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Dilling named associate laboratory director for neutron sciences at ORNL

Jens Dilling has been named associate laboratory director for the Neutron Sciences Directorate at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, effective April 1.
Jens Dilling

Jens Dilling has been named associate laboratory director for the Neutron Sciences Directorate, or NScD, at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, effective April 1.

“ORNL pioneered neutron scattering in the 1940s, developing a new technique that enables scientists to explore and create new materials, batteries and more,” ORNL Director Stephen Streiffer said. “Today, ORNL remains at the forefront of this science, and Jens will play a critical role in ensuring the nation's leading neutron sources continue to deliver significant scientific impact for the United States and the world.”

Since Aug. 1, 2023, Dilling has served as NScD’s interim associate laboratory director, guiding more than 700 staff responsible for the High Flux Isotope Reactor and Spallation Neutron Source — two of the most powerful scientific research facilities in the world — as well as multiple projects focused on continuous improvement of the lab’s neutron capabilities. 

Neutron scattering is used in industries including automotive, aerospace, steel, defense, industrial materials, energy storage, data storage and biomedicine to spur innovations such as stronger glass for mobile devices, drugs that more effectively treat disease, more reliable aircraft and rocket engines, vehicles with better gas mileage, improved armor for the military, and batteries that are safer, charge faster, and last longer.

Dilling demonstrated strong leadership in his interim role and will continue the NScD team’s efforts to expand the scientific impact of the lab’s neutron sources while also growing the neutron user community across the United States. 

As an experimental nuclear physicist with more than 20 years delivering breakthroughs in fundamental and applied nuclear physics, Dilling came to ORNL in 2021 to serve as director of Institutional Strategic Planning. In 2023, he took a joint faculty appointment as a research professor in the Department of Physics at Duke University, a core university of UT-Battelle, LLC, the partnership that operates ORNL for DOE. 

Prior to ORNL, he worked for two decades at TRIUMF, Canada’s national laboratory for accelerator sciences at the University of British Columbia. He started at TRIUMF in 2001 as a research scientist before moving into various leadership positions, concluding his tenure as the associate laboratory director for Physical Sciences. 

Dilling earned his undergraduate and doctoral degrees in physics from the University of Heidelberg in Germany. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, or APS, and received the APS Francis M. Pipkin Award, the Vogt Medal from the Canadian Association of Physicists, or CAP, and the Rutherford Memorial Medal from the Royal Society of Canada for “breakthrough discoveries in the field of experimental nuclear physics studying the fine details of the interactions of the atomic building blocks, the nucleons.” He is a professional member of APS, the German Physical Society, CAP, the Canadian Society for Mass Spectrometry, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

UT-Battelle manages ORNL for DOE’s Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. DOE’s Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit