Employment Opportunities

At WRI, you’ll find an environment where career achievement is paired with the best of Rocky Mountain living. Laramie is a relaxed college town with unmatched access to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the West.

Our current job openings are listed below.


Western Research Institute, Inc. (WRI) seeks an energetic, visionary, motivated executive to fill the position of chief executive officer (CEO). This position will become vacant in the first quarter of 2024, when current CEO Dr. Jean‐Pascal Planche retires, after more than 13 years of distinguished service to WRI, four of them as CEO.

The Institute

WRI is a nonprofit research and development institute headquartered in Laramie, Wyoming. The institute’s business portfolio includes commercial and federal contracts focusing on a variety of chemistry‐related technologies, such as:

  • Asphalt chemistry, modification, and recycling

  • Hydrocarbon products analytic services

  • Chemical upcycling technologies for recycling plastics, wind turbine blades, biomass, and other hydrocarbon wastes

  • Advanced carbon materials, such as carbon fibers from mesophase pitch

  • Coal‐to‐materials technologies

  • Heavy oil and bitumen upgrading and deasphalting

  • Carbon‐chemistry pilot‐plant operations, chemical engineering upscaling and services

WRI currently has two business units: Renewable Upcycling, Materials & Asphalt Technologies (RenuMAT) (formerly Asphalt and Petroleum Technologies) and Sustainable and Emerging Technologies (SET). These business units scientifically and technically collaborate with each other on projects and with many of the world’s most highly respected commercial, state, and federal research and development partners. For six decades, WRI has been home to the Petersen Asphalt Research Conference, one of the world’s most widely recognized scientific forums for asphalt research.

WRI Mission:

Partnering to innovate, develop, and commercialize technologies using advanced sustainable chemistry, analysis, and innovative engineering, for carbon, natural resources, and wastes.

WRI Vision ‐ A World‐Class Leader

Reimagining tomorrow’s energy and materials for a lower carbon intensity and sustainable future, for Wyoming, the United States and the world.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Committed to fostering a workplace culture that values diversity, equity, and inclusion by encouraging the contributions and innovations of all employees through exchange of ideas and synergies while fulfilling our scientific mission.

Business Profile

WRI makes multimillion dollars in yearly revenues. The institute currently employs 30 scientists, engineers, technicians, and administrative staff members. Once heavily reliant on federal contracts, WRI has diversified over the last decade to work with many commercial clients, and most of its business, measured in dollars, now comes from the commercial sector. WRI’s nonfederal clients range from large energy and material‐science corporations to research universities to small and mid‐sized companies. Many are headquartered outside the United States. WRI competes successfully for large, federally funded research projects, both on its own and as the lead with partners such as the University of Wyoming, Oak Ridge National Laboratories, MIT, National Center for Asphalt Technology, and others.


WRI owns and maintains headquarters and bench‐ and pilot‐scale laboratories at its Advanced Technology Center in Laramie, Wyoming. Laramie is a small city of 32,000 people and is home to the main campus of the University of Wyoming, Cirrus Sky Technology Park and numerous technology related firms. It has the spirit of a university town and is located in a scenic high‐altitude valley between the Laramie and Medicine Bow ranges of the Rocky Mountains. Laramie residents enjoy superb access to outdoor recreation, including world‐class hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, cross‐country and alpine skiing, camping, rock climbing, trout fishing, hunting, and many other activities. Laramie residents also enjoy access to thriving cultural and artistic amenities associated with the University of Wyoming and the surrounding communities. Laramie is a one‐hour drive north of Fort Collins, Colorado, and two hour drive north of Denver, Colorado, and has a regional airport with flights to Denver.

The Position and Board of Directors

The CEO reports to the board of directors, a group of devoted men and women selected for their high level scientific, engineering, legal, economic, and governance expertise. The board provides strategic oversight of the main scientific directions of the institute and fiduciary oversight of the institute’s business affairs. Voting members of the board volunteer their time to guide and advise the institute. The CEO is a paid, nonvoting member of the board who provides critical guidance to the board and day‐today leadership to the institute’s management, administrative staff, and scientific experts.

