Manager, Material Synthesis and Characterization - Materials Discovery Research Institute

Location US-IL-Northbrook
Job ID
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General – Green Earth – Safer World

At UL, we know why we come to work.

The Materials Discovery Research Institute (MDRI), of Underwriters Laboratories Research Institutes, is recruiting a Material Synthesis and Characterization Manager. The Manager for Materials Synthesis and Characterization will work across a range of research projects and will develop a team of skilled and motivated engineers and scientists to enable execution of material synthesis and characterization within the institute.  In collaboration with other MDRI leaders, the Manager for Materials Synthesis and Characterization will be responsible for developing research programs and communication of research findings and their significance through publications, presentations, and various organizational and educational tools that advance the mission of the institute.


MDRI advances UL Research Institutes’ public safety mission by working to develop and deploy new materials with the potential to address current global safety challenges. Pursuing materials that will help produce transformational safety breakthroughs, MDRI harnesses the power of advanced computing and experimental methods to create innovative materials for renewable energy, environmental sustainability, and technologies that affect human health.


At Underwriters Laboratories, we wake up every day with a common purpose: to make the world a safer, more secure and sustainable place. Science is in our DNA; we are endlessly curious and passionate about seeking and speaking the truth. We take delight in knowing that our work makes a meaningful contribution to society, and we are proud that our culture is centered on integrity, collaboration, inclusion and excellence. Underwriters Laboratories stands at the forefront of technological advancement, and we are continually challenged to find new ways to foster innovation and positive change. Satisfying? Yes. Exciting? Absolutely!


UL has COVID-19 protocols and policies in place to ensure the safety of our employees, customers and clients. Effective November 1, 2021, the company mandates that employees are vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment (except where prohibited by law), subject to reasonable accommodation as required by law. 

What you’ll learn & achieve:

Essential Functions, Roles, and Responsibilities

  • Develop materials synthesis capabilities to support the discovery of novel materials and enhance global sustainability efforts in areas such as carbon capture and energy storage.
  • Establish state-of-the-art synthesis and characterization capabilities within the MDRI and work with other institute managers and directors to enable impactful research contributions towards global challenges focused on sustainability and safety.
  • Establish partnerships with academia, government, and other institutes to establish research agenda, conduct research and communicate for broad amplification of research findings and applications for positive environmental impacts.
  • Manage ongoing daily research, growth of research, and laboratory capabilities needed to support research.
  • Contribute towards budgets as required for research initiatives, laboratory needs, and communication/education processes.
  • Identify research staff needs and recruit scientists.
  • Promote MDRIs research and the broader ULRI organization through participation on expert panels, speaking engagements, stakeholder events, and external and internal opportunities.

What makes you a great fit:

Professional Competencies

  • Expert knowledge of materials chemistry, including materials synthesis and characterization and their evaluation.
  • Experience with high-throughput combinatorial chemistry methodologies, both synthesis and characterization
  • Demonstrated proficiency delivering technical presentations and achievement in peer reviewed scientific journal publications. 
  • Problem solving skills with the ability to identify root causes, develop practical solutions, and work in collaboration with colleagues across the organization to address strategic, operational, and any other roadblocks to success.
  • Strong management, initiative, and influence skills to create alignment with multiple stakeholders and deliver results in a matrix organization.
  • Positive and collaborative attitude and interpersonal skills to work effectively with leaders and colleagues across the organization.
  • Engaging and approachable management style to lead and develop a high performing team, setting high standards and accountability for process and results.
  • High degree of curiosity to learn about the mission and impact of the organization and its areas of specialization.
  • Excellent written and oral communication and presentation skills.
  • Ability to work in an innovative environment. 
  • Must be a self-starter and possess excellent leadership qualities.

Experience and Education Requirements

  • PhD in chemistry, materials chemistry, chemical engineering, or related field of study, plus 8 years directly related experience.
  • Minimum 6 years post PhD research experience.
  • Experience in machine learning, preferred.

What you’ll experience working at UL:

  • Mission: For UL, corporate and social responsibility isn’t new. Making the world a safer, more secure and sustainable place has been our business model for the last 128 years and is deeply ingrained in everything we do.
  • People: Ask any UL employee what they love most about working here, and you’ll almost always hear, “the people.” Going beyond what is possible is the standard at UL. We’re able to deliver the best because we employ the best.
  • Interesting work: Every day is different for us here as we eagerly anticipate the next innovation that our customers’ create. We’re inspired to take on the challenge that will transform how people live, work and play.
  • Grow & achieve: We learn, work and grow together with targeted development, reward and recognition programs as well as our very own UL University that offers extensive training programs for employees at all stages, including a technical training track for applicable roles.
  • Total Rewards: All employees at UL are eligible for bonus compensation. We offer a generous 401k matching structure of up to 5% of eligible pay. Additionally, we invest an additional 4% into your retirement saving fund after your first year of continuous employment. We provide Healthcare Reimbursement Accounts and Health Savings Accounts that UL contributes to twice per year! Depending on your role, you can work with your manager on flexible working arrangements. We also provide employees with paid time off including vacation, holiday, sick and volunteer time off.

Learn More:

UL Research Institutes is an affiliated nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing safety science research through the discovery and application of scientific knowledge. We conduct rigorous independent research and analyze safety data, convene experts worldwide to address risks, share knowledge through safety education and public outreach initiatives, and develop standards to guide safe commercialization of evolving technologies. We foster communities of safety, from grassroots initiatives for neighborhoods to summits of world leaders. Our organization employs collaborative and scientific approaches with partners and stakeholders to drive innovation and progress toward improving safety, security, and sustainability, ultimately enhancing societal well-being.


Our wholly owned subsidiary, UL Inc., advances our shared public safety mission. We fund our work through grants, the licensing of standards documents and the business activities of UL Inc., which conducts testing, verification and certification, and provides training and advisory services, along with data-driven reporting and decision-making tools for customers around the world.


To learn more, visit our websites


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