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April 30, 2023 | Shannon Smith

ORNL celebrates 80th anniversary with historical installments, giving campaign

Oak Ridge National Laboratory opened in 1943 and has continued to make groundbreaking discoveries ever since.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) scientists are celebrating 80 years of impacting lives through their research and discoveries.

“We were founded in 1943 as part of the effort to make plutonium and support the war effort,” said ORNL Interim Director Jeff Smith.

In honor of the lab’s 80th anniversary, he was joined last week by ORNL Site Office Manager Johnny Moore to officially open the new International Hall display featuring flags from the 74 home countries of lab staff members.

“People that call home to each of these countries are equally home here at this laboratory,” said Smith.

This new addition was one of many celebratory plans in store to commemorate 80 years of discoveries.

Large timelines have been installed, highlighting key events and people throughout the decades. The installations included a quote from Alvin Weinberg, ORNL’s longest-serving laboratory Director, which reminds staff and visitors of a foundational principle for ORNL: “Good people from diverse fields working together can make major scientific discoveries that are denied geniuses working in isolation.”

The celebration event also kicked off the lab’s annual employee giving campaign, ORNL Gives, with local nonprofits in attendance.

“Last year as an organization, we raised about $930,000 to give back to this community,” said Smith. “This year, we’re going to set a more ambitious goal. We’re going to target $1 million.”

Smith believes that goal is achievable, and looks forward to what colleagues can raise. At the lab, employees will continue to celebrate with more events and speakers coming in to talk about ORNL’s history.

As for the next 10 years of scientific work?

“This laboratory has always been a lab that responds to the challenge,” said Smith. “And I think that’s what’s impressive. We don’t know what those new challenges are going to be, but this laboratory will be ready to respond.

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