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Post Doctorate RA - Mass Spectrometry-based Chemical Characterization for Chemical Defense (9237)



Protecting U.S. residents and visitors is among our nation’s highest priorities. As adversaries gain access to sophisticated technologies and materials, the threats grow more dynamic and complex—from cyber and nuclear to chemical and biological weapons of mass effect and other forms of terrorism. The PNNL national security mission employs our researchers, tools, and technologies to play a key role in advancing the ability to identify and secure nuclear materials, detect weapons of mass effect, manage nonproliferation treaties, secure our nation's borders, and protect critical infrastructures.  PNNL’s scientific discovery and capabilities—rooted in innovative theory, methods, algorithms, and tools—are enabling stronger, more resilient technologies and systems to safeguard national security. Coupled with decades of radiological and nuclear materials expertise, advanced computing and threat analysis capabilities, and a broad fundamental science base, we are identifying and countering emerging threats that have significant impact at home and around the globe.


Post-Doctoral Researcher—Mass Spectrometry-based Chemical Characterization for Chemical Defense

The Chemical and Biological Signatures Group (CBS) is an interdisciplinary group of approximately 50 biologists, chemists, and data scientists that solve research and development problems related to chemical and biological detection, characterization, and forensics. Much of the work involves trace detection in complex samples including environmental, food, or biological samples, and is directed toward national security missions to prevent and counter acts of terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.


We are seeking a postdoctoral researcher passionate about chemical and biological defense research and development (R&D) with a focus in mass spectrometry, metabolomics, informatics, and data science.  The postdoctoral researcher will conduct research into chemical threat detection and characterization by analyzing mass spectrometry data of small molecules using common untargeted analysis tools and/or developing data analysis tools via writing R or Python code to analyze, visualize, and summarize this data, and applying the results to answer key research questions.  The postdoctoral researcher will also communicate results to interdisciplinary team orally and in writing, and discover new and emerging concepts and techniques from the scientific literature and apply them to chemical defense questions.





The incumbent will work as a technical contributor under the guidance of senior scientists and engineers, and will be responsible for performing the following with the level of quality, timeliness, and cost, required to meet project and client expectations:

  • Proficiently applying mass spectrometry, metabolomics, and informatics techniques to various assignments in a research and development laboratory
  • Using programming languages such as R, Python, or similar, to organize, query, analyze, and present results from analysis tools, as well as developing software tools for data analysis
  • Working in technical teams to complete complex project tasks on time and on budget
  • Exercising strong written and oral communication skills – including carefully documenting experimental results and contributing to technical reports and presentations



Minimum Qualifications:

  • Candidates must have received a PhD within the past five years (60 months) or within the next 8 months from an accredited college or university.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • PhD degree in Chemistry/Biochemistry or related field
  • Experience developing instrumental, such as mass spectrometry, methods for analysis of small organic molecules
  • Experience with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and/or liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry data acquisition and data analysis
  • Experience analyzing mass spectrometry-based metabolomics data using common software tools
  • Strong competency in a coding language such as Python or R
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Experience recommending technical approaches and making technical contributions that may ultimately affect the direction of the research
  • Experience with untargeted analysis of small molecules
  • Computational experience, i.e., experience with informatics, scripting, and/or developing software tools for proteomics and/or metabolomics data analysis
  • Experience/interest in forensic science, such as forensic chemistry or chemical forensics
  • Experience with machine learning models and applying such models to chemical and/or biological data
  • Strong publication record
  • Experience balancing multiple projects
  • Experience working in multi-disciplinary teams
  • Experience contributing to peer-reviewed publications or technical reports
  • Interest and enthusiasm for working on diverse projects that will demand the development of new skills

Additional Information


This position requires the ability to obtain and maintain a federal security clearance.



* U.S. Citizenship

* Background Investigation: Applicants selected will be subject to a federal background investigation and must meet eligibility requirements for access to classified matter in accordance 10 CFR 710, Appendix B.


*Drug Testing: All Security Clearance positions are Testing Designated Positions, which means that the candidate selected is subject to pre-employment and random drug testing. In addition, applicants must be able to demonstrate non-use of illegal drugs, including marijuana, for the 12 consecutive months preceding completion of the requisite Questionnaire for National Security Positions (QNSP).


