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Organic Chemistry Postdoc (Novel Explosive Synthesis)

Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos, New Mexico
$74k - $88k per year + health, dental, life, vision, legal and up to a 9.5% 401k contributions
Closing date
Oct 13, 2019

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Field of specialization
Work Function
Laboratory, Research-Applied, Research-Basic
Job Type

The High Explosives Science and Technology group (M-7) at Los Alamos National Laboratory is seeking a highly motivated synthetic organic chemist to develop small molecules for explosive applications, with a focus of developing materials that are safer to handle, less toxic, more powerful, and have greener methods of production than conventional explosive materials. The postdoctoral term is two years, with the possibility of a third year extension and a start date between October 2019 and June 2020. Conversion to permanent staff member is possible upon successful completion of the appointment.

The selected applicant will focus on the design and synthesis of novel high explosive molecules including new structural motifs, heterocyclic structures, highly strained ring systems, and caged heterocycles. Purification and characterization of the new compounds by infrared, 1H, and 13C{1H} NMR spectroscopies, growing X-ray quality crystals and interpreting data obtained from X-ray crystallography, elemental analysis, thermal stability, mechanical sensitivities, and explosive performance will be required. This work will lead to the potential for both publications in chemical journals as well as applications in projects with national security missions.

For more information on some of our recent work, check out this video ( ) on our TNT-replacement material.

Position Highlights:

  • Competitive salary: $74,000 – $88,1000, based on experience
  • Benefits package including healthcare, dental, vision, disability, life, and legal insurance
  • 100% vested 401k employer contribution up to a 9.5% of employee pay (3.5% annual contribution and up to a 6% match)
  • LANL has a rich history of explosives research dating back to the Manhattan Project
  • We are one of the only facilities in the world capable of scaling up and performing large scale explosive testing on novel explosives
  • Potential for conversion to permanent staff member upon successful completion of the postdoctoral appointment
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory is located in the foothills of the Jemez mountains in northern New Mexico and has access to plenty of outdoor activities including hiking, fishing, skiing, rock-climbing, mountain biking, and horseback riding

Minimum Requirements:

  • Q clearance: The selected applicant will be subject to a Federal background investigation and must meet eligibility requirements, which requires U.S. citizenship except in very limited circumstances
  • Expertise in synthetic organic chemistry with extensive experience in a broad range of chemical reactions
  • Must be independent in designing synthetic routes, solving challenging synthetic problems, efficient in synthesizing targeted molecules (including multi-step synthesis) and using NMR and IR spectroscopies
  • Must be highly self-motivated to drive forward the research independently with their own creative ideas in addition to direction from the mentors
  • A willingness to learn and practice the safe handling of explosive materials in a rigorous safety environment
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills

Desired Skills:

  • Expertise in new molecule synthesis, multi-step synthesis, molecular design, and retrosynthetic analysis
  • Preferred experience in natural product synthesis or total synthesis
  • Experience with the safe handling of reactive materials
  • Expertise in mass spectrometry and single-crystal X-ray diffraction
  • Demonstrated ability to work in a collaborative environment in shared laboratory space. This includes active interfacing with both experimental and computational colleagues (internal and external) to push forward results into publication format as well as modifying materials for practical applications.


  • Duties include design, synthesis, purification and characterization of new explosive molecules and precursors
  • Multi-gram reaction scale-up
  • Documentation of all experiments including written, publication-quality experimental procedures and analytical data
  • Publish research through drafting academic publications and giving poster or oral presentations at professional conferences
  • Provide guidance, as required, to support any other workers who may be assisting with the research
  • The appointed postdoc will often be required to work on several projects concurrently and also needs to have the experience to be able to operate within a multidisciplinary research environment

Additional Details:

Q Clearance: Applicants selected will be subject to a Federal background investigation and must meet eligibility requirements

  • For access to classified matter.
  • Eligibility requirements: To obtain a clearance, an individual must be at least 18 years of age; U.S. citizenship is required except in very limited circumstances. See DOE Order 472.2 for additional information.

New-Employment Drug Test: The Laboratory requires successful applicants to complete a new-employment drug test and maintains a substance abuse policy that includes random drug testing.

Postdoctoral Fellowships: Candidates may be considered for a Director's Postdoc Fellowship and outstanding candidates may be considered for the prestigious Richard P. Feynman, Darleane Christian Hoffman, J. Robert Oppenheimer, or Frederick Reines Distinguished Postdoc Fellowships.

Equal Opportunity:

Los Alamos National Laboratory is an equal opportunity employer and supports a diverse and inclusive workforce. All employment practices are based on qualification and merit, without regards to race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or preference, marital status or spousal affiliation, physical or mental disability, medical conditions, pregnancy, status as a protected veteran, genetic information, or citizenship within the limits imposed by federal laws and regulations. The Laboratory is also committed to making our workplace accessible to individuals with disabilities and will provide reasonable accommodations, upon request, for individuals to participate in the application and hiring process. To request such an accommodation, please send an email to or call 1-505-665-4444 option 1.

Credentials and Qualifications:

  • Applicant must have a Ph.D. in synthetic organic chemistry or a related field. The selected applicant must have completed all Ph.D. requirements by commencement of the appointment and be within five years of completion of the Ph.D.

How to Apply:

Interested applicants should send a single PDF file that includes:

  1. A cover letter summarizing addressing all the Minimum Requirements and Desired Skills (maximum 4 pages)
  2. Current CV including publications (maximum 2 pages, excluding publications)
  3. Contact information for three references

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