Role description

Would you like to be at the heart of developing fusion, the ultimate energy source?

Thomas Thor are working in partnership with UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) to recruit a Head of Materials Research Facility who will lead a team of technologists whilst developing the strategy around a current, multi-million £ value research centre.

The Company

UKAEA are a government research organization which researches fusion energy and related technologies, with the aim of positioning the UK as a leader in sustainable nuclear energy.

They are working with research partners and industry around the globe to realise the enormous potential of fusion for generating low-carbon electricity. Increasing demand for energy, concerns over climate change and limited supplies of fossil fuels mean we need to find new, cleaner ways to power the planet. Fusion – the process that drives the Sun – could offer a virtually limitless supply of energy if mastered on Earth. Bringing it to the electricity grid is one of the toughest challenges in science, but potentially one of the most rewarding.

Core Values

UKAEA prides itself on being a great place to work and are committed to the continual development of our people. The core values are Passion, Innovation, Leadership and Business Minded.

The Role

The Materials Research Facility (MRF) – which characterises irradiation damage in nuclear materials – is one of three pillars within the UKAEA’s Materials Business Unit; the other two comprising the Neutron Materials Interaction group (NMI) – which models irradiation damage, and the Materials Science and Engineering group (MSE) – which develops improved nuclear materials, based on learnings from the damage characterisation and modelling.

Built over the past 7 years from ~£20m investment, the MRF is unique in the UK – an active sample handling facility which nuclear researchers (academic and industrial) can access without the administrative burdens of a licensed site. It continues to grow, with a £9m doubling of footprint in 2021 and another £10m equipment investment scoped for 2022-2024. The facility serves both the fission, fusion and related nuclear communities and aims to deliver cost-recovery rather than commercial profit, relying on multiple funding streams from BEIS, NNUF, The Henry Royce Institute and delegated budget from the UK’s first fusion powerplant programme (STEP).

The Head of MRF role suits a leadership background supporting complex technical operations, laboratory management and commercialisation.


  • Manage the MRF Operations, with special responsibility for all nuclear aspects (including particular radioactive and tritium related protocols). You will be supported by an experienced ATOH and specialists in radioactive handling processes, waste and transport, health physics, etc.
  • Manage the MRF business, by coordinating multiple streams of funding from BEIS, EPSRC, The Henry Royce Institute, the National Nuclear User Facility platform, and several large ad hoc consortia grants. These need to reflect and be monitored in a working budget.
  • Drive effective utilisation of MRF capability and capacity, utilising annual MRF Board and User Panel meetings to understand broader UKAEA and external stakeholder requirements.
  • Position MRF within the global fusion community, ensuring a unique selling proposition.
  • Align the investment, commissioning and engineering activity with commercial and fusion strategic priorities (e.g. STEP programme delivery).
  • Ensure MRF is fully leveraged by the NMI and MSE teams and widely integrated with Fusion Technology, H3AT, RACE and Tokamak Science materials characterisation specialists.
  • Manage the MRF team via a facilities lead, engineering lead, active testwork team lead, and project lead. Provide coaching and mentorship to ensure strong technical and line supervision through the structure. Performance manage via target setting, team meetings, job performance feedback and development activities.
  • Represent the MRF and the Materials BU at the Operations Committee and PmPC respectively.



  • Proven experience in large team management, budget responsibilities and operations
  • Recognised leader in the Materials Science
  • Well developed leadership and communication skills with proven track record of building relationships, networks, and collaborations with industry/academia.


  • Experience with Nuclear Materials
  • Experience in the handling of radioactive test samples
  • Experience of working with tritium and beryllium

For more information about the role and organisation please click the “Apply for this position” or contact me at

6+ years’ experience in international technical recruitment. Enjoy working on senior level technical roles that prove challenging to fill. Specialized in the nuclear industry – new build projects, having a particular interest in advanced nuclear technology. Focused on building strong relationships with candidates and clients to ensure a positive candidate experience and effective account management.

Daria Farcas