Note: Applicants will be considered ineligible for security clearance processing by the U.S. Department of Energy until non-use of illegal drugs, including marijuana, for 12 months can be demonstrated.

About PNNL


Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is a world-class research institution powered by a highly educated, diverse workforce committed to the values of Integrity, Creativity, Collaboration, Impact, and Courage. Every year, scores of dynamic, driven people come to PNNL to work with renowned researchers on meaningful science, innovations and outcomes for the U.S. Department of Energy and other sponsors; here is your chance to be one of them!

At PNNL, you will find an exciting research environment and excellent benefits including health insurance, flexible work schedules and telework options. PNNL is located in eastern Washington State—the dry side of Washington known for its stellar outdoor recreation and affordable cost of living. The Lab’s campus is only a 45-minute flight (or ~3 hour drive) from Seattle or Portland, and is serviced by the convenient PSC airport, connected to 8 major hubs.

Commitment to Excellence, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Equal Employment Opportunity


Our laboratory is committed to a diverse and inclusive work environment dedicated to solving critical challenges in fundamental sciences, national security, and energy resiliency. We are proud to be an Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer. In support of this commitment, we encourage people of all racial/ethnic identities, women, veterans, and individuals with disabilities to apply for employment.


Pacific Northwest National Laboratory considers all applicants for employment without regard to race, religion, color, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity), national origin, age, disability, genetic information (including family medical history), protected veteran status, and any other status or characteristic protected by federal, state, and/or local laws.


We are committed to providing reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities and disabled veterans in our job application procedures and in employment. If you need assistance or an accommodation due to a disability, contact us at

Drug Free Workplace


PNNL is committed to a drug-free workplace supported by Workplace Substance Abuse Program (WSAP) and complies with federal laws prohibiting the possession and use of illegal drugs.


If you are offered employment at PNNL, you must pass a drug test prior to commencing employment. PNNL complies with federal law regarding illegal drug use.  Under federal law, marijuana remains an illegal drug.  If you test positive for any illegal controlled substance, including marijuana, your offer of employment will be withdrawn. 

HSPD-12 PIV Credential Requirement


In accordance with Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12) and Department of Energy (DOE) Order 473.1A, new employees are required to obtain and maintain a HSPD-12 Personal Identity Verification (PIV) Credential.  To obtain this credential, new employees must successfully complete and pass a Federal Tier 1 background check investigation.  This investigation includes a declaration of illegal drug activities, including use, supply, possession, or manufacture within the last year.  This includes marijuana and cannabis derivatives, which are still considered illegal under federal law, regardless of state laws.

Mandatory Requirements


Please be aware that the Department of Energy (DOE) prohibits DOE employees and contractors from having any affiliation with the foreign government of a country DOE has identified as a “country of risk” without explicit approval by DOE and Battelle. If you are offered a position at PNNL and currently have any affiliation with the government of one of these countries, you will be required to disclose this information and recuse yourself of that affiliation or receive approval from DOE and Battelle prior to your first day of employment.

Rockstar Rewards


Employees and their families are offered medical insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, health savings account, flexible spending accounts, basic life insurance, disability insurance*, employee assistance program, business travel insurance, tuition assistance, supplemental parental bonding leave**, surrogacy and adoption assistance, and fertility support. Employees are automatically enrolled in our company funded pension plan* and may enroll in our 401k savings plan. Employees may accrue up to 120 vacation hours per year and may receive ten paid holidays per year.

* Research Associates excluded.

**Once eligibility requirements are met.


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PNNL lists the full pay range for the position in the job posting. Starting pay is calculated from the minimum of the pay range and actual placement in the range is determined based on an individual’s relevant job-related skills, qualifications, and experience. This approach is applicable to all positions, with the exception of positions governed by collective bargaining agreements and certain limited-term positions which have specific pay rules.


As part of our commitment to fair compensation practices, we do not ask for or consider current or past salaries in making compensation offers at hire. Instead, our compensation offers are determined by the specific requirements of the position, prevailing market trends, applicable collective bargaining agreements, pay equity for the position type, and individual qualifications and skills relevant to the performance of the position.