Postdoctoral Researcher - Reaction Engineering for Lignin Valorization

Job Description

Posting Title
Postdoctoral Researcher - Reaction Engineering for Lignin Valorization


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.

Our planet needs us! Learn about NREL’s critical objectives, and see how NREL is focused on saving the planet.

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 National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, is the nation's primary laboratory for research, development, and deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. The NREL mission is to develop renewable energy and energy efficient technologies and practices, advance related science and engineering, and transfer knowledge and innovation to address the nation’s energy and environmental goals. 


Our group is conducting research to enable realistic, cost effective, and sustainable conversion of biomass to renewable fuels and chemicals, including in the critical area of lignin valorization. This position focuses on reaction engineering and heterogeneous catalysis for the depolymerization of lignin. This will involve reaction engineering efforts to enable facile downstream separations of the solvent, catalyst, and products, lignin model compound experiments where necessary to examine fundamental chemistries occurring during lignin-first biorefining, and design, synthesis, characterization, and application of heterogeneous catalysts for these purposes. Candidates will collaborate with a large, multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional team. The initial appointment is for one year, with possible renewal up to three years. 

The successful candidate will be able to: 

  • Work safely and independently in a laboratory setting 

  • Learn new techniques and protocols 

  • Plan and execute research in collaboration with other researchers 

  • Perform lignin oxidation catalysis, reaction engineering, and catalyst and process design 

  • Communicate scientific results effectively, both in written and oral formats 

  • Author peer-reviewed publications, and 

  • Work effectively in a large, multidisciplinary team of engineers and chemists

BEST Directorate


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

* Must meet educational requirements prior to employment start date.

Additional Required Qualifications

  • Troubleshooting and problem-solving skills

  • Attention to detail 

  • Ability to deliver high-quality results within aggressive timelines 

  • Strong record of quality peer-reviewed publications 

  • Strong safety record and ability to follow complex standard operating procedures 

Preferred Qualifications

  • Familiarity with biomass conversion including lignin  

  • Expert in reaction engineering and chemical catalysis  

  • Experience in lignin chemistry and catalytic depolymerization  

  • Comprehensive analytics capabilities in lignin   

  • Downstream processing experience  

  • Demonstrated in-depth experience with analytical measurement techniques (e.g. GC-MS)  


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

Drug Free Workplace

NREL is committed to maintaining a drug-free workplace in accordance with the federal Drug-Free Workplace Act and complies with federal laws prohibiting the possession and use of illegal drugs. Under federal law, marijuana remains an illegal drug.

If you are offered employment at NREL, you must pass a pre-employment drug test prior to commencing employment. Unless prohibited by state or local law, the pre-employment drug test will include marijuana. If you test positive on the pre-employment drug test, your offer of employment may be withdrawn.

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.

EEO is the Law | Pay Transparency Nondiscrimination | Reasonable Accommodations

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