Theoretical Plasma Physicist

Date: Sep 10, 2023

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37830

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 11145 


We are seeking a Theoretical Plasma Physicists who will focus on development and validation of physics based reduced models for the H-mode pedestal structure. This position resides in the Plasma Theory and Modeling (PTM) Group in the Burning Plasma Foundations Section of the Fusion Energy Division/Fusion and Fission Energy and Science Directorate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). The PTM group carries out derivations of approximate equations, computational code development and simulations to understand the plasma physics equations and reduced models needed to accurately simulate experimentally observed plasma phenomena. The overall focus of the group is to develop an integrated modeling capability for fusion power plant design and simulation of burning plasmas using computational models of various physics fidelities.


As part of your role in our PTM team, you will interface closely with ORNL staff on collaborations related to the development of plasma-facing components in toroidal facilities. Working with a number of team members, you will participate in validation of theory predictions on domestic and international fusion facilities to determine the physics fidelity requirements to model the plasma properties.


As a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science national laboratory, ORNL has an extraordinary 80-year history of solving the nation’s biggest problems. With a dedicated and creative staff of over 6,000 people, ORNL’s decadal vision for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) is to cultivate an environment and practices that foster diversity in ideas and in the people across the organization, as well as to ensure ORNL is recognized as a workplace of choice. These elements are critical for enabling the execution of ORNL’s broader mission to accelerate scientific discoveries and their translation into energy, environment, and security solutions for the nation.


Major Duties/Responsibilities: 

  • Provide scientific direction, guidance and/or mentorship to fellow scientists and staff as a key member of the Plasma Theory and Modeling research group.
  • Interface with experts to develop and execute proposals for experimental validation studies on toroidal confinement machines from conventional to low aspect ratio.
  • Develop and maintain physics codes of pedestal stability and structure and interact with a diverse scientific team to resolve the unique challenges that arise in  integrated pulse design simulations.
  • Routinely communicate results of your work in high-impact presentations, reports, conference papers, and key peer-reviewed journals.
  • Work to create partnerships with industry, universities, and other national laboratories to identify where ORNL experience and capabilities can make an impact and lead research proposals in response to solicitations, particularly in the area of H-mode pedestal predictions.
  • 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 fostering a respectful workplace – in how we treat one another, work together, and measure success.


Basic Qualifications:

  • Candidate requires a Doctorate in physics or nuclear engineering (or related field).
  • Candidate should have at least 2 years of post-graduate experience. The ideal candidate will have experience in an international research environment.
  • Demonstrated ability to work individually and/or as part of a team, including participation at remote facilities, and contribute based on knowledge and experience.


Preferred Qualifications:

  • Excellent communication skills as evidenced by previous reports, papers, and presentations.
  • Demonstrated success in physics model derivation, computational methods or experimental analysis.
  • An ideal candidate will have one or more of the following qualifications:
  • Experience with running gyrokinetic codes for stability and turbulence and/or MHD peeling mode stability codes.
  • Experience with scientific data management systems and/or uncertainty quantification.
  • Experience in one or more of the follow areas: MPI/GPU programming, containerized code coupling, surrogate model methods, optimal control algorithms.


Benefits at ORNL:  

ORNL offers competitive pay and benefits programs to attract and retain talented 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: Prescription Drug Plan, Dental Plan, Vision Plan, 401(k) Retirement Plan, Contributory Pension Plan, Life Insurance, Pet 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, Relocation Assistance, and Employee Discounts.




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