ORNL's Associate Laboratory Director of Global Security is responsible for managing the organization's five program offices with a portfolio that supports national priorities in global and homeland security for the Department of Energy and other agencies.
Before coming to Oak Ridge last July, Park served as the Director of DOE's Remote Sensing Laboratory at the Nevada Test Site, where he managed the organization's R&D efforts in the areas of physical and environmental science; design and fabrication of electronic, mechanical, and structural systems; remote and robotic sensing; and remote field experiments and operations. While in Nevada, Park worked to apply advanced technologies for sponsors in the national defense, homeland security and intelligence communities.
We asked Park about his organization's role in applying ORNL's expertise to some of the world's most pressing security challenges.
What are the most important capabilities that ORNL can provide for Global Security's mission?
The key discriminator is not so much any given capability that ORNL's Global Security Directorate (GSD) brings to bear on national security issues as it is the breadth of capabilities here at the lab. Our basic modus operandi is to have our Customer Focus Leads mine what we refer to as "lab hard" requirements from our national and homeland security sponsors. These are requirements that could only be addressed by the resources of a national laboratory. We take these technology needs and match them to the appropriate capability here at the lab. Not many folks here at the lab know that GSD and its predecessor organizations are responsible for work in virtually every research division, from Research Reactors to Biosciences. The scope of our activities has resulted in literally thousands of matches across the lab where our scientists and engineers are solving pressing national scientific and engineering challenges.
From the perspective of your program, how would you contrast the missions of ORNL and the three weapons labs?
From where I sit, my responsibility for the execution of ORNL's mission is not weaponscentric, but rather science-to-applicationcentric. Our work is science-based and appropriate for consideration for any national or homeland-security-related challenge—which may include weapons. Said another way, as the nation's largest and most diverse general purpose lab, the range of requirements we are able to address for our sponsors at ORNL is extremely broad and encompasses science from climate change to fuel efficiency. You just don't see that breadth at the weapons labs to the degree you do at ORNL.
How, then, does the breadth of ORNL's R&D portfolio affect your efforts to match the lab's expertise with the needs of government and industry?
We have talked about GSD's role in addressing government requirements. However, an ever-increasing portion of our portfolio is devoted to developing and transferring technology to industry to be used in support of national or homeland security objectives, as well as enhancing America's economic competitiveness in world markets. GSD applies both technology and existing science, in the form of disclosed intellectual property and emerging science, to address a variety of needs from a variety of customers. Our role for the private sector includes developing, integrating and deploying unique solutions in both classified and unclassified technologies.
Simulation science is now integral to many scientific disciplines. How does this capability influence how research is done in your organization?
As one would suspect, our sponsors rely heavily on modeling and simulation to assist them in their decision-making processes. I'll give you an example. The unclassified highperformance computing capability at ORNL's Leadership Computing Facility, coupled with the laboratory's computational science expertise, has positioned GSD well to pursue providing support on a major new design, simulation and modeling initiative for the Navy for two new classes of ships, as well as a new initiative exploring the security implications of energy and climate change for the Department of Defense and the intelligence community.
What do you see as the most pressing global security concern?
Clearly the greatest concern is the potential for proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or weapons of mass effect. Let me give you an example here as well. Larry Satkowiak's Global Security & Nonproliferation program within GSD has gained international recognition as a thought leader and solution provider in science and technology application for nuclear nonproliferation, safeguards, threat reduction, transportation security and related areas. With the current administration's emphasis on both nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear treaties, we see an expanding need for ORNL's capabilities in this area.
How do you see your organization evolving over the next few years?
As the nation—indeed the world—continues down the path of increasing connectivity to the internet, the potential for cyber attacks on online resources demands world-class expertise in defending against these assaults. I see GSD shifting its emphasis in that direction. We have all heard of the recent Stuxnet virus that has the capability of taking over critical operations at nuclear reactor sites. Such threats are the tip of the iceberg. GSD is kicking off an initiative to address cyberrelated issues that are truly "lab hard." We are talking about social engineering and phishing on government sites, Stuxnet-like attacks, cyber-warfare detection and countermeasures, and ensuring the security of the nation's power grid. GSD has traditionally been in this lane, but as the lab's capabilities increase in the cyber arena, so too does GSD's ability to apply these capabilities to national or global problems.