Vanderbilt University Research Scientist/Engineer in Nashville, Tennessee

Research Scientist/Engineer (Job Number: 1800776)


About the Position

Perform as a research scientist and solid phase characterization analytical facilities manager to serve in a laboratory focused on research related to the performance and durability of materials exposed to a wide range of environmental conditions.

The selected individual will be responsible for carrying out and coordinating administration, maintenance, training, and research associated with advanced solid phase and structural characterization of materials, as well as other assigned tasks.

About the Department

Vanderbilt’s Civil and Environmental Engineering department prepares students for entry-level positions in many specialty areas of civil engineering, as well as many other types of careers, such as business, construction, and law. At the graduate level, the department educates leaders in infrastructure and environmental engineering research and practice, with emphasis on the use of reliability and risk management. Development and application of advanced information systems as applied to civil and environmental engineering needs is an important part of the program.

Key Functions and Expected Performance

K1. Training and administration of instrument use

K2. Carrying out requested materials characterization using designated instruments

K3. Routine maintenance and coordination of external maintenance of instruments

K4. Methods development and assistance in new equipment selection

K5. Liaison with other laboratories

K6. Assistance in proposal development and publication

Outline of actual duties performed under each key function

Task list for K1. Training and administration of instrument use

  • Oversees the equipment management system, including training, maintenance and financial records;

  • Monitors the equipment management activities, including review of equipment usage and maintenance records; develops, documents, and updates characterization methods and standard operating procedures; documents maintenance procedures, and ensures that all procedures are followed;

  • Provides training on instruments; and,

  • Ensures that all persons who will be using the instruments have been appropriately trained and understand how to properly operate the instrument.

Task list for K2. Carrying out requested materials characterization using designated instruments

  • Work with facilities users and others requesting facilities services to identify and specify solid phase characterization needs and methods;

  • Develop time, materials and cost estimates associated with carrying out specified solid phase characterizations associated with equipment and methods;

  • Carry out and develop testing results reporting for requested solid phase characterization.

Task list for K3. Routine maintenance and coordination of external maintenance of instruments

  • Develops and implements written plans for calibration, performance verification, and proper operation of the equipment;

  • Establishes scheduled maintenance programs that includes daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance tasks;

  • Performs all necessary, day-to-day, routine maintenance procedures of instruments;

  • Develops/maintains records of instrument maintenance and quality control being performed;

  • Helps to maintain a high level of laboratory performance;

  • Performs basic material management function to include ordering of supplies; and,

  • Schedules and coordinates external maintenance of instruments.

Task list for K4. Method development and assistance in new equipment selection

  • Provides assistance and support in new equipment selection;

  • Evaluates installation requirements for new equipment;

  • Evaluate the performance of new equipment to ensure it is working correctly;

  • Validate new equipment and associated techniques; and,

  • Performs hands-on laboratory work to develop analytical methods for characterizing the performance and durability of materials exposed to a wide range of environmental conditions.

Task list for K5. Liaison with other laboratories

  • Acts as liaison between laboratories at Vanderbilt and other laboratories outside of Vanderbilt;

  • Prepares samples as necessary for sending to other laboratories, including appropriate documentation for proper handling; and,

  • Coordinate and facilitate requests for use of the solid phase characterization laboratory and its services;

  • When necessary, prepares written reports and/or technical summaries and enters results into excel spreadsheets.

Task list for K5. Assistance in proposal development and publication

  • Helps develop proposal ideas, assemble information, and gather preliminary results;

  • Maintains records of laboratory test performed;

  • Reviews data for accuracy, completeness, and suitability;

  • Performs analysis and material characterization as necessary for publication; and,

  • Prepares data presentation (e.g., graphs, images, figures, etc.) suitable for presentations and publication.

Specific instrumentation include

  1. Environmental scanning electron microscope with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy and electron backscatter diffraction

  2. Nano-indenter

  3. Micro‐mechanical testing platform within an environmental scanning microscope

  4. Thermogravimetry and differential scanning calorimeter

  5. Optical microscopes, and

  6. Laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer

Specific responsibilities are:

  1. Training and administration of instrument use

  2. Carry out routine maintenance and coordinate external maintenance of instruments

  3. Methods development and carrying out specific materials characterization research

  4. Liaison with other laboratories providing related characterization techniques, and

  5. Participate in proposal development and publication of results related to advanced solid phase characterization

Education and Certifications:

  • Candidates must have a PhD in science or engineering

Experience and Skills:

  • A minimum of two years of experience with similar characterization instruments and techniques and relevant journal publications

  • Outstanding interpersonal skills working with diverse individuals

  • Strong written and oral communication skills are also required


In addition to offering a lively community that encourages learning and celebrates diversity, VU offers a competitive, flexible benefits package including health, dental, vision, life, accidental death & dismemberment, disability insurance, paid time off, and a 403(b) retirement plan with employer match. Vanderbilt offers tuition assistance to employees, spouses and dependent children. Also, after five years of service, Vanderbilt will pay up to 55% of the tuition for up to three dependent children to earn a bachelor's degree. Learn more about Vanderbilt's benefits at VU Benefits Overview at

This position requires a Doctorate degree and 2 Years of experience or the equivalent.

Licensure, Certification, and/or Registration (LCR):

Primary Location: United States-Tennessee-Nashville

Organization: 15230 - Civil Engineering

Job: Facilities Professionals