Oak Ridge Lab Names Jeff Smith Interim Director, Hires Search Firm

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Jeff Smith

While Oak Ridge National Laboratory continues its search for a successor to outgoing lab Director Thomas Zacharia, the lab has named as its interim director Jeff Smith, who served for 21 years as ORNL’s Deputy for Operations before retiring last April. Zacharia announced his retirement in July after more than five years as director.

UT-Battelle, which operates ORNL for the U.S. Dept. of Energy, has appointed a committee to review candidates and hired executive search firm Russell Reynolds.

As ORNL’s deputy for operations, Smith led a $400 million modernization effort that involved more new construction at the Laboratory at any time since the Manhattan Project, according to UT-Battelle. Smith also has served on the board of directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority since January 2018, after being nominated by President Trump and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Before coming to ORNL, he was deputy for operations at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Mark Peters, Battelle’s executive vice president for national laboratory management & operations and a UT-Battelle board member, is chair of the search committee. The others are, according to the ORNL website:

  • Juan Alvarez, Idaho National Laboratory deputy laboratory director for management and operations and UT-Battelle board member
  • Chris Beatty, ORNL chief operating officer, Fusion and Fission Energy and Science Directorate
  • Miaofang Chi, researcher in ORNL’s Center for Nanophase Materials Science
  • Alan Icenhour, ORNL deputy for operations
  • Cynthia Jenks, ORNL associate laboratory director, Physical Sciences Directorate
  • Kim Jeskie, ORNL director for Integrated Operations Support, Facilities and Operations Directorate
  • Paul Kearns, Argonne National Laboratory’s lab director
  • Martin Keller, National Renewable Energy Laboratory director
  • Padma Raghavan, Vanderbilt University vice provost for research and professor of computer science and computer engineering
  • Gina Tourassi, ORNL National Center for Computational Sciences director
  • Ann Weaver, ORNL Neutron Sciences Directorate chief operating officer
  • Stan Wullschleger, ORNL associate lab director, Biological and Environmental Systems Sciences Directorate
  • Eva Zarkadoula, ORNL research and development staff, Microstructural Evolution Modeling, Physical Sciences Directorate, and Women’s Alliance Council president