Careers at Virginia Tech

Instrument Specialist

Apply now Job no: 515458
Work type: Research Faculty
Senior management: Vice President for Research
Department: ICTAS
Location: Blacksburg Area
Categories: Other, Research / Scientific

Job Description

The position responsibilities include: (a) operating transmission electron microscope (TEM) instruments, (b) providing basic operation training, (c) supporting TEM data analysis, (d) supporting/training users with sample preparation and overseeing associated sample preparation equipment, and (e) participating in outreach and teaching activities for internal and external users of Virginia Tech’s Nanoscale Characterization and Fabrication Laboratory (NCFL). The outreach activities are in collaboration with the VT’s NSF funded national center, National Center for Earth and Environmental Nanotechnology Infrastructure (NanoEarth).

Specific job functions include:

(1) Operating transmission electron microscopes for both internal and external user projects using appropriate imaging and/or spectrometry techniques (bright field / dark field imaging, electron diffraction, energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry, and high-resolution imaging). This includes supporting/instructing laboratory exercise sessions for undergraduate and graduate courses.
(2) Providing basic operation training to users. Operation training includes basic alignment, basic imaging (bright field / dark field imaging and electron diffraction), lattice fringe imaging, and STEM-EDS chemical analysis.
(3) Performing day-to-day maintenance and calibration of TEM sample preparation equipment and rooms.
(4) Being responsible for daily TEMs alignment, calibration, troubleshooting. Collaborating with other NCFL staff to implement day-to-day maintenance of the facility’s instruments and peripheral tools, serving as a liaison with service engineers.
(5) Supporting transmission electron microscope data analysis for users. This includes, but is not limited to, training users on basic data analysis software and providing guidance in the preparation of technical reports.
(6) Operating dual-beam FIB for TEM sample preparation as backup for FIB instrument manager.
(7) Collaborating with other NCFL and NanoEarth staff to run NanoEarth related instrument sessions, outreach and educational activities, including conducting tours of the facility for visitors.
(8) Responding to emergency calls from users.
(9) Conducting NCFL- and NanoEarth-related pilot projects under the supervision of NCFL and NanoEarth Directors.
(10) Providing efficient and professional laboratory assistance in a fast-paced environment. Effectively managing and prioritizing competing demands and keeping shared laboratory facilities operating at a high degree of organization, cleanliness, and safety.
(11) Because of the nature of the work, the position requires occasional work after 5pm on weekdays and on weekends. Occasional travel may also be required.

Required Qualifications

* An advanced degree in materials science and engineering, chemical engineering, geoscience or a closely related science or engineering field (a Master’s degree for appointment at the rank of Research Associate or a Ph.D. degree for appointment at the rank of Senior Research Associate);
* Experience with basic electron microscopy with crystalline and poorly-crystalline samples including basic crystallography for Selected Area and Nano-beam Electron Diffraction techniques including pattern indexing.
* Experience with both conventional (bright field / dark field) and basic lattice fringe imaging on transmission electron microscopes and scanning transmission electron microscopes (STEM), STEM-based energy dispersive spectrometry mapping.
* Experience with general sample preparation techniques (mechanical grinding, ion milling, electro-polishing etc.).
* Experience operating Technai, Titan, JEM 2100, or ARM microscopes.
* Aforementioned experience (items 2, 3, 4, 5) can be obtained during the pursuit of an M.S. degree for the rank of Research Associate, or during the pursuit of a Ph.D. degree or 3 years of employment for the rank of Senior Research Associate.
* Working knowledge of applications software for electron microscopy.
* Ability to establish and enforce prescribed instrument procedures.
* Demonstrated communication and record-keeping skills.
* The ability to work effectively with faculty, staff and students from a variety of technical and cultural backgrounds.
* Occasional work during weekdays after 5pm or on weekends, and occasional travel.
* Because of the potential intersection with projects, equipment, or information that may be subject to United States export control laws, all applicants must meet the definition of a U.S. Person under 22 CFR 120.15.

Depending on the education and experience of the successful candidate, an offer of appointment may be made at either the rank of research associate or senior research associate. Information about research faculty ranks may be found here (

Preferred Qualifications

Laboratory teaching experience

Appointment Type


Salary Information

Commensurate with experience

Review Date

May 17, 2021

Additional Information

The successful Candidate will be required to have a criminal conviction check

About Virginia Tech

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech pushes the boundaries of knowledge by taking a hands-on, transdisciplinary approach to preparing scholars to be leaders and problem-solvers. A comprehensive land-grant institution that enhances the quality of life in Virginia and throughout the world, Virginia Tech is an inclusive community dedicated to knowledge, discovery, and creativity. The university offers more than 280 majors to a diverse enrollment of more than 36,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students in eight undergraduate colleges, a school of medicine, a veterinary medicine college, Graduate School, and Honors College. The university has a significant presence across Virginia, including the Innovation Campus in Northern Virginia; the Health Sciences and Technology Campus in Roanoke; sites in Newport News and Richmond; and numerous Extension offices and research centers. A leading global research institution, Virginia Tech conducts more than $500 million in research annually.

Virginia Tech does not discriminate against employees, students, or applicants on the basis of age, color, disability, sex (including pregnancy), gender, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status, or otherwise discriminate against employees or applicants who inquire about, discuss, or disclose their compensation or the compensation of other employees or applicants, or on any other basis protected by law.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Lisa Stables at during regular business hours at least 10 business days prior to the event.

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