Research Associate in Biochemistry

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

United States

Research Associate in Biochemistry

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37830

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 12263 


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. We have a dedicated and creative staff of over 6,000 people! Our 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.


The Diffraction Group in the Neutron Scattering Division (NSD) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has an immediate opening for a Postdoctoral Research Associate in macromolecular X-ray and neutron crystallography and neutron vibrational spectroscopy to investigate the structure-dynamics-function relationships of enzymes and enzyme-ligand complexes involved in disease, including proteases from RNA viruses such as HIV-1, SARS-CoV-2, norovirus, and dengue fever virus. In this position, you will be expected to contribute to the development of methodology for investigating the structure and dynamics of enzymes involved in disease using X-ray diffraction, neutron diffraction, inelastic neutron scattering and molecular simulations and will participate in structure-assisted drug design utilizing standard approaches, VR and AI tools in collaboration with computational scientists. You will join a multi-disciplinary research team that is developing and applying isotopic labeling, neutron diffraction and scattering techniques to understand and control the structure, function, and dynamics of drug targets. As an ORNL postdoctoral fellow you will have access to state-of-the-art facilities for isotopic labeling, biophysical characterization, and X-ray diffraction, as well as access to world class facilities for neutron diffraction and scattering, and molecular simulations. The position will allow the postdoctoral scientist to develop expertise, broaden experience and interact with a diverse set of scientists working at the ORNL’s neutron, nanomaterial science and high-performance computing facilities.


Desirable skills include expertise in biological structure determination including protein-ligand complexes, protein expression/purification/crystallization, molecular simulations, and some ability to code in Python. You will also have access to a suite of biophysical characterization tools, as well as external synchrotron facilities.


This position will report to Andrey Kovalevsky. You will work closely with research staff and other postdoctoral associates in NSD and across ORNL.


Major Duties/Responsibilities:  

  • Employ methods to study and understand the structure, function and dynamics of viral enzymes and enzyme-ligand complexes using X-ray and neutron diffraction, and complementary techniques at ORNL
  • Perform structure-assisted drug design for viral proteases.
  • Contribute to the development of neutron vibrational spectroscopy methodology for studying protein dynamics, using molecular dynamics simulations to interpret inelastic neutron scattering data.
  • Publish scientific papers resulting from this research and present results at appropriate national and international meetings.
  • Physical requirements for this job include the use of hand and eye protection gear, kneeling, sitting for extended periods of time, working with sample environment equipment, and possible exposure to ionization radiation normally associated with operation of neutron scattering instruments for scientific research.
  • Ensure compliance with environment, safety, health, and quality program requirements.
  • The SNS facility is in operation 24 hours per day and 7 days a week year-round. Some experiment-based efforts may occasionally require work at off hours or weekends.
  • 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:

  • A Ph.D. in structural biology, biochemistry, biophysics, or related fields such as chemistry, physical chemistry, biological structure research completed within the last 5 years.


Preferred Qualifications:

  • Experience and strong knowledge of structure-based drug design is required.
  • Experience in protein expression and purification in prokaryotic systems.
  • Experience in crystallization, structure determination and analysis of protein-ligand complexes.
  • Knowledge of and experience in Python coding.
  • Experience in other biophysical characterization methods.
  • Demonstrated ability to interact effectively with research staff at all levels and to work within a multi-disciplinary team.
  • A strong record of productive and creative research demonstrated by publications in peer-reviewed journals and presentations at scientific conferences.
  • The candidate should be self-motivated, have good interpersonal, communication, and presentation skills.



Provide a current curriculum vitae including a list of publications when applying for 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. If you are selected for interview, you will be required to send in a minimum of two letters of reference.


Please include a discussion of your research interests and how neutron scattering can support your plan for research during your time at ORNL in your cover letter with your application.


Instructions to upload documents to your candidate profile:

  • Login to your account via
  • View Profile
  • Under the My Documents section, select Add a Document


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.


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, Life Insurance, Pet Insurance, 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.


If you have difficulty using the online application system or need an accommodation to apply due to a disability, please email:


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.

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