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March 13, 2023 | Tom Ballard

ORNL names new Chief Operating Officer

Balendra Sutharshan, who joined ORNL a little more than two years ago, succeeds the retiring Alan Icenhour on April 1.

Balendra Sutharshan has been named Chief Operating Officer for Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). The announcement was made on Monday.

When he begins serving as ORNL’s Deputy for Operations and as Executive Vice President – Operations, for UT-Battelle LLC on April 1, Sutharshan will succeed Alan Icenhour, who is retiring this spring after serving in the role since 2021. Ironically, Icenhour succeeded Jeff Smith in that role, and Smith is now Interim Director of ORNL.

Sutharshan joined ORNL in February 2021 as Associate Laboratory Director (ALD) for the Isotope Science and Engineering Directorate (ISED). Under his leadership, ISED has achieved remarkable growth in isotope research and development, as well as production to meet the increased demand for isotopes used in medicine, research and security.

“Balendra brings comprehensive experience to the position, including an extensive knowledge of ORNL’s nuclear capabilities, strong relationships across the national lab and Battelle systems, and a history of driving operational performance improvements and organizational strategy,” Smith said. “I am excited for Balendra to serve in this important role for ORNL.”

During Sutharshan’s tenure as ALD, ISED has deployed new enrichment technology capabilities and stewarded new projects that will help to secure the domestic isotope supply chain, including the Stable Isotope and Production Research Center, the Stable Isotope Production Facility and the Radioisotope Processing Facility. He established the Isotope Processing and Manufacturing Division in 2022 to further improve production performance and introduced predictive maintenance into the lab’s hot cell facilities to reduce downtime.

He has also been active in developing new partnerships to grow and train the pipeline of future talent needed to conduct isotope science and production, and he has placed a significant emphasis on improving ISED’s culture.

As the chief operating officer of UT-Battelle, Sutharshan will lead the formulation and implementation of cross-cutting operation plans and integrated facility strategies to enable ORNL’s missions. He also will play a lead role in the lab’s commitment to community engagement.

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