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January 05, 2023 | Shannon Smith

ORNL names new Fellows, Distinguished Inventors, Associate Lab Directors

Here's a wrap of all the changing leadership and high honors recognized within the national lab.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) announced several promotions, appointments, and awards toward the end of 2022.

Three researchers named ORNL Corporate Fellows

Three researchers have been named ORNL Corporate Fellows in recognition of their significant career accomplishments and continued leadership in their scientific fields.

The Corporate Fellow designation recognizes standing in the scientific community as an exceptional and influential researcher and as a role model and mentor among peers and early career researchers.

Those researchers are:

  • Ilias Belharouak, who is a distinguished scientist and leads the Electrification section in ORNL’s Electrification and Energy Infrastructure Division.
  • Grace Burke, who is a distinguished R&D staff member in ORNL’s Materials Science and Technology Division.
  • Phil Snyder, who leads the Burning Plasma Foundations section in ORNL’s Fusion Energy Division.

New Associate Lab Director named for Fusion and Fission Energy and Science

Jeremy Busby has been named Associate Laboratory Director for the Fusion and Fission Energy and Science Directorate at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, effective Jan. 1.

He will oversee the directorate’s unique facilities, capabilities, and talented scientists and engineers who are tackling such challenges as extending operations of the current U.S. nuclear reactor fleet; investigating economical and flexible advanced reactor systems; and making fusion energy a viable part of the nation’s energy portfolio.

Busby joined ORNL in 2004 and has served in several leadership roles at the laboratory, most recently as director of the Nuclear Energy and Fuel Cycle Division. His research has focused on materials performance and development of materials for nuclear reactor applications. While at ORNL, he has participated in materials research efforts for space reactors, fusion machines, advanced fast reactors, and light water reactors. His diverse research aims to enable the development of operating criteria for structural materials in a variety of adverse environments that will allow for the design and operation of safe, reliable, and cost-effective nuclear systems.

New Associate Lab Director named for Biological and Environmental Systems Science

Paul Langan will join ORNL in the spring as Associate Laboratory Director for the Biological and Environmental Systems Science Directorate.

He will lead the directorate’s convergence research in biology, ecology, engineering, data discovery, physical sciences, and computing that advances U.S. competitiveness in the global bioeconomy and Earth system sustainability.

Langan returns to ORNL after nearly two years as director general of the Institute Laue Langevin in Grenoble, France — the premier center for neutron science and technology in Europe. As director general, he has worked to help forge connections among research, higher education, and industry that accelerate technical breakthroughs. He previously held several leadership roles at ORNL. After arriving as a senior scientist in 2011, he directed the Center for Structural Molecular Biology and served as founding director of the Biology and Soft Matter Division within the Neutron Sciences Directorate.

Two ORNL staff members chosen for DOE Oppenheimer Leadership Program

The Oppenheimer Science and Energy Leadership Program, or OSELP, has selected ORNL’s  Jens Dilling and Christian Petrie as fellows for its 2023 cohort.

Dilling is the director of the Office of Institutional Strategic Planning, and Petrie is a group leader in the Nuclear Energy and Fuel Cycle Division.

Dilling and Petrie join the sixth OSELP cohort, which consists of 34 people representing U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories with professional backgrounds spanning technical, operational and strategic domains.

Established in 2017, OSELP is a distinguished fellowship program that includes a series of sessions and site visits for exceptional leaders to explore and gain an in-depth understanding of the national laboratory system and its partners.

Five ORNL employees are alumni of the Oppenheimer program including Brian Egle, Julie Mitchell and Robert Wagner from the 2022 cohort; Tara Pandya from the 2020 cohort; and Eric Pierce from the 2019 cohort. Egle is a section head in the Enrichment Science and Engineering Division; Mitchell is director of the Biosciences Division; Wagner is director of the Buildings and Transportation Science Division; Pandya is a group leader in the Nuclear Energy and Fuel Cycle Division; and Pierce is director of the Environmental Sciences Division.