CEO Responsibilities include:

  • Supervision and control of all business affairs of the institute

  • Ensuring ethical and fiscally sound business practices

  • Development of strategic orientations and business opportunities

  • Formulation of the annual budget for approval by the board of directors

  • Managing intellectual property

  • Facilitating synergies within WRI’s talented leadership team

  • Overseeing the human resources management of the institute

  • Effective communications with local, state, and federal officials and industry partners

  • Effective interactions with both the University of Wyoming and its School of Energy Resources

CEO Qualifications

Candidates for the CEO position must possess expertise, personal energy, compelling leadership talent, communication and interpersonal skills, and an aspiration for a positive work culture. Candidates must be driven by a creative, forward‐thinking, entrepreneurial vision required to guide a state‐of‐the‐art research and development institute into the future. Specific qualifications include:

  • At least five years of executive‐level leadership

  • Proven ability to manage scientific and technical projects

  • Proven ability to promote collegial and collaborative interactions among employees

  • Ability to understand, embrace and grow the culture of the institute

  • International business exposure and experience

  • Networking experience

  • Industry knowledge and experience in at least one current field of WRI activities

  • An advanced degree (preferred) or documented expertise at a comparable level

  • Experience or knowledge with managing government contracts

  • Knowledge or experience with intellectual property

  • Proven business and technology development

Hiring Process

The board welcomes applicants from industrial, commercial, government, and academic sectors. The board especially encourages applicants from groups traditionally underrepresented in science, engineering, and management, including women and people of color.

A superb leadership team, scientific excellence, an inclusive culture, and exceptional esprit de corps enabled WRI to thrive in the face of many recent challenges, including the Covid pandemic, supply‐chain disruptions, and the relocation of RenuMAT into newly renovated labs and offices. The board of directors seeks to carry this vision forward.

Highly qualified applicants should send a cover letter, curriculum vitae addressing the qualifications listed above, and a list of at least three professional references with contact information to:

Michelle Holmes, Human Resources Director
Western Research Institute
3474 North 3rd Street
Laramie, WY 82072 U.S.A.

Hard copy and .pdf files are acceptable. During the screening period, applications will be held in confidence, and applicants will receive notice before the board contacts references. Screening of applications will begin September 1, 2023, and continue until the position is filled.


Our team is comprised of creative, highly-skilled innovators who are engaged in research and technology development. The Chemist/Engineer position is centered around mesophase pitch for carbon fibers, and asphalt research including discovery and characterization of new alternative non-petroleum based asphalt binders and has aspects related to recycling, upcycling and circular economy.

We currently have two career opportunities, one with an emphasis on mesophase pitch for carbon fibers and one with an emphasis on asphalt research. Examples of duties include:

  • Loading and running high temperature and pressure batch and flow-through reactors

  • Preparing mesophase pitch samples for softening point and cross-polarized light microscopy

  • Experiments and sample testing using analytical testing using HPLC, TGA, DSC, FTIR and other methods

  • Proper cataloguing, preserving, and shipping of samples

  • Mixing and pouring of hot asphalt, high shear mixing of hot asphalt and other blending

  • Performing distillations, filtrations, solvent extractions, solubility tests, and solvent removal using a rotary evaporator

  • Performing organic synthesis

  • Collaborating with team to assess solutions to experimental designs and testing issues

  • Maintenance and troubleshooting of experimental apparatuses and lab equipment

The ideal candidate will have a Bachelor’s degree in engineering, chemistry, or closely related field (Associate’s degree with relevant lab experience will be considered) and lab research experience, including work with high temperature experiments.

Individuals will thrive in this position if they have a passion for discovery, innovation, and problem solving, are detail-oriented, with strong verbal and written communication skills (including fluency in Word and Excel), and a desire to engage in a team-oriented culture. Team members who excel in this position will have opportunities for growth.

Successful candidates must be able to easily lift 50 pounds, be able to work routinely with a variety of toxic and flammable solvents, and wear PPE (gloves and safety glasses).

Starting Salary: $24 per hour ($49,920 per year)

We offer a comprehensive benefit package, including generous paid time off, flexible schedules, and tuition waivers for classes at UW. Our package includes a retirement plan (with an 8% employer contribution after one year and options to contribute to a supplemental plan), insurance (medical, dental, vision, and life) and an employee assistance program.

Submit resume and cover letter to Michelle Holmes, Human Resources Manager, by email at mholmes1@uwyo.edu. The position is open until filled.

WRI is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

For more information, contact:

Michelle Holmes
Human Resources Manager
Human Resources

Western Research Institute
3474 N. 3rd Street
Laramie, WY 82072

(307) 721-2011
(888) 463-6974 or (888) Info-WRI

You can contact WRI directly by phone (8 a.m. – 5 p.m. MST, Monday-Friday) at the numbers above.
Also, you are welcome to contact the appropriate WRI representative directly.

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