the labs and workplace.
  • Assume front-line responsibility for safety in the group’s laboratory; mentor and empower the Laboratory Space Managers to create a strong safety culture.
  • Effectively communicate the importance of protecting proprietary or sensitive information and complying with ORNL cybersecurity policies and guidelines.


Basic Qualifications:

  • Requires a Ph.D. with a minimum of 6 years of relevant experience, a M.S. with a minimum of 12 years of relevant experience or a B.S. with 15 years of relevant experience.
  • Qualified candidates should have demonstrated experience in leading R&D teams.
  • Demonstrated ability to present scientific results to sponsors and technical communities


Preferred Qualifications:

  • 10+ years of relevant research experience beyond a PhD.
  • Motivated self-starter with the ability to work independently and to participate creatively in collaborative teams across the laboratory.
  • Ability to function well in a fast-paced research environment, set priorities to accomplish multiple tasks within deadlines, and adapt to ever changing needs.
  • Advanced understanding of mechanical engineering analysis, experience with destructive testing, fracture, mechanical design, and advanced manufacturing methods.
  • Experience with writing proposals and leading projects as a PI/Co-PI
  • Previous experience in mentoring



  • To group staff, for the quality and safety of their work environment and opportunity for professional growth.
  • To R&D section head, for world-leading science and technology directions, safe effective, and compliant operations, ownership of assigned staff, facilities, and equipment, and the quality of products and services.
  • To customer, for the quality of products and service.


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