Director, Environment, Safety, Health, and Quality
John Gearhart is the director of Environment, Safety, Health, and Quality (ESH&Q) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In this position, he leads the safety and operational infrastructure that enables the laboratory’s science missions while protecting workers, the public, and the environment. ESH&Q provides broad expertise and programs to support nuclear safety, promote occupational health, control work hazards, meet regulatory requirements, manage waste responsibly, and ensure quality performance.
Gearhart previously served as the chief operating officer for ORNL’s Isotope Science and Engineering Directorate, providing oversight to nuclear and radiological facilities with critical national missions, including the production of medical isotopes and fuel for deep space exploration.
Prior to joining ORNL, he was the assistant chief of Naval Research at the Office of Naval Research, where he led the management and operations functions for the U.S. Navy’s scientific research and development portfolio.
Gearhart is a U.S. Navy nuclear submarine veteran with 30 years of experience in the Department of Defense in operations, management, risk assessment, long-range planning, and strategy implementation. Throughout his naval career, he served in multiple positions, including as a nuclear submarine quality assurance officer, ensuring highly reliable safety systems in equipment. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Oklahoma State University and a master’s in business administration from the University of Phoenix.