Job Listings

Instrument Specialist

Virginia Tech
Job Location:
Blacksburg, Virginia
Laboratory and Research

Job Description

The position contributes to the research and instructional missions of the University through the operation of analytical tools in the Nanoscale Characterization and Fabrication Laboratory (NCFL). The position involves collecting and analyzing data to support contractual research, instructional courses, and outreach activities. Responsibilities include: (a) operating a dual-beam focused-ion beam (FIB) workstation, (b) providing basic FIB operation training, (c) analyzing FIB-related data for research projects, (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 NCFL. The outreach activities are in collaboration with the Virginia Tech's NSF-funded national center, National Center for Earth and Environmental Nanotechnology Infrastructure (NanoEarth).

Specific job functions include:

(1) Operating a focused-ion beam workstation using appropriate imaging and/or spectrometry techniques (scanning imaging with electrons and secondary ions, orientation imaging with electron backscatter diffraction, and energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry). This includes supporting/instructing laboratory exercise sessions for undergraduate and graduate courses.
(2) Providing basic operation training to users. Operation training includes basic instrument start-up and shut-down, sample loading, beam tuning, selecting electron and ion-beam parameters, and software functions associated with energy dispersive spectrometry and orientation imaging.
(3) Performing day-to-day maintenance and calibration of FIB and sample preparation equipment and associated rooms.
(4) Being responsible for daily FIB alignment, calibration, troubleshooting. Serving as a liaison with manufacturer's service engineers.
(5) Collaborating with other NCFL staff to implement day-to-day maintenance of FIB and other facility instruments including scanning electron microscopes, transmission electron microscopes, spectrometers, and associated sample preparation tools.
(6) Supporting FIB 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.
(7) Carrying out research supported by funded grants and developmental projects approved by the NCFL Director.
(8) Serving as an emergency backup to other instrument specialists on scanning electron microscopes, transmission electron microscopes, and spectrometers.
(9) 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.
(10) Responding to emergency calls from users.
(11) Conducting NCFL- and NanoEarth-related pilot projects under the supervision of NCFL and NanoEarth Directors.
(12) 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.
(13) Because of the nature of the work, the position requires occasional work after 5pm on weekdays and on weekends. Infrequent travel may also be required.

Required Qualifications

(1) Master's degree in materials science and engineering, chemical engineering, chemistry, geoscience, or a closely related science or engineering field
(2) Working knowledge of analytical instrumentation including scanning electron microscopes, energy dispersive spectrometers, electron backscatter diffraction cameras, and focused-ion beam operating principles.
(3) Experience using a dual-beam focused ion-beam workstation to make lift-out samples for transmission electron microscopy.
(4) Experience using control software for focused ion-beam, scanning electron microscopy, EDS, and OIM equipment.
(5) Experience operating and maintaining these and/or related instruments.
(6) Demonstrated ability to assist users with analytical instrumentation and maintain laboratory cleanliness.
(7) Ability to establish and enforce prescribed instrument procedures.
(8) Effective communication and record-keeping skills.
(9) Ability to work effectively with faculty, staff, and students from precollege to graduate school with a variety of technical and cultural backgrounds.

A conviction check is required. 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.

Preferred Qualifications

(1) Ph.D. degree in materials science and engineering, chemical engineering, chemistry, geoscience, or a closely related science or engineering field.
(2) Laboratory teaching experience
(3) Experience operating an FEI Helios Nanolab 600 workstation, performing energy-dispersive spectrometry and orientation imaging

Appointment Type


Salary Information

Commensurate with experience

Review Date

May 24, 2022

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 military 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 (insert name) at (insert email address) during regular business hours at least 10 business days prior to the event.

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