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Start of Appointment

Once an Oak Ridge National Laboratory mentor has selected you for a project, you will need to complete several steps before you can begin your appointment.

First, all candidates for appointments must be approved by the mentor and in some cases by the ORNL Division Director. After approval, the mentor sends ORAU authorization to appoint the candidate and specify the funds which will cover the costs of the appointment.

Second, after receiving the appropriate ORNL division approvals and confirming the availability of funds, we will send you an appointment letter. The letter is an agreement between you and ORAU and requires your signature. You must return the signed letter no later than the first day of your appointment. Please note that you must have health insurance in place no later than the first day of your appointment.

Third, if you are not a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident, you must consult with ORAU immigration staff to ensure that you have the necessary authorizations for participation before beginning your appointment.

In summary, ORAU will need the following items from you before activating payments. It is ultimately your responsibility to ensure ORAU has received each of the items listed below:

  • signed appointment letter
  • signed Terms of Appointment (certain programs)
  • all other forms and documents included in the appointment packet
  • completed application
  • current résumé
  • two references from persons familiar with your educational qualifications (including a reference from a current or past faculty member, if possible)
  • verification of current health insurance  (certain programs)

If you are participating in an employee-based program, you will also need to complete or provide:

  • background check
  • physical and drug screen
  • transcripts (in English)
  • a third reference if we are completing H1-B paperwork on your behalf

You may be required to participate in an orientation meeting before reporting to your mentor. Your appointment letter will contain information if this is required.

Finally, your mentor will certify the date upon which you begin your appointment by completing a Certification of Start form. When all of these steps are complete, ORAU will begin payments based on the schedule you received either in your packet or at orientation.

ORNL Faculty Researcher John M

John M.

Physical Chemistry
Research Focus:

“My research explored the effect on titanium dioxide's ability to absorb light in the visible part of the spectrum by adding small amounts of transition metals and non-metals to it. This is crucial because titanium dioxide absorbs light only in the ultraviolet portion of the spectrum, which greatly diminishes the utility of using it for many technical applications.”

Experience Gained:

“Last summer’s VFP experience led to the acquisition of equipment and supplies at [my university] that has enabled additional research to be done there. This summer’s experience will further expand the scope of the research that is done at [my university].”

Thoughts on the Program:

“Last summer’s stint laid the groundwork for this summer’s research, and having a student this year greatly helped expand the scope of the work I could do at ORNL. It gave the student, Justin, a fantastic introduction into the world of advanced scientific research. He has been a great asset.”