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Distinguished Staff Fellowship Program

Our application window will remain closed until September 1, 2024. Please click the Apply Now button to provide your information so we can contact you about future open calls. Please also review the application requirements on FAQs #5–7. Please send inquiries to

ORNL’s Distinguished Staff Fellowship program aims to cultivate future scientific leaders by providing dedicated mentors, world-leading scientific resources, and enriching research opportunities at a national laboratory. The program includes the Russell, Weinberg, and Wigner Fellowships. Fellowships are awarded to outstanding early-career scientists and engineers, new to ORNL, who demonstrate success within their academic, professional, and technical areas.

Our Fellows represent a broad range of disciplines and are found in research groups spanning the Laboratory’s research missions. A key aspect of the Distinguished Staff Fellowship program is a mentorship plan designed to facilitate the successful integration of each DSF into ORNL’s scientific community and the alignment of each fellow’s research activities with US Department of Energy missions. We strive to provide all our DSFs with an experience that encourages a long-term relationship with the laboratory. Our alums have gone on to make significant impacts at ORNL and in their scientific communities. Please visit the DSF Alumni page to read about their accomplishments.

ORNL offers competitive salaries, benefits, and relocation assistance. More information is available at You are encouraged to review all opportunities (particularly Research Professional or Research Development openings) available at ORNL on

Application windows

There are three application cycles per year (January, May, and September). The link will be available on Please see FAQ #8 for more information.


Applicants must have received their PhD in a STEM field before they begin their fellowship and can be no more than 5 years beyond receiving their highest technical degree when they apply. Current ORNL postdoctoral researchers and ORNL staff members are not eligible to apply. Because Fellows serve as ORNL representatives with the US Department of Energy and other research and development sponsors, demonstrated leadership skills such as creativity, delegation, responsibility and the ability to cultivate diversity of thought are also integral to selection.

If you already have a PhD, you are encouraged to apply when the next application window opens. If you do not have your PhD yet, we recommend you apply the semester before you graduate (e.g., apply during the September 2023 application window if you expect to receive your highest technical degree in May 2024).

Application procedures

Please refer to FAQ #5 for detailed instructions for submitting your application to ORNL’s Distinguished Staff Fellowship Program. 


Several steps in the application review process take place after the application window closing date. It may take several weeks for candidates to be notified of their application status. Please see FAQ #8 for more information.