Shock Physics and Materials at Extreme Conditions Postdoctoral Research Associate

What You Will Do

The Shock and Diagnostics Team (SDT) within the Shock & Detonation Physics Group (M-9) at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) has openings for multiple Postdoctoral Research Associates. Our work utilizes dynamic drivers (single- and two-stage gas guns, detonators, Dynamic Compression Sector at the Advance Photon Source, LCLS, Z-machine, laser, diamond anvil cell, etc.) to study fundamental physics of relevance to the behavior of materials at extreme pressures and temperatures. Our research informs multiscale models for equations of state used in the DOE's science-based stockpile stewardship assessment.

We seek outstanding internally motivated candidates interested in reactive and inert materials, pressure-induced phase transformations, material failure under dynamic conditions (spall and cavitation), X-ray diagnostics (X-ray diffraction and imaging), and/or temperature diagnostics (pyrometry or XAFS). Prior experience in high pressure research is desired, but less important than a solid background in experimentation, a strong intellectual curiosity, and meticulous laboratory skills. The team is willing to train driven individuals in shock physics knowledge and experimentation. Ongoing projects within our team include:
  • Equations of state of various high explosives
  • Equations of state of inert materials, including polymers, foams, and ceramics
  • Temperature measurements under dynamic loading, including simultaneous radiance and reflectance
  • X-Ray radiographic imaging of shock mitigation by traditionally synthesized and advanced manufactured foams
  • Proton radiographic imaging of dynamically loaded polymers and high explosives
  • Dynamic X-ray diffraction and scattering of polymers and high explosives to determine compression, phase change, or morphology changes during dynamic drive or detonation

The postdoctoral program at LANL enables successful candidates to tailor the direction of their research projects to best align with their background and interests, as well as the needs of our programmatic sponsors. Collaborations with other teams at LANL (theory, static high pressure, etc.) are highly encouraged and possible.

What You Need

Minimum Job Requirements:

Safety Practice

Demonstrated ability to work safely and productively in a fast-paced team setting with minimal supervision.


Excellent interpersonal skills, verbal and written communication skills, and experience interacting with personnel at all levels. Ability to explain and present technical information, both verbally and in written form, to an audience with varied technical backgrounds.


Ability to obtain and maintain a US Department of Energy (DOE) Q Clearance, which typically requires US citizenship.

Education/Experience: A Ph.D. in Physics, Chemistry, Materials Science, Mechanical Engineering, Geology, or a closely-related field earned within 5 years of the anticipated start date.

Desired Qualifications:

Technical Knowledge

Experience with dynamic experiments or high-strain-rate mechanics, including experiments at synchrotron or other user facilities.

Experience with pyrometry, X-ray, or laser-based diagnostics.

Experience setting up oscilloscopes and instrumentation to acquire short duration, single occurrence events.

Systems & Tools

Experience with computer programming languages for instrument control, data acquisition, and data analysis (e.g. LabVIEW, MATLAB, Python).


Active DOE Q clearance (or equivalent).

Work Location: This position will be physically located in Los Alamos, NM. Some domestic travel will be expected to attend meetings/conferences and perform experiments at user facilities (~1 week every 2-3 months).

Salary: Competitive salaries are based on the date the PhD degree requirements were completed or the degree was awarded. Starting salary for a new graduate is currently $94,500. For more information go to Postdoc Program website at .

Note to Applicants:

Applicants should submit a CV and a detailed cover letter specifically addressing each of the required qualifications and desired skills below through the LANL HR system and email a copy to Lee Gibson, Shock and Diagnostics Team Lead ( Candidates selected for an interview will be required to provide three confidential letters of recommendation. Review of applications will begin immediately.

The initial appointment will be for a period of two years and will be renewable for a third year contingent upon progress and funding availability. The successful applicant(s) will be also considered for prestigious Director's Funded and named Fellowships at LANL (more information about these can be found at: Postdoc Appointment Types).
Where You Will Work

Located in beautiful northern New Mexico, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security. Our generous benefits package includes:

§ PPO or High Deductible medical insurance with the same large nationwide network

§ Dental and vision insurance

§ Free basic life and disability insurance

§ Paid childbirth and parental leave

§ Award-winning 401(k) (6% matching plus 3.5% annually)

§ Learning opportunities and tuition assistance

§ Flexible schedules and time off (PTO and holidays)

§ Onsite gyms and wellness programs

§ Extensive relocation packages (outside a 50 mile radius)
Additional Details

Directive 206.2 - Employment with Triad requires a favorable decision by NNSA indicating employee is suitable under NNSA Supplemental Directive 206.2. Please note that this requirement applies only to citizens of the United States. Foreign nationals are subject to a similar requirement under DOE Order 142.3A.

Q Clearance: Selected applicants will be subject to a background investigation conducted by or on behalf of the Federal Government, and must meet eligibility requirements* for access to classified matter. This position requires a Q clearance. and obtaining such clearance requires US Citizenship except in extremely rare circumstances. Dependent upon the position, additional authorization to access classified information may be required, which may or may not be available to dual citizens. Receipt of a Q clearance and additional access authorization ultimately is a decision of the Federal Government and not of Triad.

*Eligibility requirements: To obtain a clearance, an individual must be at least 18 years of age; U.S. citizenship is required except in very limited circumstances. See DOE Order 472.2 for additional information.

New-Employment Drug Test: The Laboratory requires successful applicants to complete a new-employment drug test and maintains a substance abuse policy that includes random drug testing. Although New Mexico and other states have legalized the use of marijuana, use and possession of marijuana remain illegal under federal law. A positive drug test for marijuana will result in termination of employment, even if the use was pre-offer.

Equal Opportunity: Los Alamos National Laboratory is an equal opportunity employer and supports a diverse and inclusive workforce. All employment practices are based on qualification and merit, without regard to race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status or spousal affiliation, physical or mental disability, medical conditions, pregnancy, status as a protected veteran, genetic information, or citizenship within the limits imposed by federal laws and regulations. The Laboratory is also committed to making our workplace accessible to individuals with disabilities and will provide reasonable accommodations, upon request, for individuals to participate in the application and hiring process. To request such an accommodation, please send an email to or call 1-505-665-4444 option 1.