Section Head, Materials Structure and Processing Science & Materials in Extremes

Oak Ridge National Laboratory   Oak Ridge, TN   Full-time     Supply Chain / Logistics
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Posted on July 16, 2020


We are seeking two R&D Section Heads for (1) Materials Structure and Processing Science and (2) in the Materials Science and Technology Division (MSTD). MSTD conducts fundamental and applied materials research for basic energy sciences programs and a variety of energy technologies, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, transportation, conservation, fossil energy, fusion energy, nuclear power, and space exploration.

Selection for each section head will be based on qualifications, relevant experience, skills, and education.

Materials Structure and Processing Science

Understand, develops and applies advanced processing techniques to obtain desired materials structures and properties across length scales.

  1. Alloy Behavior and Design - Develops fundamental understanding of how to design and synthesize structural and functional alloys (e.g. HEA) for extreme environments based on advanced microstructural characterization, and modelling and design techniques.
  2. Materials for Advanced Manufacturing - Designs, fabricates and characterizes the next generation of materials for use in advanced manufacturing.
  3. Materials Joining - Advances materials joining science through development of new joining technologies by understanding weld microstructure evolution, properties and performance.
  4. Materials Processing - Designs and develops next-generation advanced processing techniques for development of hybrid and refractory materials for application in extreme environments by understanding processing pathways and thermodynamic/kinetics (e.g., CVD, CVI, densification).

Materials in Extremes

Understand and characterize the effect of extreme environments on materials structure and properties to provide insights into mitigating these effects.

  1. Advanced Nuclear Materials - Understands the role of damage modes on the properties, structure and failure of structural materials and components for light water reactors, advanced fusion reactors, and DoD systems.
  2. Mechanical Properties and Mechanics - Understands the relations between processing, microstructure and mechanical properties of materials and how these change as a function of time, stress, temperature and environment through mechanical evaluation.
  3. Radiation Effects and Microstructural Analysis - Develops the fundamental knowledge to characterize the effects of radiation on material properties, to assist in determining the lifetime of irradiated components in reactors and develop strategies to mitigate the effects of high dose environments.


Provide Research and Development (R&D) leadership to a thematic area of science and technology that integrates several thematically aligned R&D groups consistent with ORNL's aspiration to be the world's premier R&D institution and ORNL's science culture.

The R&D Section Head works closely with the Division Director and section Group Leaders to establish and implement the science and technology directions for the section; support the Group Leaders to ensure their success and the success of the R&D groups as world-recognized leaders in their fields; ensure that staff members understand business opportunities; identify links to current and future funding opportunities and R&D programs; develop and implement consistent processes for the peer-review of proposals consistent with lab standards; model proper Environment, Safety, Security, Health, and Quality practices; and ensure a diverse and inclusive work environment where every employee feels safe, heard and appreciated-a workplace that sets an example for the broader community

Major Duties/Responsibilities:


Scientists/engineers/analysts who have significantly advanced knowledge/technology in their respective field. Their work directly impacts the present or future of the laboratory in significant ways. Initiates, leads and performs R&D programs and initiatives on an ongoing basis. Expectations are consistent with those for RP-D/R-05 or higher.


