Principal Research Associate

Emeryville, CA
Sep 28, 2018
Required Education
Bachelors Degree
Position Type
Full time

Principal Research Associate - 85638

Organization: BE-Biological Systems & Eng

Berkeley Lab’s Biological Systems and Engineering Division has an opening for a Principal Research Associate.  This Principal Research Associate will work as part of the Biomass Pretreatment Team and support the mission of the Deconstruction Division at the Joint BioEnergy Institute. This individual will have a key role in designing and conducting research into developing novel methods of biomass deconstruction, such as ionic liquids and deep eutectic solvents.  The projects involve biomass pretreatment, biomass characterization, chemical/biological catalysis, and product recovery/purification activities. Essential to success is the command of a broad spectrum of knowledge of biochemical/chemical engineering unit operations, biomass processing, and process optimization applicable to the biorefining enterprise for the production of biofuels and bioproducts. This individual will work as part of an integrated team and will be expected to have very strong communication and technical writing skills. This position will also afford the opportunity to participate in independent research that is expected to result in first author contributions to, and responsibilities for scientific and technical peer-reviewed publications and patents, as well as present results at external scientific meetings and conferences. 

What You Will Do:

Independent organization, preparation, and completion of projects with only broad direction, including multiple unit operations, coordination of staff members from different teams, and direct interaction with clients to meet defined timelines.

• Perform substantial data analysis and integrate results to publications and/or patents. Prepare manuscripts for publication, project reports, and conference presentations. Contribute significantly to the intellectual growth of the organization by authoring of statements of work, grant proposals, and patent applications

• Design and perform biomass pretreatment experiments using ionic liquids, as well as recovery and purification of the products.

• Serve as equipment owner and be responsible for maintenance of certain equipment and laboratory facilities. Contact service engineer and document the service performed.

• Participate in group meetings and meetings with internal and external stakeholders. Provide solutions for various internal and external technical needs.

• Maintain detailed lab notebook, write/review SOPs/batch records and prepare reports as needed.

• Assist with training and mentorship of technical staff, affiliates, and interns; act as a work lead for junior staff and interns.

• Assist with general lab activities such as clean up, waste disposal, purchasing, etc

Additional Responsibilities as needed:

• Incorporate into research planning statistical design of experiment approaches using R or similar software.

• Perform techno-economic analysis using related software

What is Required:

• Substantial experience in the field of biomass conversion and biomass pretreatment, enzymatic hydrolysis, solid/liquid separation, liquid-liquid extraction, centrifugation, filtration, etc.

• Experience in lignocellulosic biomass processing, characterization, thermochemical reactions, enzymatic saccharification, and recovery/analysis of related products.

• Working knowledge of ionic liquids and/or deep eutectic solvents.

• Strong computer, verbal and written communication skills with ability to write papers, grant proposals and contribute significantly to establish independent funding.

• Strong background in standard laboratory analytical techniques, such as HPLC, LC-MS and GC-MS.

• Ability to work in a larger team to assist scientists and guide research assistants and undergraduate students with standard protocols.

• Exemplary ethical conduct of integrity, honesty, and mutual respect, both intellectually and in interpersonal workplace interactions.

• Strong problem-solving capabilities with demonstrated ability to present novel methods and techniques to solve problems within broadly defined objectives.

• Exhibit willingness to work cross-functionally and collaboratively, and learn new techniques associated with other functions and activities at JBEI.

• Ability to frequently lift 25 pounds.

Additional Desired Qualifications:

• Bachelor or Master degrees in Chemical Engineering, Biochemical Engineering or related areas with at least 2-4 years’ experience in process optimization of catalysis and product recovery at pilot scale or commercial facilities is highly desired.

• Experience working with ionic liquids.

• Experience with tools in statistical design of experiments.

• Strong data management for sample archiving and maintaining good laboratory experimental records.

The posting shall remain open until the position is filled, however for full consideration, please apply by close of business on October 23, 2018.


• This is a full time, career appointment.

• Full-time, M-F, non-exempt (hourly paid) from overtime pay.

• This position is represented by a union for collective bargaining purposes.

• This position may be subject to a background check. Any convictions will be evaluated to determine if they directly relate to the responsibilities and requirements of the position. Having a conviction history will not automatically disqualify an applicant from being considered for employment.

• Work will be primarily performed at Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) — Bldg. 978, 5885 Hollis St., 4th floor, Emeryville, CA.

How To Apply

Apply directly online at and follow the on-line instructions to complete the application process.

Berkeley Lab (LBNL, addresses the world’s most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab’s scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

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