Brian Egle, section head for Stable Isotope Research & Processing in the Enrichment Science & Engineering Division, is one of three ORNL staff members chosen for DOE's 2022 cohort of the Oppenheimer Science and Energy Leadership Program, a series of sessions and visits that provide the selected individuals with an in-depth understanding of the DOE system of national laboratories.
Egle, Julie Mitchell and Robert Wagner will join a group of 33 Oppenheimer fellows from the DOE labs. Julie and Robert direct the Biosciences Division and Buildings & Transportation Science Division, respectively.
“We’re very much looking forward to having the new fellows explore the exceptional work being done at ORNL, learn about the Lab — its unique history, capabilities and people — and engage with leadership to learn about and explore ORNL’s strategic priorities and challenges,” Lab Director Thomas Zacharia said.
The goals of the Oppenheimer program—named for J. Robert Oppenheimer, the scientific leader of the Manhattan Project to develop the first atomic weapons—are fivefold:
- Through a programmatic experience that encompasses all DOE missions and program offices, provide fellows with a systems-level understanding of the DOE-Lab system and the strengths, challenges and dynamic nature of this system.
- Provide fellows with a rich understanding of the organizational, operational and partnership dimensions of the DOE lab system.
- Provide mentorship to fellows on career development, diversity, equity and inclusion; the challenges of working within the DOE-Lab system; and strategic assessments of the system.
- Develop the fellows’ ability to critically assess the DOE-Lab system through candid dialogues with senior Lab and DOE leadership on strategic and operational discussions and the development of strategic think-pieces.
- Build a network of leaders across the Labs, DOE and stakeholders.
ORNL’s fellows for 2022 are positioned to make the most of the deep dive into the DOE national lab system. “The program is a great chance to learn best practices from other labs, develop insight into pervasive challenges and look for opportunities to collaborate beyond science,” MItchell said.
Egle said he expects the experience to help him in his quest for a true collaborative environment among his diverse team.
"The OSELP seems a monumental step in developing my own leadership agility," Egle said. "The researchers with whom I work have an abundance of good ideas. What is typically missing is an alignment of those ideas with an overall vision for solving mission priorities. With a clear vision established, engagement with collaborators and stake holders is easier. A sense of urgency can be established. Areas of innovation can be prioritized and explored. 'Failures' can be learned from and used to adjust course. The OLESP can help me develop those visions by providing me with a better understanding of the framework of 'big' problems and the network of resources available to address them."
ORNL has two alumni of the Oppenheimer program: Eric Pierce from the 2019 cohort and Tara Pandya from 2020. Eric is director of the Environmental Sciences Division and was a group leader in 2019. Tara leads the Radiation Transport group in the Nuclear Energy & Fuel Cycle Division.
ORNL will host the 2022 Oppenheimer fellows for a virtual visit in early March.