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Technical Professional in Synthetic Biology and Metabolic Engineering

Date: Aug 4, 2022

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37830

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 8752 



The Biosciences Division (BSD) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is focused on advancing science and technology to better understand complex biological systems and their relationship with the environment. BSD has expertise and special facilities in genomics, computational biology, microbiology, microbial ecology, biophysics and structural biology, plant sciences, and synthetic biology. Research experiments include large scale laboratory, greenhouse and field experimental data acquisition, management, organization, and analysis to derive insight and hypotheses suitable for further experimental validation and to improve researchers’ ability to further advance understanding of biological systems.

The Synthetic Biology Group in the ORNL Biosciences Division is seeking a microbiologist 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 ljungdahlii, and novel microbes that consume monomers from various plastics. Projects are available within the Center for Bioenergy Innovation (, the Agile BioFoundry (, the BOTTLE Consortium (, and other projects.

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

  • Design, implement, and deliver R&D solutions with applications to genetic tool development, metabolic engineering in non-model organisms, metabolic pathway discovery, systems biology, etc.
  • Assist in the publication of scientific results in peer-reviewed journals in a timely manner
  • Present results both informally (e.g., in internal project meetings) and formally to sponsors or research peers (e.g., conferences)
  • Mentor less experienced staff members, students, or interns
  • Maintain a culture of continued learning
  • Work with a diverse team of scientists
  • Interface directly with internal and external partners in various disciplines
  • 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 Masters or Ph.D. degree in microbiology, bioengineering, chemical engineering, biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, or a related field is required. 
  • Experience with microbial molecular genetics, preferably in non-model bacteria
  • Effective writing and presentation skills

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Metabolic engineering experience
  • Experience with sequencing and ‘omics datasets
  • Desire to work both independently and collaboratively as part of a multidisciplinary team
  • Proven publication record 


For additional information about the specific tasks associated with this position, please contact Dr. Carrie Eckert (email:


This position is a full-time assignment, contingent on successful performance and continued funding.

You should apply directly through the ORNL careers website. Applications cannot be accepted through email or any other means.

UT-Battelle is an inclusive environment where diversity is valued and individuals and teams inspire one another to contribute fully to the organization's success. ORNL is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants, including individuals with disabilities and protected veterans, are encouraged to apply.


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.

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