Distinguished Staff Fellowship Program



Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is the largest US Department of Energy (DOE)_science and energy laboratory, conducting basic and applied research to deliver transformative solutions to compelling problems in energy and security.

ORNL invites you to apply to its Distinguished Staff Fellowships (DSF) Program. The fellowships are awarded to outstanding early-career scientists and engineers with demonstrated success within their academic, professional, and technical areas, who have high potential to be future science leaders. These highly competitive fellowships are available across a variety of research disciplines, including biology and the environment, clean energy, fusion and fission, isotope science, materials science, national security, neutron science, and supercomputing.

Applicants selected to become DSFs will be named to one of three fellowships based on their scientific background. The fellowships honor three prominent scientists who made a Big Science impact at ORNL.

  • Dr. Liane B. Russell was a groundbreaking geneticist at ORNL (1947–2002), and in 1973 she was the first woman to receive the internationally awarded Roentgen Medal. She achieved international recognition for her contributions to our understanding of basic mammalian genetics. Russell Fellows are typically in the biological sciences, biomolecular chemistry, computational biology, and environmental and ecosystem sciences.
  • Dr. Alvin M. Weinberg, ORNL’s longest serving director (1955–1973), was a passionate advocate for nuclear energy with a strong interest in science policy. Weinberg Fellows generally align with the applied, experimental, and computational sciences and demonstrate competency in chemistry and chemical engineering, radiochemistry, materials science and engineering, nuclear science and engineering, and manufacturing science and engineering.
  • Dr. Eugene P. Wigner was a 1963 Nobel Laureate in physics and ORNL’s first director of research and development (1946–1947). Wigner Fellows are typically in the fundamental sciences and demonstrate competency in advanced materials, chemistry, computational science, neutron scattering, nuclear physics, and plasma and fusion energy sciences.


Targeted Research Directions

Candidates should demonstrate their ability to contribute to one (or more) of the following cross-disciplinary research initiatives:

Major Duties/Responsibilities: 

DSFs are expected to conduct scientific research of the highest quality and impact during their 3-year tenure appointment, become leaders in their fields, and be effective representatives of the Laboratory in their interactions with colleagues and with the DOE and other sponsors of R&D at ORNL. A key aspect of this fellowship program is a mentorship plan that is designed to facilitate the successful integration of each DSF into ORNL’s scientific community and the alignment of each fellow’s research activities with DOE missions. DSFs are expected to establish the foundation for a long-term career at ORNL.

Basic Qualifications:

  • Applicants should have received their PhD in a science or engineering field completed within the last 5 years.
  • Current ORNL postdoctoral researchers and ORNL staff members are not eligible to apply.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Motivated self-starter with the ability to work independently and to participate creatively in collaborative teams across the laboratory 
  • Ability to function well in a fast-paced research environment, set priorities to accomplish multiple tasks within deadlines, and adapt to changing research priorities


Application Process

Select “Apply Now” via our Careers website: jobs.ornl.gov


Within 2 weeks following completion of your application, please e-mail the following documents to ornlfellows@ornl.gov:

  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A concise but thorough research statement (up to 2 pages, not including references) that describes a vision for tackling a grand research challenge, its significance and relationship to ORNL research programs, and its alignment to one (or more) of ORNL’s listed research areas
  • Unofficial Ph.D. transcript
  • Cover letter


Additional information regarding ORNL’s DSF Program may be found by visiting the following link: https://www.ornl.gov/careers/distinguished-fellowships.


Applicants cannot have received their PhD more than 5 years prior to the date of application and must complete all degree requirements before starting their appointment. 


Distinguished Staff Fellows join ORNL as independent, early-career research staff. Fellowship funds span the first 3 years of their ORNL employment to establish the foundation for a long-term career at ORNL.


Moving can be overwhelming and expensive. UT-Battelle offers a generous relocation package to ease the transition process. Domestic and international relocation assistance is available for certain positions. If invited to interview, be sure to ask your Recruiter (Talent Acquisition Partner) for details. 
For more information about our benefits, working here, and living here, visit the “About” tab at jobs.ornl.gov. 


This position will remain open for a minimum of 5 days after which it will close when a qualified candidate is identified and/or hired.

We accept Word (.doc, .docx), Adobe (unsecured .pdf), Rich Text Format (.rtf), and HTML (.htm, .html) up to 5MB in size. Resumes from third party vendors will not be accepted; these resumes will be deleted and the candidates submitted will not be considered for employment.

If you have trouble applying for a position, please email ORNLRecruiting@ornl.gov.

ORNL is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants, including individuals with disabilities and protected veterans, are encouraged to apply.  UT-Battelle is an E-Verify employer.

Contact Information

Oak Ridge National Laboratory
First Name
Last Name
Contact Email
Contact URL

Background Information

Years of Experience
  • Government
  • Government
Work Authorization
Security Clearance

Target Job Information

Job Type
  • Full Time