Bennett Aerospace

Research Scientist and Computational Chemist

8 months ago(4/13/2017 4:00 PM)
# of Openings




About Us:


Bennett Aerospace, Inc. is located in the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina.  Established in 2008, we are a woman owned, veteran owned, certified 8(a) small business that provides scientific, engineering, and technical advisory services to our customers. Primarily focused on Federal Government clients in general, and the Department of Defense in particular, Bennett Aerospace provides expert guidance and advice on the full spectrum of R&D and its applications in engineering, science, medicine, and IT, as well as providing strategic programmatic support in order to meet customer goals and objectives.  Bennett Aerospace is a rapidly growing business focused on hiring and retaining the best people.


Bennett AerospaceInc. has an opening for a highly motivated Research Scientist and Computational Chemist for the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), Environmental Laboratory (EL), Environmental Processes Branch (EP-P) ) Environmental Genomics and Systems Biology Team (EGSB) in execution of its mission. The candidate will be a Bennett Aerospace employee performing services for ERDC in Vicksburg, MS.


Job Description:


The successful candidate will shall provide technical and applied research for the Military Program-funded Focus Area Project “Computational Chemistry Approach for Environmental Impact of Insensitive Munitions Compounds in Water, Arid- and Semi-arid Environments”, as well as the Civil Works Program-funded Project “Development of prototype ResistanceAlert, a computational biology-based early warning system of herbicide resistance for invasive aquatic plant management”, both of which shall be performed at the Vicksburg site of USACE-ERDC-EL. The overall objective of this work is to develop in silico methodologies for assessing and predicting adverse biological effects of chemicals of military concerns (CMCs) such as aquatic herbicides and insensitive munitions (IM). In the military project, the employee shall use molecular modeling tools and techniques to qualitatively and quantitatively characterize the interactions between chemicals and toxicity target biomacromolecules. In addition, the contractor shall build mathematic models that enables the prediction of toxicity for uncharacterized military unique compounds (e.g., new or emerging insensitive munitions). In the civil works project, the employee shall build homology models for the ALS-inhibitor-binding sites for three aquatic invasive species and predict any resistance-conferring mutations in the ALS genes.  The data obtained from civil tasks shall be used for the development a novel tool named ResistanceAlert that enables the prediction of unknown resistance conferred by undocumented new mutations in the aquatic weed or algal populations subject to chemical control actions.


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  • Selection of representative aquatic and arid/semiarid terrestrial species and preparation of reference chemical (RC) libraries.
  • Survey the species found in aquatic and arid/semi-arid environments and select representative species that are close to those surrogate species used in standardized toxicity testing because of the availability of toxicity data for the surrogte species. A library of RCs will be also curated for each investigated target according to the following criteria: (1) the availability of toxicity data, (2) the uniqueness of toxicity target (to avoid chemicals interacting with multiple targets within a toxicity pathway in eliciting the same toxicity at the organ/system level), and (3) their reported toxicity spanning a wide potency spectrum. Tentatively identified resources for RC candidates include: ACToR, DrugMatrix, EADB, ECHA, EDKB, IRAC, LiverTox, SuperTarget, SuperToxic, T3DB, TG-GATEs and TOXNET. Chemicals causing a variety of toxic effects (e.g., acetolactate synthase inhibition, GABAA receptor antagonism, steatosis, and endocrine disruption) through interacting with the select toxicity targets in environmental species will be retained. Toxicity data for these chemicals will be retrieved, categorized, normalized and harmonized.
  • Preparation of 3D structures of biomacromolecular targets. NCBI’s MMDB will be searched for the 3D structures of selected targets. In case that the 3D structures are not yet resolved, their protein sequences will be first retrieved from relevant databases such as UniProtKB (, and then BLAST (Basic Local Alignment Search Tool) will be used to search for homologous proteins whose 3D structures are available. The homology-based modeling tool encoded in the Discovery Studio software package or Modeller will be employed to generate the protein 3D structure, whose quality will be assessed using PROCHECK and the QMEAN scoring function. If a homologous protein of known 3D structure cannot be found, the de novo modeling approach QUARK will be employed to ab initio produce a template-free predicted model for the target of interest. 
  • Technical transfer. Provide technical descriptions of methods and basic results for any activities described above. Provide government PIs with methodological outlines and information for in-progress reviews. Participate as first author or co-author on scientific (conference) presentations and manuscripts.
  • Using research data/information obtained from EP-P teams or open sources, build homology models for the ALS-inhibitor-binding sites for three aquatic invasive species (water hyacinth, hydrilla and Ludwigia) and predict any resistance-conferring mutations in ALS genes. 
  • Collate gene sequences of resistant and non-resistant ALS and/or 3D protein structures for ALS in Arabidopsis thaliana (AtALS) and other plant species including the three aquatic invasive plants (sequences will be provided in-house by EGSB team members).
  • Prepare 3D structures of the ALS protein in resistant and non-resistant plants as well as the three aquatic invasive plants, and build homology models of the ALS binding site for four registered aquatic ALS-inhibitors (imazapyr, penoxsulam, imazamox, and bispyribac).
  • Technical transfer. Provide technical descriptions of methods and basic results for any activities described in above.
  • Provide government PIs with methodological outlines and information for in-progress reviews. Participate as first author or co-author on scientific (conference) presentations and manuscripts. 
  • Submit a monthly report shall summarize progress made. A final report and research notes will also be made available.  All results shall be defensible for peer review and shall be incorporated into peer reviewed scientific abstracts and publications.
  • Submit a one to two page status report detailing research results monthly. Reports and manuscripts will be generated and submitted to peer-reviewed journals. All results shall be defensible for peer review and shall be incorporated into peer reviewed scientific abstracts and publications.


