Human Resources

Postdoctoral Scholar

Apply now Job No: 20155
Department: Chemical Engineering
Work Type: Staff Full-time
Location: Main Campus (Houghton, MI)
Full Time / Part Time: Full Time
Categories: Engineering, Research

To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

Michigan Technological University is an Equal Opportunity Educational Institution/Equal Opportunity Employer that provides equal opportunity for all, including protected veterans and individuals with disabilities.  

If you require any auxiliary aids, services, or other accommodations to apply for employment, or for an interview, at Michigan Technological University, please notify the Human Resources office at 906-487-2280 or

Job Description Summary

This postdoctoral research associate will work on a new federally-funded project to develop a continuous process for conversion of mixed plastic waste using fast pyrolysis. The candidate will conduct experiments to evaluate effectiveness of different temperatures and reactor residence times on yields of pyrolysis products. Pyrolysis products will be analyzed using gas chromatography / mass spectroscopy (gc/ms) for their suitability for use as lubricants and also as bioreactor feedstock for biomass production as a food nutrient ingredient (bioconversion expertise is not necessary). Additional experimental research on recovery of biomass product is included using hydrocyclones and drying units. The research project is part of a multidisciplinary team project involving several other postdoctoral associates and PhD students.

Essential Duties & Responsibilities (other duties may be assigned)

The primary duty of the postdoctoral associate candidate will be to develop a design of experiments for pyrolysis of mixed waste plastics comprised of polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP). Furthermore, the postdoctoral researcher will 1. operate and maintain a pilot-scale (1 kg/hr), automated continuous fast pyrolysis process for production and recovery of gaseous and liquid hydrocarbon products, 2. Operate a gas chromatograph / mass spectrometer for sample analysis, 3. Measure and document energy consumption and other process performance metrics, 4. Develop engineering models of the pyrolysis reactions and transport phenomena, and 5. Publish research results in peer-reviewed journals.

Required Education, Certifications, Licensures (minimum requirements)

  • A PhD in chemical engineering or a closely related field.

Required Experience (minimum requirements)

  • Laboratory experimental experiences in conversion of waste plastics or biomass into chemicals or fuels or in polymer processing

Desirable Education and/or Experience

  • Experiences in developing engineering process models involving chemical reactions and transport phenomena.

Required Knowledge, Skills, and/or Abilities (minimum requirements)

  • Advanced chemical process knowledge consistent with a PhD degree in chemical engineering or a closely related field such as mechanical engineering or ag/biosystems engineering.
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate effectively across cultural boundaries and work harmoniously with diverse groups of students, faculty, and staff. 

Desirable Knowledge, Skills, and/or Abilities

  • Experience in statistical data analysis and software such as MATLAB, COMSOL Multiphysics or similar programs.

Language, Mathematics and/or Reasoning Skills


Work Environment and/or Physical Demands


Required Training and Other Conditions of Employment

Every employee at Michigan Technological University will receive the following 3 required trainings; additional training may be required by the department.

Required University Training:

  • Employee Safety Overview

  • Anti-Harassment, Discrimination, Retaliation Training

  • Annual Data Security Training 

Background Check:

Offers of employment are contingent upon and not considered finalized until the required background check has been performed and the results received and assessed.

Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) % (1=100%)


FLSA Status


Appointment Term

12 months



Pay Rate/Salary


Title of Position Supervisor


Posting Type

Internal & External

Dependent on Funding


Special Instructions to Applicants (if applicable)

The appointment term is for 12 months, with option to renew.

For consideration, the applicant should submit: Resume/CV including list of publications, statement of research interests and experiences (1-page, single spaced) and contact details for three referees. Please contact David Shonnard at with any questions. Review of applications will begin Nov. 15. Approximate start date of position is January of 2021.

Additional Information

Michigan Technological University, one of the four major universities in the State of Michigan, is located in Houghton, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula adjacent to Lake Superior. The community offers a small-town environment with outstanding four-season recreational opportunities.

Michigan Tech is building a culturally diverse faculty committed to teaching and working in a multicultural environment and strongly encourages applications from all individuals. Michigan Tech is an ADVANCE Institution, and has twice received National Science Foundation funds in support of efforts to increase diversity, inclusion, and the participation and advancement of women and underrepresented individuals in STEM.

Michigan Tech actively supports dual-career partners to retain a quality workforce.

Michigan Technological University is an Equal Opportunity Educational Institution/Equal Opportunity Employer, which includes providing equal opportunity for protected veterans and individuals with disabilities. Persons requiring reasonable accommodation in the application process or requiring information in an alternative format should contact Human Resources at or 906/487-2280.

Required Education, Certifications, Licensures* (minimum requirements)

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