Postdoctoral Researcher – Biomass Cell Wall and Thermochemical Conversion Analysis

Job Description

Posting Title

Postdoctoral Researcher – Biomass Cell Wall and Thermochemical Conversion Analysis



CO - Golden


Position Type

Postdoc (Fixed Term)


Hours Per Week



Working at NREL
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), located at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Golden, Colorado is the nation's primary laboratory for research and development of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

From day one at NREL, you’ll connect with coworkers driven by the same mission to save the planet. By joining an organization that values a supportive, inclusive, and flexible work environment, you’ll have the opportunity to engage through our eight employee resource groups, numerous employee-driven clubs, and learning and professional development classes.

NREL supports inclusive, diverse, and unbiased hiring practices that promote creativity and innovation. By collaborating with organizations that focus on diverse talent pools, reaching out to underrepresented demographics, and providing an inclusive application and interview process, our Talent Acquisition team aims to hear all voices equally. We strive to attract a highly diverse workforce and create a culture where every employee feels welcomed and respected and they can be their authentic selves.

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Note: Research suggests that potential job seekers may self-select out of opportunities if they don't meet 100% of the job requirements. We encourage anyone who is interested in this opportunity to apply. We seek dedicated people who believe they have the skills and ambition to succeed at NREL to apply for this role.

Job Description

The Renewable Resources and Enabling Sciences Center is a talented team of scientists (researchers) and technicians working in biological, chemical, and catalytic research approaches to renewable energy and materials for a circular economy. The center has strong focus in polymer design and upcycling, separations, synthetic biology and bioconversion, analytical sciences, computational modeling, and lignocellulosic chemistry and catalysis.

The Renewable Resources and Enabling Sciences Center at NREL has an opening for a full time post-doctoral researcher working within a team focused on the analysis of biomass and biomass-derived products to gain a better understanding of the relationships amongst cell wall properties and plant performance in the field and conversion processes. This role will be working in collaboration with two project partners – The Center for Bioenergy Innovation (CBI) and the Feedstock Conversion Interface Consortium (FCIC). More info can be found at these two links. &

What to expect for the role:

  • Analytical method implementation and development for lignocellulosic biomass compositional and cell wall structural analysis, particularly using mass spectrometry (MS) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy
  • Implement and develop high-throughput methods for analyzing biomass compositional, structural and other physicochemical and conversion characteristics
  • Implement, develop and understand catalytic conversion processes for upgrading biomass to bioderived intermediates and products
  • Critical analysis of data using variety of statistical tools and formatting for manuscripts and presentations
  • Presentation of findings in high-impact journals, conferences and patents
  • Development of new concepts and ideas for biomass analysis and data-driven hypotheses for biomass compositional and structural behavior in field and conversion platforms and for manipulation of biomass for optimized properties

The successful candidate will support interdisciplinary projects focused on the analysis of lignocellulosic biomass for advancing knowledge of the relationships between cell wall compositional and structural properties as they relate to biomass agricultural performance (stress resilience, yield, etc.) and conversion to fuels and bioderived products (enzymatic deconstruction, thermochemical conversion, catalytic upgrading, etc.). Emphasis will include using established and developing methods for analysis of lignocellulosic cell wall structure and components (lignin, sugars, suberin, lipids, metabolites, etc.), statistical analysis of laboratory data and implementation and development of high-throughput analytical methods for biomass analysis. Thermochemical conversion (including pyrolysis and heterogeneous catalysis) methods will also be used and developed to understand biomass composition and its conversion to bioderived products including intermediates and fuels.

Technical leadership in planning, design, and execution of research; presentation of findings in patents, high-impact journals, technical reports, and conferences; and literature review including the development of new concepts and ideas for biomass analysis and related insights will also be needed. The successful candidate will be applying their extensive knowledge of analytical instrumentation and troubleshooting, statistical data analysis, lignocellulosic biomass cell wall chemistry, and laboratory safety towards our circular economy research mission.

BEST Directorate


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

* Must meet educational requirements prior to employment start date.

Additional Required Qualifications

  • Strong background in operation and troubleshooting of analytical instruments (NMR, GC-MS, LC, etc.) as well as method development for analysis of biomass and bio-derived solids and liquids
  • Demonstrated ability to disseminate research findings through technical reports, publications, and presentations to external audiences including at national conferences
  • Experience working with reactors and/or bench scale conversion chemistry (e.g. pyrolysis, heterogeneous catalysis, derivatization, etc.)
  • Experience working with large volumes of data and/or data dimensions and associated statistical data analysis tools (PCA, ANOVA, etc.)
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Experience conducting research across cross-disciplinary teams
  • Experimental and instrumental troubleshooting, problem-solving skills and attention to detail
  • Dedication to a safe, clean and collaborative work environment

Preferred Qualifications

  • Experience in programming and coding for data analyses and management (R, Python, Excel Visual Basic, Matlab etc.)
  • Experience with highly collaborative research including engagement with scientists at other National Laboratories, industrial, and/or academic partners


Annual Salary Range (based on full-time 40 hours per week)
Job Profile: Postdoctoral Researcher / Annual Salary Range: $71,300 - $117,600

NREL takes into consideration a candidate’s education, training, and experience, 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.

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, domestic partner 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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