Category Archives: Science

ORNL’s Kalinin in elite company


Sergei Kalinin, a researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, has been named one of 31 national finalists for the Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists. He is listed in the physical sciences and engineering category. The awards will be announced later this month. The awards, which are administered by the New York Academy of Sciences, were established in 2007. Kalinin directs ORNL’s Institute for Functional Imaging of Materials, specializing in the development of scanning probe microscopy techniques to measure and control the structure and properties of materials.

Salute to an ORNL star

wilbanks3Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientist Tom Wilbanks, a long-time Corporate Research Fellow who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for work on global climate change, is shown here in 2012 photo in his office. (KNS photo/Munger)

As I prepare for retirement at the end of the month, one of my heroes beat me to it.

Earlier this week, on the 39th anniversary of his arrival, Tom Wilbanks retired from Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Wilbanks is a celebrated scientist, valued spokesman for the research staff at the Oak Ridge lab, and one of the genuinely nice people I’ve encountered in my career. Continue reading

Metis — a little bit of Titan

Buddy Bland, project director Summit Supercomputer Wednesday, April 20, 2016.  (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)Buddy Bland, director of the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, explains Metis to me during a visit to ORNL earlier this spring. Metis is a two-cabinet Cray XK7 system that’s used by lab researchers to develop codes for Titan — a 200-cabinet version that is the nation’s fastest computer. Metis was placed in what’s called CADES (Compute and Data Environment for Science), which provides support capabilities for scientists using the stable of supercomputers for research projects. Something similar to Metis will reportedly be delivered to Oak Ridge in advance of Summit, an IBM supercomputer that’s under development and expected to be the next big thing, with capabilities in the range of 150 to 300 petaflops. (KNS photo/Michael Patrick)

Tarcza named manager of DOE’s Oak Ridge Office

16-096-9508Kenneth R. Tarcza, former chief of staff for the U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Command, has been named manager of the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office. As part of that role, he will oversee the Integrated Support Center, which provides services to multiple national laboratories and Office of Science sites.

His appointment was announced Monday by the DOE’s Office of Science. Don Thress has been acting in the position since Kevin Hall departed last year.

Tarcza retired from the Army in 2015 as a colonel. Among his career roles, he served with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. Continue reading

ORNL to open office in Chattanooga

2015-P03210 mason casual-001Oak Ridge National Laboratory made it official today, with ORNL Director Thom Mason’s announcing that the lab would open an office in Chattanooga at the EPB headquarters.

In a release, Mason said, “This is the best way for us to build on existing ORNL collaborations in Chattanooga and to identify new opportunities. The work involving EPB (Electric Power Board of Chattanooga), the Department of Energy and Oak Ridge National Laboratory illustrates the power of regional cooperation. We want to accelerate opportunities in developing clean energy technology, manufacturing and computing.” Continue reading

SNS has strong run leading up to summer maintenance outage

sns1Aerial view of the Spallation Neutron Source atop Chestnut Ridge at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. (ORNL photo)

The Spallation Neutron Source, which resumed operations on March 30 after replacing a target vessel that failed unexpectedly, has been on a strong run since then with “very good” reliability (available 92 percent of the time for researchers), according to a status report from Operations Manager Kevin Jones.

The spring has been a fairly cautious period, with the SNS operating at a beam power of 850 kilowatts following the restart and bumping up to 1 megawatt in early April. The system is capable of 1.4 megawatts but the lower power helped preserve the pressure vessel until more backups become available — and more are on the way.

That strategy apparently was effective, because the SNS is entering its last week of operation before the long summer outage for maintenance. Continue reading

Ian Greeley gets UT-Battelle Scholarship

utbschol16_200Ian Greeley, a senior at Knoxville Catholic High School, has been named the winner of the 2016 UT-Battelle Scholarship and will attend the University of Tennessee. Greeley is shown in photo with Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director Thom Mason.

The award is presented annually to a graduating senior who plans to study science, math or engineering at UT, which is co-manager of ORNL. The scholarship is renewable for up to four years at a total of $20,000. The recipient is selected competitively among candidates whose parent or parents work at ORNL. Greeley’s mother, Leigh, is an industrial hygienist in ORNL’s Safety Services Division, and his father, Mark, is a researcher in the Environmental Sciences Division. Continue reading

The senator’s view of the Summit

alexandersummitU.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., in a recent news release announcing the Senate’s passage of FY 2017 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, said something he’s fond of saying.

“Once again, the world’s fastest supercomputer will be at Oak Ridge National Laboratory,” Tennessee’s senior senator (and chief architect of the appropriations bill) was quoted as saying.

The Senate bill includes $1.32 billion for advanced computing, and that includes money for “Summit,” a supercomputer currently under development by IBM, NVIDIA and others. Summit will be delivered to ORNL over the next couple of years. Depending on how much funding is available, the contract calls for IBM to provide a supercomputer with a capability somewhere between 150 and 300 petaflops. That means it could be able to do up to 300 million billion calculations per second. Continue reading

A mercury research facility at creekside

A Field Research Station where Oak Ridge scientists can study mercury in East Fork Poplar Creek is still in the works, even though the Department of Energy recently pulled back its proposal to construct the facility at a natural area in Horizon Center.mercurycreek-thumb-310x175-24360.jpg

“We are currently in the process of identifying alternatives that will meet the needs of the Department of Energy and the City of Oak Ridge,” Mike Koentop, the executive officer of DOE’s Office of Environmental Management, said.

The research facility will be relatively small and cost in the range of $1 million, according to estimates. But it’s important that it be located adjacent to the lower stretches of East Fork — the creek that was historically polluted with tons of mercury discharged during Cold War operations at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant. Continue reading

Senate passes Energy & Water Appropriations Bill

The Senate earlier today passed the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill for FY 2017, which would provide a big boost in funding for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and would provide $575 million for continued development of the Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., a primary architect of the bill, said in a statement: Continue reading

Young stars at ORNL get early-career funding

ornlsignTravis Humble, Melanie Mayes, Wellington Muchero and Clayton Webster of Oak Ridge National Laboratory were among 49 young researchers selected for Early Career Research Awards by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

This is the seventh year of the awards given to outstanding scientists early in their careers supported by the Office of Science.

According to information distributed by the lab: Continue reading