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Postdoctoral Research Associate - Polymer Synthesis

Requisition Id 7201 

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 a Postdoctoral Research Associate who will support the Soft Matter Group in the Chemical Sciences Division, Physical Sciences Directorate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) who will focus on polymer upcycling, including deconstruction of commodity polymers and their reconstruction to upcycled polymers.
The research will be focused 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 candidate is expected to be involved with other polymer synthesis projects including synthesis of novel vitrimers and self-healing polymers, development of new adhesives, synthesis of high performance polymer electrolytes for Li-metal battery, proton and anion exchange membrane fuel cells, and flow batteries. 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
  • Reconstruction to upcycled plastics using the deconstructed building blocks
  • Catalysis synthesis and mechanistic understanding of the deconstruction mechanism
  • Rigorous characterization of polymer deconstruction path especially using neutron scattering
  • Design, synthesis, and characterization of well-defined polymers using various polymerization techniques including controlled polymerization methods (anionic, cationic, ATRP, RAFT, NMP, ROMP) and other methods (conventional free radical, step growth)
  • Synthesis and characterization of novel monomers and post functionalization of polymers
  • Synthesis and characterization of dynamic polymers
  • 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:
  • A Ph.D. in Polymer Science and Engineering, Polymer Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering or a related field completed within 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
  • An excellent record of productive and creative research demonstrated by publications in peer-reviewed journals
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • 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
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.
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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.
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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.