New director named at Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Thomas Zacharia stands with the Cray XT5 Jaguar, a supercomputer launched in 2007. (ORNL)

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (WATE) – The scientist who built Oak Ridge National Laboratory into a global supercomputing power has been selected as the laboratory’s next director.

Thomas Zacharia was named the director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. His appointment starts July 1. The former director, Thom Mason, notified employees in February he was stepping down to accept a position at Battelle as senior vice president for laboratory operations.

Previous story: ORNL director steps down, accepts position at Battelle

“He has led many of the innovative research and development initiatives that ORNL has successfully pursued over the past decade,” said Joe DiPietro, chair of the UT-Battelle Board of Governors and president of the University of Tennessee. “His background in materials and computing positions him well to strengthen ORNL’s signature research capabilities in computational, neutron, materials, and nuclear science. His vision of ORNL playing a prominent role in advancing U.S. national and energy security reflects his leadership strengths. He has been key to the success of developing joint academic programs with UT. Finally, he embraces diversity and has a passion for developing and strengthening the workforce at the laboratory.”

Thomas Zacharia (ORNL)

Zacharia came to ORNL in 1987. In 2001, he was named associate laboratory director for the new computing and sciences. Over the next eight years, ORNL says he built a scientific enterprise that brought more than 500 new staff to Oak Ridge and opened the nation’s largest unclassified scientific computing center.

“Thomas represents the very best of Oak Ridge National Laboratory: scientific excellence, a willingness to tackle tremendous challenges for the benefit of the nation, and the vision to find innovative solutions and make them reality,” said Jeff Wadsworth, president and CEO of Battelle, and director of ORNL from 2003 to 2007. “His whole career shows that he knows how to apply ORNL’s unique breadth of expertise to our most important priorities in science, energy, national security, and economic competitiveness.”

In 2012, Zacharia took a leave to serve as executive vice president of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, overseeing research in energy and the environment, information and computing technology, life sciences and biomedical research, and social sciences, as well as leading the country’s science and technology park, which is home to more than 40 multi-national companies including GE, Microsoft and Siemens. He returned to ORNL in 2015.

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