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Executive search firm to help in hunt for new ORNL director

Thomas Zacharia retired at the end of 2022. Jeff Smith will be interim director.

An executive search firm will help in the hunt to find the next person to lead the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the lab operator announced Wednesday.

Russell Reynolds Associates has been tapped by UT-Battelle to help find someone to replace Thomas Zacharia, who retired as director at the end of 2022.

Jeff Smith is working as interim ORNL director. Smith was a longtime principal at ORNL until his retirement in April 2021.

ORNL has a budget of about $2.4 billion and about 5,500 staff members.

ORNL hosts scientific research across a range of fields, from supercomputing to isotope production. UT-Battelle runs it for the U.S. Department of Energy.

The director's job has a national, even international profile.

"The UT-Battelle Board of Governors seeks a widely recognized science and technology leader, with demonstrated abilities to drive scientific, engineering, and technical excellence and mission impact to serve as the Director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The lab director must be capable of managing a large, complex research and development institution and possess an understanding of the importance of integrating fundamental research and applied research and development to deliver impactful outcomes.

"The lab director must be a strategic and open communicator, capable of engaging and inspiring some of our nation’s best minds through a shared vision and strategy with inclusion and diversity as a guiding principle, and adept at conveying complex problems and opportunities to multiple audiences."

Anyone interested in applying for the position can get more information here.

Zacharia in particular raised the lab's profile in the competitive field of supercomputing. Currently, ORNL is home to the Frontier supercomputer.

The lab's origins date to World War II.

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