  • Work closely with the Division Director and Group Leaders within the section to develop a vision and implement a strategy to pursue world-leading science and technology directions for the section. Demonstrate cross-functional team leadership.
  • Support Division Director in the operations of the division and represent Director when Director is not available.
  • Work with section Group Leaders to establish, communicate, and measure critical metrics for success and impact. Benchmark against the best in the world.
  • Actively contribute to shaping the division's, directorate's, and laboratory's research plans and investments.
  • Build strong teams by collaborating across ORNL and securing external expertise when needed. Leverage ORNL facilities and resources when developing new projects.
  • Work with the Group Leaders and the Division Director to assess and calibrate individual staff performance across the section. Evaluate progress regularly, providing feedback and addressing performance issues in a timely manner.
  • Develop and implement Succession Planning with input from Group Leaders for all critical positions in the section to ensure future success.
  • Ensure groups are recruiting and hiring from a diverse pool of top candidates who are committed to world-class research and aspire to be the best in their field. Approve job offers.
  • Drive staff promotions and development.
  • Address in a timely manner all concerns expressed by staff and any disciplinary actions.
  • Lead by example, using the principles in ORNL's "Research Code of Conduct" as a guide for proposing, performing, and communicating research and in dealing with others.
  • Employ best practices, such as holding regular meetings, being visible in the workplace, monitoring budgets, acknowledging sponsors, and adhering to ORNL business systems requirements regarding staff requests for foreign travel and submission of quality proposals.
  • Coach and mentor staff regarding Battelle's "Safe Conduct of Research" principles and ensure all work is carried out safely, securely, and in compliance with ORNL policies, standards, and procedures.
  • Exemplify a commitment to "One ORNL" by modeling lab expectations for excellence in research, operations, and community engagement, and by working cooperatively to leverage capabilities across the lab.


  • Serve as direct supervisor for section Group Leaders.
  • Counsel/consult/mentor staff and transfer knowledge of specialized field(s) to a variety of staff, including senior staff.
  • Connect staff to your network. Assist Group Leaders (and R&D staff when appropriate) in setting long-term career goals. Identify additional mentors as appropriate and engage senior staff to act in this capacity.
  • Be open and transparent in communicating information to your groups and communicate staff achievements and changes to stakeholders in a timely manner.
  • Work with Group Leaders to ensure staff are participating actively in professional service (engagement in scientific societies, workshop and conference organization, peer review, advisory board membership, etc.).
  • Advocate for and support internal and external recognition of staff achievements. Ensure the Section's external professional presence is strong.
  • Communicate funding/proposal opportunities to staff and support proposal development as appropriate (mentoring, proposal reviews, budget preparation, etc.).
  • Ensure that staff manage their research projects effectively to deliver results on scope, schedule, and budget while meeting scientific, technical, and business expectations.
  • Effectively communicate the importance of protecting proprietary or sensitive information and complying with ORNL cybersecurity policies and guidelines.
  • Recognize and support the contributions and responsibilities of Group Leaders and Laboratory Space Managers to lab safety.


  • To section staff, for the quality and safety of their work environment and opportunity for professional growth.
  • To organization managers, for world-leading science and technology directions, safe effective, and compliant operations, ownership of assigned staff, facilities, and equipment, and the quality of products and services.
  • To customer, for the quality of products and service


  • Develop a vision and implement a strategy to pursue world-leading science and technology directions for the section.
  • Hold group leaders accountable for performance
  • Act to ensure safe and effective operations
  • Hire group leaders

Basic Qualifications:

  • Requires a Ph.D. with a minimum of 12-year relevant experience or a M.S. with a minimum of 16-year experience or a B.S. with 20-years of experience.
  • Qualified candidates should have demonstrated experience in leading R&D teams

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Ph.D. in field related to relevant Section(s)
  • Experience managing research projects dealing with materials processing and manufacturing science, radiation interactions with materials and/or in collaboration with other technical domains.
  • Demonstrated personal track record of high-impact publications.
  • Demonstrated ability to manage teams of researchers to deliver world-leading materials research.
  • Experience writing successful R&D proposals to multiple government agencies.
  • Demonstrated ability to effectively interact with senior levels of client management and others involved in technical endeavors.
  • Demonstrated ability to write research plans, technical reports to a sponsor, and proposals and to develop and execute on a vision for future research relevant to modeling and simulation.
  • A successful record of developing research partnerships and collaborative relationships with universities, industry, and research laboratories.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills, the ability to work independently, outstanding written and oral communication skills, and good organizational skills.

Special Requirements: This position requires the ability to obtain and maintain a clearance from the Department of Energy. As such, this position is a Workplace Substance Abuse (WSAP) testing designated position. WSAP positions require passing a pre-placement drug test and participation in an ongoing random drug testing program.