Research Staff Member, Catalytic Chemist

Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Discussed upon interview.
Sep 17, 2018
Oct 17, 2018
Field of specialization
Job Type
Full time


The Surface Chemistry and Catalysis Group in the Chemical Sciences Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is seeking a catalytic chemist with a strong background in reaction kinetics and mechanism to perform research on heterogeneous catalysis involving complex reactions of oxygenates and alkanes over oxides such as perovskites, and supported metal catalysts. The primary focus will be on the use of quantitative kinetic methods and in situ/operando techniques including X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS), optical spectroscopy and neutron scattering to interrogate the structure – function relationships in reactions over ternary oxides and supported metal catalysts. The incumbent will work in close collaboration with other researchers in both experiments and computations involved in this fundamental research project.


The Surface Chemistry and Catalysis Group conducts research into chemical transformations relevant to the conversion of energy resources, such as oxygenates and alkanes, over oxides and metals supported on oxides with a focus on understanding the reaction mechanisms and kinetics to enable the identification and control of the catalytic active site and optimization of the selectivity and conversion. Primary research interests are focused on understanding and controlling the fundamental synergism among various catalytic sites on oxide and supported metal surfaces that control the reaction pathways and selectivity in dehydration, dehydrogenation, coupling and oxidation reactions.  Approaches include experimental and computational studies of reaction mechanism and kinetics, spectroscopic identification of surface reactants under in situ and operando conditions, and surface science approaches to synthesis of model catalysts and study the surface chemistry to understanding structure-function relationships in catalysis.  An array of techniques for characterizing the physical and catalytic properties are in place or are currently being developed within the group. This research program also takes advantage of resources at ORNL including the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences and the Spallation Neutron Source, for neutron scattering, as well as other national user facilities such as synchrotron light sources. The environment at ORNL is highly collaborative and crosscutting research exists between the Chemical Sciences Division and other Divisions at ORNL.

Major Duties/Responsibilities:

  • Perform reaction kinetics and mechanistic studies over oxides and supported metal catalysts using micro-reactor systems.
  • Perform and develop in situ/operando studies of reaction mechanisms by a variety methods, including steady-state isotopic transient kinetic analysis (SSITKA) combined with optical spectroscopy (IR and Raman), synchrotron-based X-ray and neutron scattering techniques.
  • Collaborate with ORNL postdocs and staff who are involved in the synthesis, characterization and catalytic testing of catalysts and train new postdocs and student in catalytic chemistry.
  • Independently formulate research strategies and collaborate with experimentalists and computational chemists to guide the design of new catalytic materials with superior properties.
  • Participate in the development of new research directions and proposals for funding.
  • Present and report research results at scientific meetings and to sponsors.
  • Publish scientific results in high impact 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.

  Qualifications Required: Basic Qualifications:

  • A PhD in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering or a closely related science discipline, with at least two years of catalysis research experience.

  Preferred Qualifications:

  • A strong background in the study of heterogeneous catalysis and catalytic reactions.
  • Strong expertise in studying kinetics and mechanisms of heterogeneous catalytic reactions.
  • Experience in synchrotron-based X-ray and electron spectroscopy including XPS and XAS (EXAFS and XANES) and neutron scattering to study heterogeneous catalysts and catalytic reactions.
  • Experience in studying reaction mechanisms with multimodal in situ/operando approaches.
  • Experience in synthesis and characterization of oxide and supported metal catalysts by a variety of techniques including scattering and spectroscopy approaches.
  • An excellent track record of productive and creative research demonstrated by publications in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Must be a self-starter and be able to set priorities, work independently and participate creatively in a collaborative team effort.
  • Experience in leading and contributing to the preparation of highly innovative proposals in basic and applied catalysis.
  • Excellent written, oral, and interpersonal skills, as well as the ability to communicate in English to an international scientific audience.
  • Motivated and safety conscious.


Other Information:

Please provide a list of publications when applying for this position.  Three letters of reference are required and can be uploaded to your profile or emailed directly to  Please include the title of the position in the subject line.

ORNL is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants, including individuals with disabilities and protected veterans, are encouraged to apply.

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