Seven researchers recognized as Battelle Distinguished Inventors

Seven scientists at ORNL have been named Battelle Distinguished Inventors, in recognition of their obtaining 14 or more patents during their careers at the lab.

An etched portrait of each new honoree will be added to a wall display at ORNL.

The scientists include:

  • David Christen, who retired in 2011 after a 37-year career at ORNL. He conducted experimental research on the properties of superconducting materials. After the discovery of high-temperature superconductivity in 1986, his work contributed to the understanding of the electric current-limiting mechanisms and ways to modify materials for new superconducting wires. His patent portfolio covers the fabrication of these conductors, in the form of coated conducting tapes, and optimization of properties. He also contributed to patents on the development of superhydrophobic coatings, which can make glass completely water-shedding and self-cleaning. Christen has been named in two R&D 100 Awards and a Federal Laboratory Consortium award.
  • Jane Howe, who worked at ORNL from 2003 to 2012. After her time at the lab, she spent six years with Hitachi High Technologies America and is now an associate professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Toronto. Howe and her colleagues developed novel materials for advanced batteries, some of which are licensed to Solid Power, which recently closed its initial public offering at $1 billion. Howe has been named in two R&D 100 Awards.
  • Timothy McIntyre, who retired in 2021 after a 32-year career at ORNL in roles such as research physicist, research group leader, and program manager. His research was mostly focused on sensors, controls, robotics, and automation, including critical work on industrial wireless sensors that prompted an industry and national laboratory collaboration. His diverse patent portfolio includes novel sensors to measure real-time processing parameters to advance energy efficiency in the industrial sector. His most recent research was focused on advanced automation technologies to recover critical materials from batteries and electronics. McIntyre has been named in an R&D 100 Award and a Federal Laboratory Consortium award.
  • Bruce Moyer, an ORNL corporate fellow and world leader in chemical separations. Moyer has been with ORNL for 43 years. His inventions include solvent extraction processes, ion exchange resins, membrane separations, sorbents, crystallization techniques, and a new way to make an aluminum–cerium alloy. Two of his patents form the basis for a nuclear-waste treatment plant at DOE’s Savannah River Site, earning him the U.S. Secretary of Energy’s Achievement Award in 2013. More recently, six of his inventions for lithium recovery were licensed by Lithos, and Marshallton Research Laboratories has licensed an invention for new rare earth extractants. He has been named in two R&D 100 Awards.
  • Jagjit Nanda, director of the joint SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory Stanford Battery Center, who worked at ORNL for 14 years. His research at ORNL was aimed at the design, control, and synthesis of materials and interfaces for high-energy density batteries for sustainable transportation and grid-scale energy storage. His ORNL inventions include high-capacity lithium–manganese-rich and nickel-based cathodes and interfacial coatings for advanced Li-ion batteries; low-cost battery chemistries such as lithium-sodium-sulfur and organic redox flow batteries; and solid electrolytes and cathode architectures for solid-state batteries. Nanda has been named in two R&D 100 Awards and a Federal Laboratory Consortium award.
  • Gui-Jia Su, a distinguished scientist in the Buildings and Transportation Science Division. Su is a leading expert in power electronics whose work is contributing to the nation’s effort to electrify transportation. Four companies have licensed technologies he developed. In his 20-year career at ORNL, he has developed power electronics and electrical propulsion systems for electric vehicle applications. His inventions are focused on making electric vehicle components and systems — such as inverters and on-board chargers — more compact, lighter, and more efficient at a lower cost.
  • Gerald Tuskan, director of the Center for Bioenergy Innovation, or CBI, a DOE Office of Science research center. CBI’s mission is to advance biofuels and bioproducts for a robust domestic bioeconomy. Tuskan and his colleagues have developed a significant portfolio of patents focused on plant genetics, including genes controlling growth, cell wall chemistry, and stress resistance. Three companies have licensed Tuskan’s technologies and his work has been recognized with an R&D 100 Award.