Open Call - Scientist/Engineer, Polymer Chemistry

San Leandro, CA (San Francisco Bay Area) 

Fall 2023

Full time, in-person, 40 hours per week

Sway is a California-based biomaterials startup harnessing the power of seaweed to create home-compostable replacements for single-use plastics. We are focused on developing and scaling high-performance, seaweed-based, flexible packaging. Sway's technology drops into traditional plastic infrastructure, while simultaneously replenishing ocean health, promoting regenerative materials, and ultimately creating a more inclusive climate movement.

Sway is seeking highly motivated Scientists and Engineers to join our growing Bay Area team. This role is a full-time, in person position at our facility in San Leandro, CA.

Primary responsibilities of this role are the synthesis and process development of specialty materials for our formulations, which includes executing chemical reactions, performing chemical and material analysis, and application testing. Candidates must maintain a high degree of independence and responsibility, reliability, and accountability in planning and executing laboratory experiments and planning experiments. Maintaining excellent communication across business units at Sway, including the executive team, is key.

As Scientist/Engineer you will directly assist in Sway product research and development, which can also include polymer processing and scale-up design, while gaining exposure to all parts of Sway’s business. We are excited about individuals with a demonstrated passion for sustainability and circular economy principles. Exceptional analytical and communication skills are vital, as is attention to detail within a fast-moving startup environment.


  • Formulation Development:
    • Collaborate in the development of innovative polymer formulations
  • Laboratory Operations and Process Development:
    • Conduct lab-scale chemical reactions and process development studies.
    • Scale processes to pilot units.
    • Perform polymer blending experiments and conduct chemical analysis on reaction and product samples.
  • Analytical Characterization:
    • Utilize techniques such as GPC/SEC, FTIR, DSC, and solvent extraction for analytical characterization.
    • Employ in-house testing methods to assess material properties.
  • Material Testing:
    • Evaluate structure/performance properties of biobased materials in specific material applications.
    • Coordinate and execute performance testing, collect data, and analyze and interpret results.
    • Communicate findings through written reports and presentations.
  • Safety and Compliance:
    • Uphold safety standards in all activities and contribute to safety improvements as operations scale.
  • Cross-Functional Collaboration:
    • Represent the technical aspect in cross-functional teams for laboratory synthesis and processes.
    • Foster effective teamwork and communication within R&D, product development, manufacturing, project management, and external collaborations.
  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs):
    • Develop and enhance SOPs related to new processes to ensure consistency and efficiency.
  • Process Improvement:
    • Assist in optimizing lab-related processes, including inventory management and safety measures.


  • M.S. degree in Polymer Chemistry, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, or related Materials Science/Engineering field with documented course/project work within polymer chemistry or synthetic chemistry.
  • Minimum 1-2 years of hands-on synthetic laboratory experience in chemistry, chemical engineering, polymer chemistry, materials chemistry, or other closely related physical science disciplines.
  • Demonstrated experience working with renewable resources in materials applications.
  • Legal authorization to work in the United States


  • Knowledge and experience of organic chemistry and standard organic chemistry laboratory environment.
  • Demonstrated mechanical skills such as laboratory equipment knowledge and troubleshooting proficiency (laboratory glassware and/or Pilot Plants).
  • Ability to apply technical, laboratory and analytical skills to solving applied research problems.
  • Demonstrated organizational and communication skills, including preparing technical reports and presentations of scientific data.
  • Demonstrated track record of high performance and multi-tasking behaviors.
  • Demonstrated laboratory and research skills including independent contributions to research projects.
  • Proven experience working within a team environment and drawing on knowledge and skills of other research engineers/chemists.
  • Demonstrated safety behaviors.
  • Knowledge and experience of melt processing of renewable/biobased materials.
  • Knowledge and experience of handling polysaccharide input for materials processing.


  • Opportunity to play a key role in a seed stage Bay Area-based startup with massive growth potential
  • Ability to own and support projects that will contribute to a healthier planet
  • An incredible team to support you
  • Competitive salary
  • Medical, Dental, Vision, and 401k
  • Generous PTO and Holiday policy

Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and LBGTQ+ candidates are warmly encouraged to apply. Sway is forging not only the material dimensions of a regenerative future, but the cultural dimensions as well. We recognize and embrace that this mission is not achievable without diversity, and are committed to building a team that represents a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, cultures, skills, and experiences, knowing that the more inclusive we are, the more successful we will be.

After preparing your resume/CV and cover letter, please fill out the form linked below. We will reach out to select candidates for interviews on a rolling basis.