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Distinguished Staff Fellowship Program

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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.

Application windows

There are three application cycles per year (January, May, and September). The link will be available on Please see FAQ #6 for more information and check back for upcoming announcements.

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

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 2022 application window if you expect to receive your highest technical degree in May 2023).


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.

Application procedures

You must first apply for the DSF Program on the ORNL Jobs website. Visit and search for “ORNL DSF Program.” Click on the job link and complete the application as directed.

As part of the application process at, you will create a profile including work and education history and upload your CV and a cover letter. 

Within 2 weeks following completion of your application, please e-mail the following documents to

  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A concise but thorough research statement (up to 2 pages, not including references) that describes a vision for tackling a grand research challenge, its significance and relationship to ORNL research programs, and its alignment to one (or more) of ORNL’s listed research areas
  • Unofficial Ph.D. transcript
  • Cover letter


The DSF Selection Committee reviews application packets once the application window has closed. Candidates who advance to the interview stage will receive formal notification (i.e., email from