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SIMS operator

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Richland, Washington
Closing date
Feb 19, 2023

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Geochemistry, Interdisciplinary/Other, Volcanology, Geochemistry, and Petrology
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Job Details

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is seeking a qualified scientist to enhance our growing capability secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS). The primary responsibilities include operating Cameca ims 1280-HR and/or 7f-GEO instruments, primarily for isotopic measurements. Our current research challenges center on developing analytical approaches and instrumental methods to reduce detection limits, improve measurement accuracy and precision, and increase throughput for a wide range of isotopic systems and sample types. A broad understanding of geochemistry, materials science, chemistry and/or physics will be valuable. Both independently and through collaboration with project teams, the position will support a wide range of U.S. Government and private client work. In addition to our national security work, missions relating to environmental monitoring and restoration, as well as industrial technology development, are also of interest.



Responsibilities include assuming primary ownership for SIMS analyses, with a focus on isotopic measurements, as well as data evaluation, method development, reporting, and laboratory upkeep. A thoughtful and rigorous approach to data collection and review is essential. The incumbent will also become familiar with sample preparation and basic instrument maintenance and troubleshooting. Some projects have specialized technical aspects; for these projects the individual will be provided detailed technical guidance and mentoring from senior staff. The individual will support production and research both independently and through collaboration with project teams. The selected individual will experience professional growth through excellent performance and through networking opportunities.


Principal job duties/expectations, and qualitative and quantitative measures of performance include

  • Operation of dynamic SIMS (Cameca ims 1280-HR and/or Cameca ims 7f-GEO) to perform isotopic and abundance measurements
  • Basic instrument and laboratory maintenance
  • Ability to generate new technical approaches to analytical problems
  • Ability to work in individual and team-based environments
  • Willingness to contribute to funding opportunities


Minimum Qualifications: 

  • BS/BA with 5 years of experience or MS/MA with 3 years of experience or PhD with 1 year of experience


Preferred Qualifications: 

  • Knowledge of geochemistry, materials science, or related field
  • Knowledge of or ability to learn to develop new analysis methods and procedures as needed
  • Experience handling low level radiological material handling in a clean environment
  • Understanding of statistical analysis to support robust QA/QC protocols
  • Ability to interact with sponsors


Additional Information:

The position lies within the Analytical Chemistry & Instrumentation Group, which conducts fundamental and applied research resulting in new capabilities in trace element and radionuclide detection, environmental assessment and remediation, treaty verification, and proliferation detection and prevention. The group applies a broad range of instrument and method development knowledge, specialized chemical separation methods, and advanced spectrometric technologies in support of national security sponsors. Staff are typically involved in multiple projects, which enables each person to contribute to basic science studies as well as the applied missions of the Group. Staff use highly developed processes, specialized methods, and state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation to perform work that spans the spectrum of basic science to applied analytical services. Research areas include radiochemistry, nuclear materials chemistry and analysis, instrument development, and nuclear and materials signatures. Much of the analytical services work that is performed requires measuring radionuclides at trace levels.


This position requires the ability to obtain and maintain a federal security clearance.


U.S. Citizenship

Background Investigation: Applicants selected will be subject to a Federal background investigation and must meet eligibility requirements for access to classified matter in accordance with 10 CFR 710, Appendix B.

Drug Testing: All Security Clearance positions are Testing Designated Positions, which means that the candidate selected is subject to pre-employment and random drug testing. In addition, applicants must be able to demonstrate non-use of illegal drugs, including marijuana, for the 12 consecutive months preceding completion of the requisite Questionnaire for National Security Positions (QNSP).

Note: Applicants will be considered ineligible for security clearance processing by the U.S. Department of Energy until non-use of illegal drugs, including marijuana, for 12 months can be demonstrated.


Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, located in Richland, WA is one of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) ten national laboratories, managed by DOE's Office of Science. PNNL also performs research for other DOE offices as well as government agencies, universities, and industry to deliver breakthrough science and technology to meet today's key national needs. PNNL currently has approximately 4,700 staff members and a business volume of $881 million. The William R. Wiley Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, a DOE Office of Science national scientific user facility, is located on PNNL's Richland campus.
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