U.S. citizens: Postdoctoral Research Associate (Water Resources Engineer)

Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge, TN, United States
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
Experience Level: 
Not Specified
Degree Required: 


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Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) delivers scientific discovery and technical breakthroughs that support the Department of Energy (DOE)’s missions in renewable energy, global security, and economic opportunity for the nation.  ORNL research and development initiatives are extending computing and data analytics to exascale and beyond for science and energy, accelerating the discovery and design of new materials and manufacturing methods for energy, advancing the scientific basis for new energy technologies, and advancing the understanding of complexity in biological and environmental systems.  These initiatives power ORNL’s ongoing contribution to early-stage science and engineering research that enables industry to develop and deploy new technologies that will increase hydropower and marine renewable energy generation. More specifically, ORNL principal investigators and research staff are guided by the priorities of DOE’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO), which include hydropower contributions to energy affordability and grid resilience and reliability, supported by scientific analyses of policy and regulatory alternatives.

ORNL is seeking a research engineer with the skills and creativity to apply water resources engineering knowledge towards the assessment and advancement of innovative small hydropower facilities.  You will possess a diverse skillset that enables them to produce the science, tools, and analysis to consistently assess costs, benefits, trade-offs, and impacts of small hydropower development at the stream-reach and basin scales.  At the stream-reach scale, the engineer will assist in hydraulic-environmental assessments of innovative hydropower facility designs, including local impacts to sediment, aquatic species, water quality, and recreation.  At the basin level, you will develop optimization models to help identify portfolios of small hydropower development options that can be technically robust, environmentally compatible, and cost competitive. 

You will have the opportunity to work collaboratively with senior research engineers, scientists, and analysts to advance the state-of-the-art in modular design for water infrastructure, and will be an integral member of the ORNL water power technology research team that interfaces with ORNL research groups in aquatic biology, sensors and controls, systems engineering, electric power systems engineering, and in additive manufacturing at the ORNL Manufacturing Demonstration Facility.

Duties and Responsibilities – You will advance research in water resources sub-domains relevant to hydropower.  Main tasks may include:

  • Conduct background research and literature reviews on low-impact hydropower design methodologies, criteria, and metrics
  • Develop models and numerical analysis tools for energy-water resource applications  
  • Collaborate on proposals for sponsored research;
  • Lead and participate in research partnerships with industrial and academic partners;
  • Maintain awareness of and contribute to the state of the art and science of water resource system analysis through preparation, submission, publication, and review of manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals and participation in scientific, professional, and industry forums.
  • Participate in interdisciplinary forums with engineers, ecologists, and economists;
  • Provide technical leadership for junior research staff, and students as research is executed.

Applicants cannot have received the most recent degree 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 up to 24 months with the potential for one 12-month extension. Initial appointments and extensions are subject to performance and availability of funding.

Basic Qualifications

  • Ph.D. in Water Resources Engineering, with a strong background in quantitative analysis or numerical methods
  • Experience with and/or desire to pursue research in water infrastructure design and portfolio planning for renewable energy applications
  • Strong fundamental understanding of open channel and environmental hydraulics
  • Experience accessing, developing, and analyzing large datasets
  • Demonstrated ability to publish research findings in peer-reviewed conference proceedings and journals
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills and the ability to communicate in English in forums and individually with international scientific and technical audiences
  • Proficiency with data analysis using Microsoft Excel and more advanced data analytics software
  • Demonstrated ability to use at least one programming language for numerical modeling and data analysis (preferred languages include Python and MATLAB)
  • The work involves various physical requirements to fully access dam sites. These could include, but are not limited to: climbing ladders, operating boats and maneuvering in confined spaces As such, a pre-hire physical will be required after offer.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Experience with high performance computing for water resource applications
  • Proficiency with at least one water resource systems modeling software
  • Experience developing science-based decision support tools
  • Ongoing participation and leadership in the activities of professional organizations (e.g. ASCE, AWWA, AGU)

Benefits at ORNL:  UT-Battelle offers a quality benefits package, including paid vacation, paid personal days and medical/dental plan options. Onsite amenities include a credit union, medical clinic, cafeteria, coffee stands, and fitness facilities.  

Relocation:  Moving can be overwhelming and expensive. UT-Battelle offers a generous relocation package to ease the transition process. Domestic and international relocation assistance is available for certain positions. If invited to interview, be sure to ask your Recruiter (Talent Acquisition Partner) for details.