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National Renewable Energy Laboratory Postdoctoral Researcher – Computational Chemistry of Combustion in Golden, Colorado

Posting Title

Postdoctoral Researcher – Computational Chemistry of Combustion



CO - Golden


Position Type

Postdoc (Fixed Term)


Hours Per Week



Annual Salary Range (based on full-time 40 hours per week)

Annual Salary Range: $68,000 - $112,200

Offers will typically be made in the bottom half of the listed range. NREL takes into consideration a candidate’s education, training, and experience, as well as the position's work location, expected quality and quantity of work, required travel (if any), external market and internal value, including seniority and merit systems, and internal pay alignment when determining the salary level for potential new employees. In compliance with the Colorado Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, a potential new employee’s salary history will not be used in compensation decisions.

Job Description

Applicants are invited to apply for a postdoctoral position in the Center for Integrated Mobility Sciences focused on the development of mechanistic models for biofuel combustion. These models will focus on understanding chemical mechanisms that govern the reactivity of new biofuel candidates, leveraging quantum chemical calculations and chemical kinetic simulations.

Job responsibilities:

  • Understanding of chemical reaction mechanisms based on an understanding of organic reactions in combustion-relevant conditions.

  • Perform ab initio calculations on combustion systems using standard software packages (e.g. Gaussian and/or VASP).

  • Develop and simulate skeletal kinetic mechanisms to validate proposed chemical mechanisms against experimental concentration data, using software such as Cantera or CHEMKIN, and RMG.

  • Collaborate with modeling and experimental collaborators at NREL and other institutions to discuss and analyze project results and propose new directions.

  • Effectively communicate and interact with scientists and engineers to define the requirements of the simulations and models. Obtain necessary input data for simulations and provide meaningful interpretation and analysis of modeling results to guide experiments, operations, and engineering designs.

  • Disseminate knowledge through publications in technical journals and presentations at conferences, symposia, and review meetings. Provide reports on technical work and input to technical publications and presentations.

  • Work with management and senior staff to plan and design projects, determine technical objectives, and interact with and provide regular project reports to government and/or industrial clients.

The successful candidate will have the following skills and experience:

  • Fluency in at least one scientific programming stack (Python/R/MATLAB).

  • Comfortable with UNIX and HPC environments

  • Well-versed in quantum chemistry and related software, e.g. Gaussian will be preferred.

  • Experienced with chemical kinetics simulation software, e.g. Cantera.

  • Demonstrated experience in performing simulations studies that inform and collaborate with experimental projects.

  • Ability to work independently and in teams to deliver high-quality results within aggressive timelines.

  • Strong background in combustion chemistry and physics, modeling and kinetics preferably with an emphasis on bio-fuels applications will be preferred.

  • Excellent technical writing, interpersonal, and communication skills.

  • Troubleshooting and problem-solving skills.

  • Recent (within past three years) PhD in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science or related field with a focus on computational modeling.

  • Dedication to a safe and clean work environment.


Basic Qualifications

Must be a recent PhD graduate within the last three years.


Additional Required Qualifications

Strong publication record. Applicants should be fluent in at least one scientific programming environment (Python, R, Matlab; Python preferred).

Preferred Qualifications

A strong background in DFT calculations, organic reactions, and chemical kinetics are essential.


Benefits Summary

Benefits include medical, dental, and vision insurance; short-term disability insurance; pension benefits; 403(b) Employee Savings Plan with employer match*; life and accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) insurance; personal time off (PTO) and sick leave; and paid holidays. NREL employees may be eligible for, but are not guaranteed, performance-, merit-, and achievement- based awards that include a monetary component. Some positions may be eligible for relocation expense reimbursement.

* Based on eligibility rules

Submission Guidelines

Please note that in order to be considered an applicant for any position at NREL you must submit an application form for each position for which you believe you are qualified. Applications are not kept on file for future positions. Please include a cover letter and resume with each position application.


EEO Policy

NREL is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard basis of age (40 and over), color, disability, gender identity, genetic information, marital status, military or veteran status, national origin/ancestry, race, religion, creed, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding), sexual orientation, and any other applicable status protected by federal, state, or local laws.

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The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is a leader in the U.S. Department of Energy’s effort to secure an environmentally and economically sustainable energy future. With locations in Golden and Boulder, Colorado, and a satellite office in Washington, D.C., NREL is the primary laboratory for research, development, and deployment of renewable energy technologies in the United States.

NREL is subject to Department of Energy (DOE) access restrictions. All candidates must be authorized to access the facility per DOE rules and guidance within a reasonable time frame for the specified position in order to be considered for an interview. DOE rules for site access during the interview process are the same regardless of whether the candidate is interviewed on-site, off-site, or via telephone or videoconference. Additionally, DOE contractor employees are prohibited from participating in certain Foreign Government Talent Recruitment Programs (FGTRPs). If a candidate is currently participating in an FGTRP, they will be required to disclose their participation after receiving an offer of employment and may be required to disengage from participation in the FGTRP prior to commencing employment. Any offer of employment is conditional on the ability to obtain work authorization and to be granted access to NREL by the Department of Energy (DOE). We understand that COVID-19 may have caused delays or closures at offices, consulates, and embassies. However, NREL cannot make exceptions to work authorization and access requirements, and exceptions to these requirements are not being made for COVID-19 related delays.

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