Education and Experience:

  • Scientist with a PhD in computational chemistry and at least five years of experience in the following areas of scientific disciplines: Computer-aided drug discovery & design, molecular modeling and pharmacophore modeling, quantitative structure-activity/property relationship, computational ADME and toxicity, structural database of protein and small molecules, protein structure prediction, machine learning and data mining, cheminformatics and bioinformatics, virtual screening and docking, and molecular dynamics simulations.
  • The scientist shall also possess technical skills and expertise in Linux and high performance computing (IBM Blue Gene and GPU/CPU clusters), in academic and commercial software such as Schrödinger suite, Amber, Modeller, PyMol, and the statistical software R, and in programming language (C/C++, Java, and Python), shell programming, and SQL database.

Travel Requirements:

  • Non local CONUS travel to attend meetings within the government and with project stakeholders may be required.  10%

Security Requirements:

  • Must be able to pass a background security screening

Abilities and Skills:

  • Able to work with diverse technical and administrative teams and provide quality input and recommendations aimed at improving overall program success.
  • Must be articulate, adaptable, and able to work with a variety of research professionals in academia, government, and industry.
  • Strong intellectual interest in scientific and engineering disciplines;
  • Exceptionally Strong written and verbal English communication skills;
  • Able to initiate open discussion with internal and external customers to understand and troubleshoot problems; and
  • Excellent computer skills, including MS Word, Excel, and e-mail software. Expert in spreadsheet development, manipulation, and management.


  • Competitive market-based salary, commensurate with experience and education
  • Comprehensive benefits package available


 About the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC):


The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) is one of the premier engineering and scientific research organizations in the world.  As the research organization of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, ERDC conducts R&D in support of the Soldier, military installations, and civil works projects (water resources, environmental missions, etc.) as well as for other federal agencies, state and municipal authorities, and with U.S. industry through innovative work agreements.  ERDC research is developing innovative solutions for a safer, better world.


ERDC labs collaborate to address R&D in four major areas:  Military Engineering; Geospatial Research and Engineering; Environmental Quality/Installations; and Civil Works/Water Resources.  ERDC has seven laboratories in four states:  Construction Engineering Research Laboratory in Champaign, Ill.; Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H.; Topographic Engineering Center in Alexandria, Va.; and the Coastal and Hydraulics, Geotechnical and Structures, Environmental, and Information Technology Laboratories in Vicksburg, Miss.  ERDC has a staff of approximately 2,500 federal employees and contractors, and an annual research program exceeding $1.1 billion.


ERDC R&D focuses on five primary technical areas to support the Army and the Corps:

  • Warfighter Support – geospatial information; system development; operational support; force protection; and force projection and sustainment
  • Installations – transformation; operations; and environmental issues
  • Environment – remediation and restoration; land planning, stewardship and management; threatened and endangered species; and cultural resources
  • Water Resources – infrastructure, water resources, environmental issues, and navigation; and flood control and storm damage reduction
  • Information Technology – informatics; geospatial technologies; computational services; high-performance computing applications


ERDC manages five major Department of Defense Supercomputer Resource Centers and hosts one of the centers at its Vicksburg site.  ERDC supercomputers are some of the most powerful and fastest in the world, with a capability of 1.3 quadrillion calculations per second (this capability will be enhanced to 3.5 quadrillion in June 2015).  Other unique and world-class facilities include the world’s most powerful centrifuge, blast effects facilities, physical models of river and coastal projects, endangered species laboratories, heavy vehicle simulators, hazardous waste research laboratories, frost and ice engineering facilities, and an 1800-foot coastal research pier.


Even with state-of-the art facilities and cutting edge technologies, ERDC’s most impressive asset is its people – the expertise and education of its research team allows ERDC to provide solutions to our nation’s most complex challenges.  The ERDC staff includes more than 1,020 engineers and scientists, many with advanced degrees (32% hold doctorates and 45% hold master’s degrees).  ERDC outreach and partnering efforts result in numerous cooperative R&D agreements engaging leading experts from academia, private industry, and other agencies. 


We are an Equal Opportunity Employer


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